IndyCar

INDYCAR: Sebastien Bourdais is quickest in first of 2 practices today at Mid-Ohio

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Sebastien Bourdais typically excels at road courses and Friday morning’s first of two IndyCar practice sessions at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was a perfect example of that.

Bourdais had a best lap of 1:05.5784 at 123.955 mph to pace the 24 drivers in the field for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at the 2.25-mile twisting road course in north-central Ohio.

“We got a baseline,” Bourdais told the IndyCar Radio Network. “We didn’t test here because we only have one test day left at Gateway. We pretty much through the kitchen sink at it and the guys did a real good job. The car is real close, I think.”

Josef Newgarden was second-quickest (1:05.9167 at 123.319 mph), followed by series points leader Scott Dixon (1:06.2157 at 122.762 mph), Takuma Sato (1:06.2424 at 122.713) and Spencer Pigot (1:06.2456).

Of note during the session:

* Takuma Sato went off the track briefly with about 30 minutes left in the session, but was able to recover and continue on without incurring any damage.

* Matheus Leist slid off the track entering Turn 5 in the hairpin turn, bringing out a brief red flag practice stoppage. Leist did not hit anything and was able to get his car back on-track.

* Robert Wickens pulled his car off the track after a puff of smoke came out of the rear of his No. 6 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, bringing out a brief flag.

* With just over three minutes to go in the session, Zach Veach looped his car, didn’t hit anything and was able to continue on.

* The session ended in a dicey situation. Will Power spun in Turn 9, trying to avoid slow-moving teammate Simon Pagenaud. Former Mid-Ohio winner (2013) Charlie Kimball then ran into the rear of Tony Kanaan, leaving Kimball’s car with front end damage.

“I was coming with a big head of steam on hot tires, and by the time I turned in and saw the yellow, the 14 was backing up because he had a little clearer vision,” Kimball said. “I feel bad about getting into the 14. Hopefully, it didn’t do too much damage to him and us.”

Added Power, “It was pretty hectic. I was worried that I spun at the crest of hill and nobody could see you. The car isn’t that bad. We’re creeping up on it, understanding what we need.”

There will be one more practice session today at 2:30 p.m. ET, followed by a session Saturday morning before qualifying takes place early in the afternoon to set the field for Sunday’s race.

Also of note:

* Conor Daly is back for a second straight race in the No. 88 for Harding Racing. Daly replaced Gabby Chaves at Toronto, finished 13th.

* Pietro Fittipaldi returned to action for Dale Coyne Racing after suffering a broken leg nearly three months ago.

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Will Power, Roger Penske collect Indy 500 trophies

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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DETROIT (AP) Last year, Will Power finally broke through and won the Indianapolis 500, so he can cross that accomplishment off the list.

Now 37, Power is reaching an age when it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll keep at it.

“I’m really enjoying my racing. I’ve never been so motivated. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, mentally on the game,” Power said. “I think once you get to this part of your career, you realize that you’re not going to be doing this forever. So you’ve got to enjoy it and you’ve got to go for it when you’ve got it, because, you know, probably only another five years at maximum, and you’re retired.”

Whenever Power’s career does wind down, his 2018 Indy 500 win will remain a moment to remember. He was in Detroit on Wednesday night with team owner Roger Penske for a ceremony in which they received their “Baby Borg” trophies for winning last year’s race. The Baby Borgs are replicas of the Borg-Warner Trophy that honors the Indy 500 winner.

Power finished second at Indy in 2015, and his victory last year made him the race’s first Australian winner. It was Penske’s 17th Indy 500 win as an owner, part of a banner year for him. Penske also won a NASCAR Cup title with driver Joey Logano.

“When you think about 2018, we had 32 race wins, 35 poles. I think we led almost 5,400 laps, with all the series,” Penske said.

On Wednesday, Penske collected another significant trophy, and he’ll be celebrated again in a couple weeks. He’s being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 1.

“It’s amazing that a guy from the north can get into the Hall of Fame in the south,” Penske joked. “No, it’s special. … NASCAR has helped us build our brand over the years, certainly, with the reputation it has, and the notoriety we get, being a NASCAR team owner.”

Penske’s most recent Indy 500 title came courtesy of Power, who long preferred road courses to ovals but certainly looked comfortable at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year.

“The 500 was one record that he didn’t have, and I think you saw the excitement he and his wife, and the whole team, when he was able to win the race,” Penske said. “He’s probably the best qualifier we’ve ever had, as a road racer, and no question his expertise. He didn’t like ovals to start with, but I think today, he loves racing on ovals.”

Power seems content with all aspects of his racing life at the moment. The aftermath of an Indy 500 victory can be a whirlwind, and it would be understandable for a driver to be weary of it eight months later, but for Power, it’s a new experience.

“I’ve been looking forward to this event for a few months now, to actually get the Baby Borg. You have the face on it – I didn’t realize that, you actually get your own face on it,” Power said. “It makes you realize the significance of the event, when you think about all the things that come with winning the 500.”

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Follow Noah Trister at http://www.Twitter.com/noahtrister