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Rahal fastest in opening practice at Detroit

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DETROIT – Graham Rahal topped the opening 45-minute practice session for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Presented by Lear on Friday.

Driving the No. 15 SoldierStrong/ Honda, Rahal posted a best time of 1:15.3328 around the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway on Belle Isle street course.

It’s not been the best season results-wise for Rahal this year, with a best finish of sixth in the INDYCAR Grand Prix (coincidentally, the last time he’s been in this patriotic livery), and he enters the weekend 15th in points.

A pair of Team Penske drivers were next, Helio Castroneves and Josef Newgarden, with Alexander Rossi (Andretti-Herta Autosport) and Will Power completing the top five.

Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato was 12th in the session in the No. 26 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda for Andretti Autosport.

Of note, Scott Dixon had a rare spin in the No. 9 Camping World Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing at Turn 13, but didn’t hit anything. That brought out a red flag.

“I’m sore but it’s good to be back on track,” Dixon told IndyCar Radio’s Dave Furst, while hailing the crew for building up the car this week.

Also of note, Oriol Servia was 20th in his first session in the No. 16 Fifth Third Honda for RLL Racing, with Dale Coyne Racing teammates Esteban Gutierrez (1:18.2289 after 20 laps) and rookie Ed Jones (1:18.9603 after 18) bringing up the rear.

Gutierrez, the Mexican former Formula 1 driver, makes his IndyCar debut this weekend in the No. 18 Honda.

Times are below. The second practice session runs from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.

Gabby Chaves to sub for Joao Barbosa at Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen

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Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.

The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.

Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.

Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.

“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”

Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”

Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.

The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.