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Power fastest in COTA test, McLaughlin third

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Will Power was the fastest driver in Wednesday’s IndyCar test session at Circuit of the Americas, while rookie Scott McLaughlin finished third in only his second series test.

Power’s best lap time of 1 minute, 46.7603 seconds was just over a half-second off of his pole time in last year’s race at the facility.

Andretti Aurosport’s Alexander Rossi was second-fastest, 0.2396 seconds behind Power, while McLaughlin was third-fastest in the No. 2  Team Penske Chevrolet.

McLaughlin, the two-time defending Australian Supercars champion, is scheduled to make his IndyCar debut in May’s GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. He finished just ahead of teammate and defending series champion Josef Newgarden.

“It’s an altogether new feeling,” McLaughlin said. “I’m a race driver. I like going fast, so this is a lot faster. I’m having fun. A lot of grip and it’s tough to drive.

“You turn that pit speed (limiter) off and there’s a lot of power and a lot of braking. I’m just really privileged to drive this car. Roger (Penske) and Team Penske have given me a go. I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as I can with a smile on my face.”

Colton Herta was fifth-fastest in the No. 88 Honda, while Simon Pagenaud ended the day sixth-fastest in the No. 22 Chevrolet.

Arrow McLaren SP rookie Oliver Askew ended the day seventh fastest, while Scott Dixon, Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward rounded out the top ten.

With inclement weather hampering Tuesday’s on-track action, Wednesday’s schedule was expanded to allow for more testing. Cars were on track from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time, with a half-hour lunch break at noon.

The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season begins Sunday, March 15 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. NBCSN will have live, flag-to-flag coverage of the race, which is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

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Donny Schatz edges Kyle Larson for Outlaws victory at Lake Ozark

Trent Gower/World of Outlaws
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Donny Schatz made a last-lap pass on Kyle Larson, snatching a World of Outlaws victory Saturday night at Lake Ozark Speedway.

Larson started on the pole, led 30 of 35 laps and was in control until a caution set up a two-lap shootout to the finish before a limited crowd in Eldon, Missouri.

Schatz and Larson traded the lead twice over the final two laps, but the 10-time champion emerged with his first victory since the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series returned in mid-May from a two-month layoff because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

‘THEY’VE STUCK BEHIND ME’: Kyle Larson comments on future, Outlaws plans

“Man, I don’t know what to say, but Kyle’s a damn good racer,” Schatz, who led five laps, told DirtVision after his 296th Outlaws win. “I kind of had to go where he didn’t. We got that green-white-checkered, and I decided I was going to send it. He decided the same thing.

Donny Schatz celebrates at Lake Ozark Speedway after his second Outlaws Sprint Car victory of the season (Trent Gower).

“I’m glad to get the win. It feels like it’s been forever. I’ve been out here 24 years, and every night is a learning experience still.”

Larson finished second in his fifth start since he began racing with the Outlaws after being suspended from NASCAR.

“Obviously, it would have been nice to get the win,” Larson said on DirtVision. “I figured Donny would rip the middle. The restarts before, he’d almost clear me in (turns) 3 and 4. I should have known to protect and block his momentum. I felt I exited 2 OK. We don’t have spotters or rearview mirrors so you can’t see how close he is or really hear it when the pace is so slow.

“I just didn’t do a good enough job to run a smarter final couple of laps.”

Brad Sweet, Larson’s brother in law, finished third, with Shane Stewart and David Gravel rounding out the top five.

Larson rebounded from a 10th in Friday’s feature at Lake Ozark Speedway, continuing his streak of top-10 finishes in all five of his starts since the Outlaws’ return.

“We got our car a lot better from last night, so that was a plus,” said Larson, who finished second and first in back-to-back nights last week at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at Pevely, Missouri. “These guys are really tough. To be on the podium with Donny and Brad, they’ve won lots of big races and championships, it’s nice. I just didn’t do what I needed to do that last restart.”

Larson nearly had a flawless night Saturday, turning a 11.426-second lap to capture his second pole position this season and won the pole dash to start first in the feature.

Larson, who was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing from his NASCAR Cup Series ride last month for using a racial slur in an iRacing event, said last week that he plans to run several more NOS Energy Sprint Car Series races this year.

Larson remains indefinitely suspended by NASCAR but was approved to race by the Outlaws after completing sensitivity training.