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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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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