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Veach tops opening IndyCar practice at Pocono

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LONG POND, Pa – After a delay of 30 minutes due to track drying – overnight rains hit Pocono Raceway and the surrounding area – opening practice for Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) got underway at 11:00 a.m. ET.

Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach topped the speed charts in that opening practice, with a fastest speed of 217.393 mph. Veach also posted the best no-tow speed at 214.233 mph.

Behind Veach, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden was second with quick lap of 217.016 mph – Veach and Newgarden were also the only drivers above the 217 mark in the first practice.

Veach’s teammate Alexander Rossi was third. Sebastien Bourdais was fourth for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan, while A.J. Foyt Racing’s Tony Kanaan rounded out the top five.

The lone interruption in the session came with just over 10 minutes remaining, with a yellow for a track inspection to check for debris. However, the session itself saw no on-track incidents.

Of note: Conor Daly and Harding Racing experienced a mechanical problem that limited their running during the session. Daly was able to complete 15 timed laps, but only with a best lap of 206.012 mph.

Results are below. Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET.

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Alex Zanardi showing signs of interaction three months after crash

Alex Zanardi recovery
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
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MILAN — Italian racing driver turned Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi has started responding to treatment with signs of interaction, more than three months after he was seriously injured in a handbike crash.

Zanardi has spent most of that time in intensive care after crashing into an oncoming truck during a relay event near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19.

“For several days now. Alex Zanardi has undergone cognitive and motor rehabilitation sessions, with the administration of visual and acoustic stimuli, to which the patient responds with momentary and initial signs of interaction,” the San Raffaele hospital in Milan said in a statement Thursday.

The hospital said that is “significant progress” but added that his condition remains serious, and that it would be “absolutely premature” to make a long-term prognosis.

Zanardi, 53, suffered serious facial and cranial trauma in the crash and was put in a medically induced coma. Doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

He was operated on several times to stabilize him and reconstruct his severely damaged face and the Milan hospital added that he recently had undergone another surgery to reconstruct his skull and would have another one in the coming weeks.

Zanardi lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago. He won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.