Photo: NISMO

PWC: Nissan back with Sanchez, Montecalvo for AE/AIM in SprintX

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The Always Evolving, AIM Autosport and Nissan partnership in Pirelli World Challenge will continue into 2017, with an adjusted lineup and a different race schedule.

Rather than a full season with two cars and James Davison and Bryan Heitkotter as drivers, both of whom have won over the last couple years, the program has been adjusted to see two other young guns splitting one car.

Ricardo Sanchez, the Mexican driver who is a past Nissan GT Academy winner, and sports car veteran Frankie Montecalvo will share the single Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 for SprintX rounds.

Sanchez has raced abroad in the Blancpain GT Series for a couple years while Montecalvo adds this program to a busy 2017 season that has also seen him in an Alex Job Racing Audi R8 LMS in IMSA’s Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup and an ANSA Motorsports KTM X-BOW GT4 in the lone PWC GTS race weekend of the season in St. Petersburg.

“After racing for the past two years in Europe, it’s really exciting to get the chance to race the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in the US,” Sanchez said.

“It’s a completely new chapter for me. I’ve got a whole new set of tracks to learn but the GT-R has been really strong in the U.S. and I’m looking forward to continuing my career in a new country.”

“I’m very excited to team up with Always Evolving and AIM Autosport in the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 for the Sprint X Series,” Montecalvo added.

“I’ve always been a fan of the GT-R, both as a racecar and the streetcar version, and I’m very, very excited to be working together this year.”

This confirmation joins Bentley’s recent announcement Vincent Abril will share the No. 88 Bentley Team Absolute Bentley Continental GT3 with Adderly Fong for all SprintX rounds, with Alexandre Imperatori in for the first two SprintX weekends alongside Yufeng Luo in the No. 78 Bentley.

Few SprintX pairings have yet to be revealed, with one of the notable ones still outstanding the co-driver for Ryan Dalzel in his No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.

The SprintX portion of PWC’s season opens in a couple weeks at VIR, April 28-30.

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.