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Dixon, Hunter-Reay, Rossi fastest in first IndyCar practice at Long Beach

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Scott Dixon was fastest in the first of two practice sessions Friday in preparation for Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Dixon, of Chip Ganassi Racing, covered the 11-turn, 1.968-mile temporary street course along the Long Beach oceanfront in a time of 1:08.4112.

Second quickest was Ryan Hunter-Reay at 1:08.4285, followed by Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi (1:08.6077), Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud (1:08.7790) and defending race winner from last year at Long Beach, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe (1:08.9133).

Sixth through 10th quickest in the 24 cars in the field were former Long Beach winner Takuma Sato (1:08.9295) of Rahal Letterman and Lanigan Racing, Team Penske’s Will Power (1:08.9481), Team Penske’s and Phoenix winner Josef Newgarden (1:08.9600), A.J. Foyt Racing’s Tony Kanaan (1:08.9675) and St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais (1:09.1270) of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser/Sullivan.

While the conditions were excellent, with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70s, there still were several incidents during the 45-minute practice session:

* About 15 minutes into practice, the red flag came out when Gabby Chaves stopped on the racetrack.

* Alexander Rossi went into the run-off area when he missed a turn with about seven minutes left in the session, but backed up and got going again.

* Kyle Kaiser coming into Turn 1 and locked up on the brakes and ended up in the run-off area in the closing minutes of practice.

* Just a minute or so later, Charlie Kimball spun into a run-off area in Turn 8 and had to be towed back to the pits.

Today’s second practice session will begin at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT and run for one hour.

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IndyCar’s Vasser-Sullivan expand into IMSA for 2019

James Sullivan and Jimmy Vasser. Photo IndyCar
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Not even one year after returning to the IndyCar ranks, Vasser-Sullivan Racing is taking AIM at the IMSA world, you might say.

While team co-owners Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan will continue to partner with Dale Coyne Racing on the IndyCar side, they expanded their holdings Tuesday, announcing a partnership with AIM Autosport to campaign a new two-car Lexus-backed RC F GT3 effort in IMSA’s GT Daytona class.

The new team – named AIM Vasser-Sullivan – will replace 3GT Racing, which was part of Lexus’ sports car program launch in 2016. It will announce its two drivers in the coming weeks, the team said.

“Sulli and I are excited and looking forward to entering a new chapter in our racing careers,” Vasser said in a media release. “I have driven sports cars before, but my career was pretty much limited to the 24 Hours of Daytona, including a ‘class’ win in 1992 and second overall in 2008.

“The AIM Vasser Sullivan team, with the support of Lexus and our sponsors, has the tools to get the job done and we are looking forward to this new challenge.”

Lexus has made significant progress in its first two seasons in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition, having earned a combined two race wins, five poles and finished third in the 2018 GTD Manufacturer point standings.

Vasser and Sullivan were part of the ownership group of KVSH Racing in IndyCar from 2011 through 2016 before the organization folded.

They also owned Tony Kanaan’s 2013 Indianapolis 500-winning car.

After sitting out the 2017 season, Vasser, a former CART champion, and Sullivan rejoined forces this past February, just before the start of the 2018 IndyCar season, partnering with Coyne to form a satellite team led by driver Sebastien Bourdais, who previously drove for KVSH.

Bourdais kicked off the new team’s effort with a win in the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He finished seventh in the overall season standings.

AIM Vasser Sullivan will have two home bases for its IMSA program: AIM’s current facility in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, as well as a new U.S. shop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Follow @JerryBonkowski