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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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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: