IndyCar

IndyCar: Hunter-Reay, Dixon, Power top first Sonoma practice

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SONOMA, California — Ryan Hunter-Reay was fastest in the first of two practices for the Verizon IndyCar Series Friday morning.

The Andretti Autosport driver covered the 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course with a best lap speed of 1:17.5742 at a speed of 110.681.

Second- fastest and quickest was current series points leader Scott Dixon (1:17.8268 at 110.322 mph). Dixon comes into this weekend with a 29-point lead over Alexander Rossi and a large 87-point edge over Team Penske teammates Will Power and defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden.

Speaking of Power, he was third-fastest (1:17.8818/110.244), followed by teammate Simon Pagenaud (1:17.9586/110.135) and another Andretti Autosport driver, Marco Andretti (1:18.0878/109.953).

Sixth through 10th were Ed Jones (1:18.1385/109.882), Graham Rahal (1:18.1665/109.842), championship contender Alexander Rossi (1:18.2738/109.692 ), Zach Veach (1:18.3541/109.579) and Sebastien Bourdais (1:18.3709/109.556).

Of note, Newgarden did not even take to the track during the entire practice as the team worked on what reportedly was a possible fuel pressure issue in his race car.

On top of that, Newgarden is battling what he called food poisoning, but hopes to be much better by Saturday.

There were three incidents of note during the 45-minute session:

* About 15 minutes in, championship contender Alexander Rossi spun in Turn 5, but was able to continue on.

* With about 20 minutes left in the session, James Hinchcliffe spun in Turn 2, winding up in the tire wall. Damage was minimal, he brought his car into the pits, repairs were made and he was back on-track for the final 8 minutes.

* Hinchcliffe spun again in Turn 7 (the hairpin) as time expired in the session.

There was almost an incident when Dixon almost ran into Spencer Pigot of Ed Carpenter Racing late in the session, as well.

Here’s the full practice grid:

Friday’s second practice is slated to start at 3 pm PT/6 pm ET.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Sprint Car driver Greg Hodnett killed in Pennsylvania race crash

Photo: World of Outlaws
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YORK HAVEN, Pa. (AP) — Sprint Car driver Greg Hodnett died after a crash Thursday night at BAPS Motor Speedway.

The 49-year-old Hodnett, from Spring Grove, Pa., was the World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year in 1993 and went on to win 20 World of Outlaws races. He won the opening night this year at the Knoxville Nationals.

“Greg represented the true gentleman competitor in the pit area,” World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter said.

A statement was posted on Hodnett’s racing website, saying: “Please keep (wife) Sherry, the entire Hodnett family, and the Heffner racing team in your thoughts and prayers.

“Greg was a professional in every sense of the word, and will be desperately missed!”

Several NASCAR drivers took to Twitter to express their condolences: