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Ricciardo pleased to back up Red Bull’s confidence in Singapore

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Daniel Ricciardo felt pleased to have backed up Red Bull’s confidence heading into the Singapore Grand Prix weekend by recording his best finish since his victory in the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix.

Red Bull arrived in Singapore hopeful of a good result thanks to the tight and twisting nature of the Marina Bay Street Circuit that masked the deficiencies of the team’s Renault power unit.

Ricciardo and teammate Daniil Kvyat excelled in qualifying to line up second and fourth on the grid respectively. Although Kvyat could only finish sixth in the race, Ricciardo managed to lead Red Bull’s charge to finish second, just 1.4 seconds shy of race winner Sebastian Vettel.

Ricciardo was pleased that Red Bull backed up its confidence heading into the weekend with a strong result, having made the most of Mercedes’ difficulties.

“It’s really good to back it up,” Ricciardo said. “We came in here pretty confident. I’m always careful not to be overconfident, but yeah, I think the pace we showed all weekend was strong.

“The race pace was good. I think we matched Seb. We’ve got to be pretty happy with this weekend. It’s nice again to capitalize. Budapest we had a chance, and we’ve done it again here.”

Ricciardo placed a great deal of pressure on Vettel throughout the race, but felt that he could have mounted more of a challenge to his former teammate had it not been for two safety car periods.

“At the start of the race he just went, and realized towards the end of the stint I was coming,” Ricciardo said. “I think if it wasn’t for the safety car it would have got pretty close in terms of the pit stop. Maybe an undercut was possible.

“But then in the second stint seemed like he sort of learned from the first, backed us up, and then just went after that. I think both safety cars came out at a pretty crucial time, but nonetheless, his pace was good, and I think it was quite representative of qualifying. We seemed to be the two quickest cars today.”

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

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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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.