NASCAR: A lap at Sonoma with A.J. Allmendinger (VIDEO)

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A.J. Allmendinger has not made a Sprint Cup start at Sonoma Raceway since the 2012 season, when he finished ninth for Team Penske.

Perhaps with that in mind, he and his JTG Daugherty Racing team made their way there earlier this month for a two-day test session.

The 1.99-mile circuit is a treacherous one but when asked what he thought was its toughest challenge, the former open-wheel standout didn’t choose a specific section of track.

Instead, he noted the importance of saving the rear tires as the car makes its way out of the corners.

“It is real easy to see a guy make a mistake or just try to be aggressive, and you quickly burn your rear tires off, and then you are done the rest of the stint,” said Allmendinger, who was 18th and 15th respectively in yesterday’s two Sprint Cup practices at Sonoma.

“I think that is what everybody works on here, and that is what they focus on is trying to get the forward drive. If you don’t have that, you aren’t going to win the race, so it is the most critical part of this race track to me.”

In the clip above, you’ll see what Allmendinger must deal with this weekend as he makes his way around the technically demanding Sonoma layout.

Qualifying for tomorrow’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 will take place later this afternoon at 1:40 p.m. ET. For Allmendinger and Jamie McMurray’s thoughts on how the new knock-out qualifying format will look in its road course debut, click here.

IndyCar at IMS Friday: How to watch, start times, live streaming info

IndyCar Indianapolis start times
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With three races remaining in the NTT IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon has a commanding lead and history on his side entering Friday’s opener of the Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The five-time series champion leads defending champ Josef Newgarden by 72 points.

Since 2014, the points leader with three races left has won the championship in five of the past six years, including Dixon in ’18.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has led the championship standings following every round after opening 2020 with three consecutive victories. Dixon also led the points by 78 points with three races remaining when he won the title in 2008.

Dixon, Newgarden, Pato O’Ward, Colton Herta, Will Power, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato are championship eligible.

Anyone outside 108 points of the lead after Indy will be eliminated heading into the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

Here is the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course schedule for Friday (all times are ET), including details and start times:


Indianapolis Motor Speedway TV schedule for Friday

IndyCar Harvest GP Race 1: 3:30 p.m., USA Network, NBC Sports Gold and streaming on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com); Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for IndyCar on NBCSN this weekend with analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.


IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway start times, information

COMMAND TO START ENGINES: 3:53 p.m.

GREEN FLAG: 4 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 85 laps (207.35 miles) around Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s a 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in Indianapolis.

TIRE ALLOTMENT: Nine sets primary, five sets alternate (A 10th set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie.) Teams must use one set of primary and one set of alternate tires in the race.

PUSH TO PASS: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 57 degrees with a 0% chance of rain at the green flag.

QUALIFYING: 6:20 p.m. Thursday (NBC Sports Gold)

ENTRY LIST: Click here for the 25 drivers racing this weekend at Indianapolis