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Rahal nips Rossi for top spot in opening practice at Watkins Glen

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal went quickest in opening practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen (1:30 p.m., NBCSN), nipping Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi as on his final lap as Rossi spent most of the session at the top of the speed charts.

Rahal’s quick lap of 1:23.2603 bettered Rossi’s 1:23.4686 by two tenths of a second. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Max Chilton and Scott Dixon ended up third and fourth, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe in fifth, making it a top five sweep for Honda in the opening practice.

Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot was the quickest Chevrolet in sixth. Championship leader Josef Newgarden was ninth, with teammates and fellow title combatants Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves ending up 10th and 11th respectively.

The session saw no stoppages, although a few drivers had minor incidents. Alexander Rossi had a minor off in the bus stop chicane that saw him run slightly wide into the runoff area, while James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay had quick spins of their. However, none made any wall contact and all three quickly regrouped and continued on.

Also of note: Jack Harvey, on his debut with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, ended up 20th.

Times are below. Second practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series begins at 3:05 p.m. ET.

Follow @KyleMLavigne

WATCH LIVE: IndyCar practice and qualifying at Laguna Seca

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For the first time in 15 years, Indy cars will be racing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and the stakes have never been higher.

Tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Monterey is the final race of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season, and with four drivers mathematically eligible for the series championship, there will be plenty of story lines to follow.

Current series points leader Josef Newgarden enters this weekend with a 41-point lead over second-place Alexander Rossi.

A California native, Rossi attended his first IndyCar race with his father as child at Laguna Seca when he was three years old.

He now hopes to win his first IndyCar championship at the track where he fell in love with the sport, but after suffering a broken bolt in practice 1 yesterday, he will need to find speed in P3 and qualifying today in order to put himself in the best position to fight for the title.

Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon are also in contention to win the championship this weekend, and another title would only add to their already illustrious IndyCar careers.

Leigh Diffey, Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell will call today’s on-track action from the booth, while Marty Snider, Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller will report from the pits.

Here is today’s schedule:

(All times are Eastern)

Saturday 9/21, 1 p.m. ET, IndyCar Practice 3, NBC Sports Gold 

Saturday 9/21, 4:30 p.m. ET, IndyCar Qualifying, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold

Saturday 9/21, 6 p.m. ET, Indy Lights Race 1, NBC Sports Gold 

 

For sessions on NBC Sports Gold, be sure to have your username and password handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.