MRTI: Anderson up to Indy Lights with returning Fan Force United

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After sitting out, Fan Force United has announced its upcoming return to the Indy Lights grid next season with 24-year-old Scott Anderson as their driver.

Anderson enters Indy Lights after finishing fifth in this year’s Pro Mazda Championship with Juncos Racing, while FFU re-enters Indy Lights after running for eight races in 2012 with an assortment of drivers.

That year, the team also fielded a Lotus-powered Indy 500 entry for ex-Formula One driver Jean Alesi that was black-flagged in the opening laps due to the motor’s dreadful pace.

“We’ve never stopped working on getting back on track, and we’re excited to be getting out there with Scott,” said FFU team co-owner and former IndyCar Series driver Tyce Carlson. “He has a solid record as he has progressed up the ladder and has proven himself at every level.

“With the team that we have assembled and will be putting around him, we’re pretty confident that we’ll be able to pick right up where we left off at the end of 2012 and be competitive very quickly.”

Anderson has been a quick climber up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder. Following a national championship in the Skip Barber series in 2011, he finished third in the 2012 USF2000 championship with two wins and six podiums before going to Pro Mazda.

After netting one podium and seven Top-5 finishes with Juncos in 2013, he now looks forward to the next level.

“It’s a new series and car for me so the focus early on will definitely be to learn the car and adjust as quickly as I can,” said Anderson, a native of Fort Collins, Colorado. “There’s a lot of experience between everyone on the team and so I look forward to absorbing as much knowledge as possible and getting some good results.”

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.