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Acura Team Penske confirms Graham Rahal for Petit Le Mans

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NTT IndyCar Series regular Graham Rahal will return to IMSA competition and race for Acura Team Penske in the Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta next month, the team confirmed in a press release Wednesday.

Rahal will be teamed up with Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura ARX-05 DPi and replace fellow IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi, who will be in Australia that weekend competing in the Bahurst 1000.

“It will be great to team up with Helio and Ricky again as they close out the season and we’ll be working to get the best possible result to help Acura lock up several championships that weekend,” Rahal said in the press release. “I really enjoyed working with Acura and everyone at Team Penske last year and I have missed racing with them this season. But when this opportunity came up for Petit Le Mans, it was an easy decision. I hope I can help them win one of the biggest races of the year.”

Rahal previously raced with Castroneves and Taylor in three endurance events last season, with a best finish of fifth in the Petit Le Mans after leading 128 laps.

Acura Team Penske will be attempting to win both the driver’s and team’s titles at Road Atlanta next month, with the No. 6 ARX-05 of Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron currently sitting first in the point standings, seven points ahead of the Action Express duo of Felipe Nasar and Pipo Derani.

Acura will also be attempting to win the Manufacturers’ Championship, with a current five-point lead over Cadillac in the standings.

The Motul Petit Le Mans takes place on Saturday, October 12, with live race coverage beginning at 12 p.m. ET on NBC.

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WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

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The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.

With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.

Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.

With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.

“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!

“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”

Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.

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