Will Power paces lone practice for GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis

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Will Power was off to a strong start Friday in his bid for a fourth victory at the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Power turned a lap of 1 minute, 9.9487 seconds (125.526 mph) in his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet to lead the lone practice session for Saturday’s race (noon ET, NBC).

“It’s hot, man,” the Team Penske driver, who won the Indy GP from the pole in 2015, ’17 and ’18, told Marty Snider on the NBC Sports Gold broadcast. “It’s going to be a tough race in that respect. The cooling’s not bad. You’re feeling it out there. Started the session pretty far off, honestly, and I was able to get the car right in the window. Some good things to think about before qualifying here, and I hopefully have a shot at the pole.”

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Qualifying will happen at 4:30 p.m. ET today (NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold).

Santino Ferrucci was second (1 minute, 10.1242 seconds) in the practice session, followed by Marcus Ericsson, Pato O’Ward and Scott Dixon. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud, Felix Rosenqvist, Spencer Pigot and Oliver Askew.

Click here for full results from Friday’s IndyCar practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“Our car is really well connected,” Ferrucci told Dave Burns on the NBC Sports Gold broadcast. “Proud of our team and really looking forward to qualifying later today.”

Said Ericsson via Chip Ganassi Racing PR: “It was a good practice session. I think again, like in Texas, all three of us at Chip Ganassi Racing had really strong cars. I was feeling comfortable straight away on the blacks out there. We did some tweaking and some smaller stuff on the setup.

“I think we found some small bits and pieces and then on the reds we felt strong again and competitive. I had a good feeling in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda car. Overall, it was a very positive session. I think we are looking good for this afternoon and for tomorrow for the GMR Grand Prix.”

There was one notable incident during the session as Hunter-Reay and Ferrucci made contact in Turn 7 when Ferrucci moved underneath Hunter-Reay’s Dallara-Honda, which just had pulled on track.

Neither car sustained significant damage. Ferrucci was given a 5-minute penalty for avoidable contact, but Hunter-Reay seemed to take responsibility for the crash, radioing his team that he hadn’t seen Ferrucci in his mirrors.

“There’s a rule in IndyCar you can’t impede someone on a hot lap,” Ferrucci told Burns. “I was six tenths down, and you can see him coming down the straight; he’s clearly on an out lap and warming his tires. Normally you check your mirrors. I thought he was going to wide in the corner, and when he didn’t, I tried to stop as fast as I could, I just ended up clipping him.

“I’d say that’s a warning because it’s practice. Because you lose your lap in qualifying because of that.”

Sage Karam also received a 5-minute penalty for stopping on course in Turn 12.

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.