Final practice for Saturday’s Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix (9:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN) was held under the lights at ISM Raceway, and Carlin’s Charlie Kimball, in the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet, found himself at the top of the speed charts when the checkered flag waved on the final practice.
Kimball’s best lap of 179.797 mph bettered Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, whose best lap in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda came in at 179.003 mph, with Kimball and Dixon the only two to break through the 179 mph barrier during the final practice.
A.J. Foyt Racing’s Tony Kanaan was third in his No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet, with Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi fourth in the No. 27 MilitaryToMotorsports.com Honda. Harding Racing’s Gabby Chaves completed the top five in the No. 88 Chevrolet. Of note: pole sitter Sebastien Bourdais was 21st in the No. 19 SealMaster Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan.
The lone incident of the session came in the final minutes as Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot drifted high exiting Turn 4 and brushed the outside wall before coming to a stop on the front straightaway.
Pigot’s No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet did not suffer much damage beyond some bent suspension pieces, but it was just extensive enough to prevent him from going back out as the session came to a close.
Results from final practice are below.
The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.
With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.
Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.
With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.
“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!
“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”
Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.
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