Conway looks to sign off his 2014 IndyCar campaign with third win in Sonoma

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Although the Verizon IndyCar Series season is coming to a close in the next two weeks, Mike Conway still has a jam-packed remaining final few months of 2014.

Conway will make his final start of the 2014 IndyCar campaign in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing at Sonoma Raceway, and he seeks his third win of the year.

His first two have come at Long Beach and Toronto, both street courses. A third would equal him with Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay as having had the most wins overall in IndyCar this year.

“Sonoma is a really cool circuit,” said Conway in the team’s advance release.

“But it is a tricky place too. I don’t why but the track surface doesn’t have the grip level that it did previously. The up and down elevation changes and the blind corners like turns 3 and 6 make the circuit very challenging. It’s always a wild ride in qualifying. You are right on the edge to get a good lap.”

Conway expressed that the ECR squad has made strides on its permanent road course setup; Conway hasn’t qualified or finished particularly well on the first three this year. At Sonoma, he has a best finish of third, achieved his rookie year with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

“I think our street circuit setup was good all year but we did struggle at some of the permanent road tracks earlier in the year,” said Conway. “But I feel that we are getting much better and I’m excited about heading back to Sonoma. I’m looking forward to a successful weekend.”

From here, Conway shifts in the FIA Formula E Championship with Dragon Racing; that season kicks off Sept. 13 in China, and then a week later he’ll be back in the U.S., making his Toyota Racing debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Both of those seasons continue into the winter months.

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

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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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.