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Rossi, Dixon, Hunter-Reay fastest in final warmup for today’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

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Polesitter Alexander Rossi continued to have the car to beat in Sunday morning’s final practice for the 44th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Rossi led the 30-minute warmup with a time of 1:07.5366 at 104.903 mph. He covered 16 laps on the 1.968-mile temporary street course.

Scott Dixon was one of only a few drivers that took the most laps, 19, but it proved worth it for him as he was second-quickest (1:07.6270) at 104.763 mph.

Third was Ryan Hunter-Reay (1:07.8040 at 104.489 mph), followed by Phoenix winner Josef Newgarden (1:07.9952 at 104.225 mph) and Simon Pagenaud (1:08.0198 and 104.188 mph).

Sixth through 10th were outside pole sitter for today’s race Will Power (1:08.1903/103.927), James Hinchcliffe (1:08.2528/103.832), St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais (1:08.3490/103.686), Spencer Pigot (1:08.4049/103.601) and Max Chilton (1:08.4152/103.585).

There was two incidents of note in the 30-minute practice:

* Gabby Chaves ran into a run-off area in Turn 9 with about six minutes remaining, bringing out a brief red flag practice stoppage.

* With about one minute left, Zachary Clemen De Melo also carried into the same run-off area in Turn 9, bringing out the red flag and ending the session.

Also of note for today’s race, which airs live on NBCSN starting with the pre-race show at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT and then takes the green flag at 4:30 p.m. ET:

* Al Unser Jr. is the all-time leader in wins at Long Beach with six visits to victory lane.

* From a team perspective, three organizations are tied for most wins at Long Beach, with six each: Chip Ganassi Racing, Team Penske and the former Newman-Haas Racing.

* But with Rossi and Andretti Autosport looking so strong this weekend, including Rossi starting today’s race on the pole, will Ganassi or Penske finally be able to break that record — or will they have to wait again until next year?

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Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.