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IndyCar drivers will honor police when they resume at Texas

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) IndyCar drivers will have “Back The Blue” decals on their cars and wear caps representing local police and national law enforcement agencies when they resume the rain-interrupted race at Texas Motor Speedway on Aug. 27.

Just weeks after the June 12 postponement, five law enforcement officers were shot and killed July 7 in downtown Dallas at the end of a protest over protest over police-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota in the days before that. There have been protests this week in Milwaukee after an officer-involved shooting there.

Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi joined Texas Motor Speedway officials Wednesday on visits to the headquarters of the Fort Worth Police Department and the Dallas Police Department.

“It means a lot, we had an opportunity with the race being rescheduled to do something to show our appreciation, and our respect, and gratitude,” Rossi said. “I’m just honored to be a part of it.”

Rossi and TMS President Eddie Gossage addressed officers at each department, and presented 200 tickets for the race at each stop. Police personnel will be admitted to the race free, along with a companion, by showing their badge.

Gossage said all that is being done is a way to show respect to police and all first responders.

“Our fans’ blood runs red white and blue, probably more than any other sport going, so it just made obvious sense,” Gossage said. “To put the `Back The Blue’ decals on the car and for each of the drivers to wear a hat from a various police department, as opposed to their sponsor hats, that’s a big deal.”

The Texas race in June was first pushed back a day because of rain, then the next day completed only 71 of the scheduled 248 laps before more rain led to an unprecedented 2 1/2-month delay.

Fort Worth police officer Matt Pearce, who survived being shot multiple times by a fugitive during a manhunt in March, will return as Grand Marshal and give the drivers command to start their engines – the same as he did in June. He appreciates what TMS and the IndyCar Series are doing for officers when the race resumes.

“It means a lot to every officer, anybody that wears a badge,” Pearce said. “I know that for me it was a big morale booster knowing that I had support, not only from my guys, but pretty much every agency throughout the Metroplex. I don’t think there’s an agency in Tarrant County that didn’t chip in to support me when I needed their help, and that’s huge. … I really think that has a lot to do with how fast I have recovered.”

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.