Foyt’s pair gets further running in on third day of Indy 500 practice

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Two of A.J. Foyt Enterprises’ three drivers made significant laps in Tuesday’s running at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, before engine change outs and further running set for Wednesday.

As it ended, 14 was the number of the day: 14 positions separated the No. 14 car of Takuma Sato, who was 14th on the day, from full-season teammate Jack Hawksworth in 28th. The team’s third car driven by Alex Tagliani completed only an installation lap.

Sato, a sixth-year IndyCar veteran and in his third with Foyt, topped out at 225.342 mph during his 42 laps, making the No. 14 car the 14th fastest car of the day.

“Another windy day but it was colder so we had a different test menu from yesterday to try to understand the car more, ” Sato said. “We made some improvement, which was positive. At the end of the day we wanted to run in traffic but we had a small issue so we couldn’t achieve that one. I think we learned from running in small traffic today and it felt positive.”

Sato has five years of experience on the 2.5-mile track to use to his advantage. His best performance in the “500” was 13th in 2013, although he nearly won the race a year earlier after a last-lap pass attempt on Dario Franchitti going into Turn 1 before he hit the wall.

His teammate, 24-year-old Hawksworth, still has a lot to learn as he prepares for his second Indy 500 after finishing 20th in 2014 with Bryan Herta Autosport. This year’s “500” will be just his seventh IndyCar race on an oval.

In Tuesday’s session, Hawkworth and his No. 41 ABC Supply Co. Honda finished as the 28th fastest. Hawksworth peaked at 222.448 mph during his 25 laps around the track.

“We had some issues today but we’ll get it sorted,’ Hawksworth said. “Today we wanted to mileage out our engine and we were able to do that. Now the guys can put in the updated spec engine for tomorrow.”

Both Hawksworth and Sato will be looking to give their 2015 campaigns a boost in the Indy 500. Both drivers have only managed to finish in the top 10 once through five races. Hawksworth finished eight in season opener at St. Petersburg and Sato earned his first last weekend in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, finishing ninth.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
IMSA
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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”