IndyCar

IndyCar: Rossi, Dixon once again 1-2 in final Gateway practice

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Perhaps leaving the best for last, Alexander Rossi roared to the top of the speed chart in the final two minutes of Friday night’s final practice for Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park (8 pm ET on NBCSN).

Rossi, who is looking to win his third consecutive IndyCar race Saturday, turned in a best lap of 183.060 mph at 24.5821 seconds.

And, just like in the first practice earlier in the day, Rossi once again was No. 1, and Scott Dixon also waited until the last minute before he grabbed the second-fastest spot again in the second session at 183.022 mph (at 24.5872).

Arguably the biggest surprise of the session was rookie IndyCar driver Pietro Fittipaldi, driver of the Dale Coyne Racing No. 19 Paysafe Honda.

Pietro – the grandson of two-time F1 champion, as well as USAC and CART champion Emerson Fittipaldi – put down a very solid top lap at 182.294 mph at 24.6854 seconds to give him third-fastest speed of the session.

“Obviously I’m happy, the car has a lot of performance,” Fittipaldi told the IndyCar Radio Network. “This is practice, it’s disappointing I’ll have to start from the back tomorrow since qualifying was cancelled (due to rain).

“I know we have a strong car and we’ll do our best tomorrow.”

Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Ed Jones, also turned in a big lap, coming in fourth-fastest (182.268 mph at 24.6889), while Zack Veach (182.250 at 24.6913) rounded out the top five.

Sixth through 10th were Ryan Hunter-Reay (182.195 at 26.6988), Tony Kanaan (181.773 at 24.7562), Graham Rahal (180.978 at 24.8649), Sebastien Bourdais (180.924 at 24.8723) and Will Power (180.843 at 24.8835).

Because rain impacted part of the day’s first practice session, which ultimately ended about six minutes early due to the wet stuff, IndyCar officials subsequently cancelled qualifying and then extended the final practice from a scheduled 60 minutes to 90 minutes.

The extra time significantly helped teams in determining a number of areas, including race set-up, tire degradation, balance, wing adjustment and more.

There was one minor incident in the session. With about 40 minutes left, defending race winner and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden grazed the Turn 4 wall.

While the contact looked slight, it obviously had a big impact on Newgarden’s Chevrolet-powered ride, as he ultimately parked it with about 23 minutes left in the session after 61 laps around the 1.250-mile oval. Newgarden’s best lap speed was 180.584 mph at 24.9192 seconds, good for 12th-fastest among the 21-driver field

“I made a mistake there and we’re not 100 percent sure with it, but something’s not right with the right rear,” Newgarden told the IndyCar Radio Network. “We just didn’t have enough time to fix it.

“We lost a little bit of track time but I still think we have a good car for tomorrow.”

Dixon holds a 29-point edge over Rossi in the Verizon IndyCar Series point standings. Newgarden is 66 points back and his Team Penske teammate Will Power is 81 points back, with three races remaining on the 2018 schedule.

While Dixon still leads the points standings, Rossi comes into Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 having won the last two races (Mid-Ohio and Pocono).

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Dakar Stage 8 Highlights: Ricky Brabec blows engine, retires

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The motorcycle class of the Dakar Rally has been a seesaw affair through seven stages, but Ricky Brabec seemed poised to win the class for the USA. Until he blew an engine in Stage 8 that is – and gave up a more-than seven second lead. He was the second rider to retire after starting the stage as the leader. Joan Barreda retired in Stage 3.

Brabec was looking to become the first American rider to win in 27 years, but his fate was eerily similar to last year. Three days from the end of the stage, he retired about 50 kilometers into the stage, which is precisely when and where he retired in 2018.

With Brabec’s trouble, Toby Price leapfrogged from third to second in class despite riding with a metal pin in his wrist. In the world’s most grueling endurance event, it has never been more obvious that it isn’t over till it’s over.

Meanwhile, Nasser Al-Attiyah continues to run a consistent rally. With a 46 minute advantage over Nani Roma and Sebastien Loeb, all he needs to do is stay error free for the final two stages to win his third Dakar.

Here are some of the other highlights:

In the cars class, Sebastien Loeb scored his fifth stage win of the Rally by seven minutes over Nasser Al-Attiyah, but problems in Stage 3 have kept him from being competitive for the overall lead. … Jakub Przygonski earned his third podium of the Rally. All of these have been third-place finishes.

Class Leaders: Al-Attiyah holds an advantage of 46:29 over Roma and 46:45 over Loeb.

In motorcycles, Ricky Brabec’s blown engine opened up the class once more. … Matthias Walkner narrowly edged Pablo Quintanilla by 45 seconds. … But it was Toby Price’s third-place finish that helped elevate him to the class lead. … Sam Sunderland was supposed to blaze the path for the riders, but a malfunctioning navigation system kept him from rolling off first. Blazing the trail is a disadvantage and officials adjudged him to have tampered with his system to avoid that fate. Sunderland was penalized an hour to finish 35th on the stage. He dropped to ninth in class.

Class Leaders: Price inherited the lead over Quintanilla by 1:03 and 6:35 over Walkner

In side by sides, Francisco Lopez Contardo scored the victory over Cristian Baumgart by 4:47. … Gerard Farres Guell rounded out the top three.

Class Leaders: Contardo holds an advantage 0f 54:10 over Rodrigo Piazolli and one hour, 08:09 over Guell

In quads, there was no surprise in Nicolas Cavigliasso winning his seventh stage of the season. … He padded his overall advantage over Gustavo Gallego by more than nine minutes. … Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli finished third.

Class Leaders: Cavigliasso holds and advantage of one hour, 24:52 over Ferioli and one hour, 44:04 over Gallego

In trucks, Dmitry Sotnikov won the stage to take over the class lead. He beat Ton Van Genugten by 22:01. … Siarhei Viazovich rounded out the top three. … Eduard Nikolaev lost the class lead by finishing eighth – nearly one hour behind Sotnikov.

Class Leaders: Sotnikov holds an advantage of 26:49 over and one hour, 7:43 over Gerard de Rooy

Stage Wins

Motorcycles
Sam Sunderland [2] (Stage 5 and 7), Matthias Walkner [2] (Stage 2 and 8), Joan Barreda [1] (Stage 1), Xavier de Soultrait [1] (Stage 3), Ricky Brabec [1] (Stage 4) and Pablo Quintanilla [1] (Stage 6)

Quads
Nicolas Cavigliasso [7] (Stage 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8) and Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli [1] (Stage 3)

Cars
Sebastien Loeb [4] (Stage 2, 5, 6 and 8), Nasser Al-Attiyah [2] (Stage 1 and 4) and Stephane Peterhansel [2] (Stage 3 and 7)

Side-by-sides
Francisco Lopez Contardo [4] (Stage 2, 6, 7 and 8), Reinaldo Varela [1] (Stage 1), Gerard Farres Guell [1] (Stage 3), Sergei Kariakin [1] (Stage 4) and Rodrigo Piazzoli [1] (Stage 5)

Trucks
Eduard Nikolaev [3] (Stage 1, 2 and 5), Andrey Karginov [2] (Stage 3 and 4), Dmitry Sotnikov [2] (Stage 6 and 8) and Gerard de Rooy [1] (Stage 7)

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