Ryan Hunter-Reay quickest in last practice for Race 1 in Detroit

Photo: IndyCar
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Ryan Hunter-Reay was quickest of the 23 drivers that took to the Belle Isle street course during Friday’s second practice for this weekend’s two IndyCar races in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

Hunter-Reay covered the 2.3-mile course at a best time of 1 minute, 16.3598 seconds at 110.791 mph.

Scott Dixon was second-fastest (1:16.3667 at 110.781 mph), followed by James Hinchcliffe (1:16.4840 at 110.611 mph), bouncing back from failing to qualify for this past Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

Fourth through 10th were Josef Newgarden (1:16.5864 at 110.463 mph), Marco Andretti (1:16.6198 at 110.415 mph), Graham Rahal (1:16.7098 at 110.286 mph), Simon Pagenaud (1:16.7888 at 110.172 mph), Alexander Rossi (116.7898 at 110.153 mph), Robert Wickens (1:16.7974 at 110.160 mph) and Zach Veach (1:16.8133 at 110.137 mph).

Nine of the top 11 drivers were powered by Honda.

Not surprisingly, the very difficult and worn road course produced a number of incidents during the second session, just like it did in the morning practice.

With about 34 minutes to go in the one-hour session, Jordan King and the No. 20 Chevrolet of Ed Carpenter Racing hit the left side retaining wall entering Turn 13 at full speed, and then shot across the racetrack, striking the right side wall.

“He just said it kind of got away from him in (Turn) 13, it’s unfortunate,” team owner Ed Carpenter told the IMS Radio Network. “It’s a pretty big setback, looks like he got all four corner. This is the last practice before tomorrow’s qualifying and race. It puts us in a tough situation, but we’ve been hear before. We’ll just have to rebound tomorrow.”

Added King, “I just lost the rear, got a bit of a snap on the rear. It really wasn’t even a big thing, but by the time I caught the car, I was too wide, and then the wall is obviously right there. It’s really annoying because it was a tiny error, but it was quite costly.”

At about the same time, Alexander Rossi also scraped the wall in Turn 6.

With less than six minutes left in the session, Tony Kanaan slid into the tire wall in Turn 7, bringing out yet another full course red flag.

Then, in the closing minutes, both Hinchcliffe and Sebastien Bourdais spun in Turn 7, as well.

Qualifying for Saturday’s afternoon race takes place at 10:55 a.m. ET for Group 1, and 11:13 a.m. ET for Group 2.

The race, the first of back-to-back Verizon IndyCar Series events on Saturday and Sunday, starts tomorrow at 3:40 p.m. ET.

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Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
IMSA
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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”