Alexander Rossi tops action-filled COTA Practice 3

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Final practice for the IndyCar Classic was adventurous with off-course excursions and spins, but when the checkers waved to end the session, it was Alexander Rossi at the top of the board with a lap of 1 minute, 46.915 seconds.

“All of our figuring out was kind of done yesterday because our warmup was moved to last night instead of Sunday morning,” Rossi said on NBC Sports Gold after the session. “I hope we got enough done and enough understanding, but right now all of the focus is on qualifying.”

He beat Felix Rosenqvist (1:47.054) by .136 seconds. Rosenqvist was part of the highlight reel, after climbing on top of the curb in Turn 9 and eventually falling off into the grass.

Watch the race on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on NBCSN or at NBCSports.com or the NBC Sports app

With no track limit in Turn 19 in Saturday’s practice, several drivers tested that boundary, which contributed to several drivers sweeping wide.

As soon as the cameras in the NBC Sports Gold coverage cut to Graham Rahal, he spun with 26 minutes remaining in the session. He wound up third with a lap of 1:47.440.

Ryan Hunter-Reay (1:47.536) and Josef Newgarden (1:47.537) rounded out the top five.

It was an important session for Colton Herta after experiencing an engine failure in Practice 1 and missing Practice 2 while making the powerplant change. He landed 12th on the chart with a lap of 1:47.810.

Marcus Ericsson crashed with four minutes remaining in the session as Turn 19 finally exacted its revenge.

Next up is qualification on NBCSN at 3 p.m. ET.

Click here for complete results
Click here for combined results from Rounds 1-3

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Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).