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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.

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.