Marcos Ambrose has quiet first practice for V8 Supercars finale in Sydney

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It was an uneventful return for erstwhile NASCAR racer Marcos Ambrose to the Australian V8 Supercars series in Sydney.

Ambrose, who’s driving in this weekend’s V8 season finale ahead of a full-time V8 ride in 2015 for DJR Team Penske, was 24th on the time sheets in the opening practice for the Sydney 500.

However, not much should be placed on the result as Ambrose has never competed on the Sydney course, which runs through the city’s Olympic Park area.

Thus, the first session was simply about getting acquainted with the track and re-acquainted with a V8 cockpit in general.

Three races will be held this weekend – a pair of 125-kilometer sprints tonight and a 250-kilometer feature on Saturday night.

Ambrose posted a fast lap of 1 minute, 29.559 seconds in his No. 66 Xbox Australia Ford Falcon on Friday, which was well behind the day’s top time of 1 minute, 28.1214 seconds from James Courtney in his Holden Commodore.

Still, Ambrose considered the outing a success.

“It has been a great day for us really,” he said after practice. “Just to get re-acclimatized with a V8 Supercar in competition and on a tough track like Homebush has been good. I have just taken my time with it today, but we will know where we stack up tomorrow when we bolt on new tires.”

Ambrose is hopeful to qualify decently for the two sprint races, which are scheduled to take place later tonight (Saturday in Oz) at 10:30 p.m. and 12:50 a.m. ET. He’s also looking to shore up his braking skills in the Falcon as he gets used to the course.

“Here, at a street track, there’s no room for error,” he said to the V8 website. “I’m trying to creep up on the brakes but it’s kind of hard to here because the corners are hard to see and I just don’t know the limits.

“I haven’t raced here to know, as the track gets better, my brakes aren’t keeping up with it. I’ve just got to get that feel and once I do, I’ll be fine.”

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.