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Ryan Hunter-Reay nips Josef Newgarden in Saturday practice

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Ryan Hunter-Reay remained atop the speed charts Saturday in the final practice before qualifying for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Hunter Reay’s Andretti Autosport Dallara-Honda (1:00.8966) nipped the Team Penske Chevrolet of Josef Newgarden (1:00.9005) by nearly 4 thousandths of a second for the best lap in the 50-minute session. Takuma Sato, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power rounded out the top five.

Hunter-Reay also was fastest in Friday’s combined practice speeds.

Qualifying will take place at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on the 1.8-mile street course, which will play host to the NTT IndyCar Series opener Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on NBCSN.

The rest of the top 10 Saturday morning were Ed Jones, Scott Dixon, Felix Rosenqvist, Colton Herta and Marco Andretti.

After two caution-free sessions Friday, there were four red flags Saturday morning. Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach caused the first, avoiding major damage to his Dallara-Honda when he spun off course and made contact in Turn 13.

The red flag flew a second time for rookie Ben Hanley, who went off course in Turn 4.

Max Chilton brought out another stoppage when he spun in Turn 4 with 8 minutes to go in the session.

The final red flew when Jones spun with less than a minute left, ending the session.

Indy Lights: Askew clinches 2019 title while VeeKay wins Laguna Seca race 1

Indy Lights
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MONTEREY, Calif – Rinus VeeKay may have won the first race of the weekend’s Indy Lights doubleheader at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Saturday afternoon, but all all eyes post-race were all on the driver who finished the race in the fourth position.

That driver was Oliver Askew, who by simply starting the 30-lap event at the famed road course won the 2019 series title, along with the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series scholarship that guarantees a minimum of three races next season.

“It’s all sinking in,” Askew told NBC Sports following the race. “I’m really happy to be part of this team. They’re back to back champions now in Indy Lights, and I feel very fortunate to be driving in this car this year.

“This is what we worked for all year. I’m very happy to be in this position and I can’t wait to celebrate with my team.”

With the championship in Askew’s possession from the get-go, the best VeeKay could do for in race 1 was to win in dominant fashion. He went on to do just so.

After starting the race from the pole position, VeeKay led every lap from start to finish en route to his fifth victory of the season.

“We managed the car well and kept the car consistent throughout the whole race,” VeeKay said. “I got a great car from the team so I want to give a big shout out to them for giving me a winning car.”

Behind VeeKay, Portland race 2 winner Toby Sowery finished the race in the second position, while Robert Megennis finished third.

Live streaming coverage of race two of the Indy Lights doubleheader at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca begins tomorrow afternoon at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold.

Click here for full race results

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