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IndyCar: Championship leader Dixon tops Sonoma Practice 3; Rossi ends session in fourth

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Points leader Scott Dixon topped final practice ahead of qualifying for Sunday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma (6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Dixon’s best lap of the session came in at 1:17.9697, actually just over a tenth of a second slower than Josef Newgarden’s fast lap (1:17.8156) from Practice 2, and four tenths of a second off Ryan Hunter-Reay’s quick lap from opening practice, which came in at 1:17.5742.

Nonetheless, Dixon, who was second fastest in each of Friday’s practices, appears to be one of the drivers to beat ahead of Saturday qualifying.

Will Power, who trails Dixon by 87 points, was second in Practice 3 with a time of 1:17.9793 – Dixon and Power were also the only two drivers below the 1:18 mark in the session.

Ryan Hunter-Reay ended practice in third, while Dixon’s main title rival Alexander Rossi, 29 points behind Dixon entering the weekend, was fourth.

Josef Newgarden, who like Power is still mathematically in the title picture at 87 points off the lead, was fifth. Of note: Newgarden was forced to sit out the final ten minutes of Practice 3 after hitting personnel during pit stop practice on Friday.

Simon Pagenaud, Zach Veach, Takuma Sato, Santino Ferrucci, and Marco Andretti rounded out the top 10. Other notables include Patricio O’Ward (21st), Colton Herta (22nd), and Tony Kanaan (23rd).

The lone stoppage of the session came with less than two minutes remaining after Carlos Munoz spun in Turns 9 and 9a, which comprise the chicane before the final hairpin.

However, Munoz was able to continue, and IndyCar officials allowed teams and drivers one extra lap of practice before displaying the checkered flag. Munoz ended up 19th.

Results are below. Qualifying begins at 6:00 p.m. ET (3:00 p.m. local time), and will air on NBCSN at 8:00 p.m. ET.

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IMSA’s Bill Auberlen joins NASCAR America to discuss this weekend’s race at Lime Rock

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Turner Motorsport GTD driver Bill Auberlen joined NBC Sports’ Marty Snyder on NASCAR America Presents the Motorsports Hour Thursday to discuss a variety of topics, including Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship race at Lime Rock Park.

Auberlen, alongside co-driver Robby Foley, enters Lime Rock with a great amount of momentum after finishing on the GTD podium at Watkins Glen and taking the GTD class honors in the most recent IMSA race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

There’s also an extra incentive for the duo to win this weekend as well, as Auberlen is one win away from tying Scott Pruett for the most IMSA victories all-time.

Both drivers will have to be on their A-game this weekend, however, as Auberlen stated that Lime Rock is one of the tougher circuits on the IMSA calendar and compared the 1.5-mile Connecticut road course to a short track.

“It’s what we call the bullring of our season,” Auberlen said. “It is a 54-second lap and we’re going to go around it a million times before the end of the day. It’s going to be a hot one, and I think whoever survives this is going to be on the podium.”

Luckily for the GTD and GTLM teams, with no Protoype and LMP2 entries competing at Lime Rock this weekend, the worry of having to yield to entries from the faster classes is gone.

“These Protoypes are so fast now, that interacting with them, you can’t imagine,” Auberlen said. “We have radars in our car that can alert us when they are coming.

“They get on you so fast that if you’re not always looking or something is not telling you they’re coming, you could have a problem and catch into them. That’s gone. Now it’s going to be focus-forward. You’re going to be focused on everything ahead of you. You got GLTM in there at the same time, but they’re virtually the same speed as us – just a little bit faster.

“It’s going to be nice. When you stand on that podium you might be able to go for an overall victory.”

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