Hunter-Reay quickest in Friday’s second IndyCar practice at Mid-Ohio

Ryan Hunter-Reay
IndyCar
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Ryan Hunter-Reay was quickest in the second of two IndyCar practice sessions Friday afternoon at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Hunter-Reay covered the 2.2-mile permanent road course in 1:05.1950. Hunter-Reay led a Honda-powered contingent that made up seven of the 10 quickest driver times.

“Not having tested here, I’m pleasantly surprised,” Hunter-Reay said. “I thought we would be on the back foot a little bit for day one and a little bit for day two. The team did a good job coming back here preparing for it.

“(The second practice is) a busier run out there. The car is on top of the racetrack. This place can be a little bit strange like that. You have to wait till it rubbers up to tune on the car. Tomorrow we’re going to have to make it a bit better.

“I know Scott (points leader Scott Dixon) is going to be charging right to the front as well. Good thing is we have a good starting spot, a baseline I guess you can say, to build on for tomorrow.”

Second- through fifth-quickest were: Will Power (1:05.3371), Graham Rahal (1:05.4141), Spencer Pigot (1:05.4312) and Alexander Rossi (1:05.4526).

Sixth through 10th were Marco Andretti (1:05.5836), series points leader Scott Dixon (1:05.6063), Ed Jones (1:05.6223), Josef Newgarden (1:05.6585) and Jack Harvey (1:05.7293).

Sebastien Bourdais, who was quickest in the first practice session Friday morning, struggled to 14th-quickest (1:05.9454) in the second session.

Notable incidents during the session included:

* Jack Harvey, making just his fourth race appearance of the season and first since the Indianapolis 500, completely lost power in his Meyer Shank Racing Honda coming out of Turn 9 early in the session.

“I was going through Turn 9 and then I lost everything,” Harvey told the IndyCar Radio Network. “The car just kind of came to a stop. We’re not entirely sure why. It’s something mechanical. We’re hoping to get it fixed here so we can go back out on the track.”

* With about 24 minutes in the session, Will Power lost it in Turn 4, bringing out the red flag again. Power also had an issue in the first practice session, spinning in Turn 12.

* Matheus Leist, who also had a problem in the first practice, spun in Turn 1 with about seven minutes remaining.

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

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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.”