Hunter-Reay leads as times plunge in second practice at Sonoma

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SONOMA, Calif. – Ryan Hunter-Reay led an all-American top three in the second 45-minute practice session for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway, site of this weekend’s Verizon IndyCar Series season finale.

Hunter-Reay banked his ultimate lap flier early of 1:16.8702 in the No. 28 DHL Honda, a lap time that is nearly a full four tenths faster than Will Power’s track record around the 2.385-mile road course of 1:17.2393 set last year in qualifying.

Hunter-Reay edged Graham Rahal, whose No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake RLL Honda team made some significant rear wicker changes on the car and also sent him out on a fresh set of sticker Firestone blacks towards the end of the session. Rahal posted a 1:16.8989.

Josef Newgarden was third in the No. 67 GoPro CFH Racing Chevrolet at 1:16.9269.

Championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth with Scott Dixon completing the top five. All of the top five drivers have two wins this season.

All of sixth through 10th place were also under Power’s track record mark: Helio Castroneves, Carlos Munoz, Tony Kanaan, Power himself and Simon Pagenaud.

Sebastian Saavedra ended 11th despite losing most of the session after stopping on track at the Carousel, and then heading into the drag strip area. His car was retrieved by the Holmatro Safety Crew and returned to the pits. It brought out the only red flag in the session, roughly at the halfway mark.

Times came down more than a second from yesterday, with temperatures significantly cooler in the morning. A half hour prior to the session, temperatures were 72 degrees ambient and 85 on track; by the green flag time at 10:45 a.m. PT it was 84 and 93, respectively, per Firestone.

Times are below. Qualifying is at 3:05 p.m. PT, 6:05 p.m. ET and live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra at 3:30 p.m. PT, 6:30 p.m. ET, with the potential of starting earlier if the NASCAR Xfinity Series broadcast from Road America ends earlier.


IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”