Josef Newgarden was quickest in the final Verizon IndyCar Series practice session for this afternoon’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway.
Newgarden had a field-best elapsed time of 1:17.6431 and speed of 110.583 mph.
Scott Dixon, whose reign as 2015 series champion comes to an end today, made a strong run in the closing minutes to record the second-best effort (1:17.6600 at 110.559), followed by Takuma Sato (1:18.1803 at 109.823), Charlie Kimball (1:18.1921 at 109.806) and Alexander Rossi (1:18.2923 at 109.666).
Pole-sitter Simon Pagenaud (1:18.8396 at 108.905) and sole championship challenger Will Power (1:19.0236 at 108.651) were 18th and 20th quickest, but there are no worries there.
They were simply shaking their cars down in preparation for this afternoon’s race, which begins at 6:50 p.m. ET/3:50 p.m. PT. The race will be televised live on NBCSN, which begins with pre-race coverage at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.
Marco Andretti, who was quickest and fastest in Saturday’s third practice, was 13th in Sunday’s final session (1:18.6141 at 109.217 mph)
Conor Daly was slowest of the 22 drivers on-track (1:19.0374 at 108.632).
Here’s how the final practice session played out:
In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.
Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.
Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.
The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.
“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”
Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.
SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.
When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.
SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.
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