Sam Bird tops Formula E practice in Malaysia

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After a hiatus of more than two months, the all-electric FIA Formula E championship resumes its season tonight with Round 2 in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird has topped the one-hour, 15-minute practice that will lead into qualifying at 9 p.m. ET. Late in the session, Bird threw down a 1:21.496 around the 12-turn, 1.6-mile Putrajaya street circuit.

The session got a bit messy during the final half-hour. A red flag came out for TrulliGP driver Michela Cerruti losing a wheel, which robbed the drivers of about 15 minutes of track time.

Then towards the very end, Venturi’s Nick Heidfeld – who survived a horrific crash following last-lap contact with e.dams-Renault’s Nicolas Prost in the Beijing season opener – found the Turn 3 barrier.

The Venturi team has since tweeted that Heidfeld is OK, but the session did not restart after his latest incident. Also suffering trouble late was Red Bull Global Rallycross’ own Nelson Piquet Jr., who sustained a broken rear suspension on his China Racing entry.

American-based squad Dragon Racing was represented toward the top of the time sheets, as Jerome d’Ambrosio went P2 with a 1:22.043 run. e.dams-Renault’s Sebastien Buemi was third-fastest with a 1:22.256, followed by Dragon’s other pilot, IndyCar vet Oriol Servia in fourth (1:22.584). Prost (1:22.674) rounded out the Top 5.

The other U.S. team, Andretti Formula E, had Indy Lights pilot Matthew Brabham go to seventh (1:22.961) and Franck Montagny to eighth (1:23.287). Brabham is subbing in for Charles Pic, who is on reserve duty for Lotus at the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend.

Lucas di Grassi, who became Formula E’s inaugural race winner in Beijing following the Heidfeld-Prost crack-up, was only 13th-fastest in his Audi Sport Abt entry with a 1:24.825.

Tonight’s race is scheduled for a 1 a.m. ET start in the United States.

Lucas Oil Late Models, All Star Sprints postpone April events

Lucas Oil Dirt
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In separate press releases, the Lucas Oil Late Model series and the All Star Circuit of Champions announced the postponement of their April schedules.

Both releases cite extended federal social distancing guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the postponements and cancelations.

For the Lucas Oil Late Model series, the extension affects races at Hagerstown Speedway (originally scheduled for April 18), Port Royal Speedway (April 19), Tri-City Speedway (April 24), and Macon Speedway (April 25). The series hopes to resume the original schedule on May 1st at Ponderosa Speedway and May 2nd at Florence Speedway.

Port Royal Speedway’s Rumble by the River, originally scheduled for April 19th, has been postponed until Thursday, August 27th.

The Nininger Tribute at Hagerstown Speedway, scheduled for April 18th, has now been canceled. Also canceled are the Budweiser 50 at Tri-City Speedway scheduled for April 24th and the April 25th event at Macon Speedway.

At this time, races are set to resume on May 1 at Ponderosa Speedway in Junction City, Kentucky. Backup dates have been announced for Ponderosa (September 4) and Florence Speedway (August 12) should they be needed.

The events affected for the All Star Circuit of Champions include Attica Raceway Park’s Spring Nationals (April 10-11), Thursday Night Thunder at Virginia Motor Speedway (April 16), the Tommy Hinnershitz Classic at Williams Grove Speedway (April 17), the Keith Kauffman Classic at Port Royal Speedway (April 18), the Johnny Grum Classic at Bedford Speedway (April 19) and the season’s first visit to Wayne County Speedway (April 25).

Series and track officials are working together to find suitable make-up dates.

“We are all in the same boat with every other sanctioning body and sports league in America right now and we want to be part of the solution and abide by state orders and federal guidelines,” said Tony Stewart, owner of the All Stars in a press release. “Originally, we were going to take a week-to-week approach, but with the stay at home orders in certain states and social distancing guidelines, it made sense to postpone the month of April. We aren’t going to put anyone on the road and at risk until we are given the green light by state and federal officials. Thank you to the tracks for the open lines of communication over the past few weeks. We hope to reschedule as many dates as possible once we are able to return to racing.”

Conditions permitting, the All Star Circuit of Champions will begin their 2020 championship point season on Friday and Saturday, May 1-2, with visits to Lernerville Speedway and Sharon Speedway, respectively.

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