Power leads first practice for IndyCars in Houston

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After a delay of two and a half hours, the IZOD IndyCar Series finally began its weekend at the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston with the first of two 45-minute practice sessions.

Will Power topped the opening practice with a lap of 1 minute, 6.8320 seconds around the 1.7-mile Reliant Park circuit, which is now featuring a temporary chicane at Turn 1. As detailed earlier, grinding will take place tonight at this spot of the course in order to completely alleviate this morning’s track surface issue.

Scott Dixon, who is trying to cut his 49-point gap to championship leader Helio Castroneves this weekend, was second-fastest (1 minute, 7.0793 seconds), followed by the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves in third (1 minute, 7.1036 seconds), Ryan Hunter-Reay in fourth (1 minute, 7.2257 seconds) and Justin Wilson in fifth (1 minute, 7.3606 seconds).

Several incidents took place during the session. About midway through, Josef Newgarden clipped the second tire barrier that makes up the Turn 1 chicane and then slammed into the wall – delivering rear-end damage and more than a few scuffs to his chromed-out No. 67 Strike-backed Honda.

“I just overstepped a little bit in that chicane,” Newgarden said. “I think we’ll be OK. It’s a long weekend, we just got started, and we’ll just take a step back and try not to do that again.”

Then, in the latter moments of the session, Ryan Hunter-Reay briefly went airborne after running over the final curb of the Turn 2-3 chicane before he too found the wall. Justin Wilson also spun during the incident, but came away with his car undamaged.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III