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Simon Pagenaud leaps into Wisconsin Media Tour

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Two days after finishing second in the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix on one of IndyCar’s shortest ovals to take the Verizon IndyCar Series points lead, Simon Pagenaud headed north to help promote the June 26th race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.

While the two tracks are distinctly different in terms of size and configuration, they share one thing in common. Both return to the 2016 Verizon IndyCar schedule after extended absences.

IndyCar last ran at Phoenix International Raceway in 2005. Road America hosted a race under the Champ Car banner in 2007 (Pagenaud was a rookie that year and finished 11th), so local fans needed a little refresher beyond the test the track hosted in September.

“(Phoenix) was a great event, and I think here is going to be awesome,” Pagenaud told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “The fans are always great here in Road America. I had a chance to race a lot in sports cars here and the fans always show up. It should be a great race. It’s quite a unique track.

Pagenaud took to the WFRV television studio in Green Bay, Wis. to promote the race.

But as he spoke, he had other things on his mind. A trip to Green Bay would not be complete without a visit to the iconic Lambeau Field—which was at least not frozen at this time of year. And a visit to the stadium would not be complete without a chance to make the Lambeau Leap.

This June, Pagenaud may literally have a step up on the competition. Before he left the stadium, he took a moment to rub Vince Lombardi’s feet for good luck.

IndyCar visits Road America the weekend of June 26th.

Follow: @FantasyRace


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.