Jimmie Johnson spins during wild IndyCar practice as drivers adapt in return to Detroit


The NTT IndyCar Series held a wild practice Friday for the Detroit Belle Isle doubleheader as Jimmie Johnson was among multiple drivers who went for a spin, and Will Power vowed revenge on an unnamed driver after turning the fastest lap in the session.

It’s the lone tuneup as IndyCar will hold qualifying sessions for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on each of the next two days ahead of 70-lap races Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (noon). Both races are on NBC.

Power was fastest Friday, turning a 1-minute, 17.2768-second lap around the 14-turn, 2.35-mile street circuit ahead of Sebastien Bourdais (1:17.4291) and Pato O’Ward (1:17.5143).

DETROIT GRAND PRIX: All the details for the weekend’s races

But the Team Penske driver still was miffed after the 75-minute practice, telling NBC Sports reporter Marty Snider he planned to confront someone because “he causes me trouble all the time and just about had enough.”

PRACTICE SPEEDS: Click here for the speeds from Friday

QUALIFYING GROUPS: How they will go out Saturday

In a news conference later, Power said he hadn’t talked to the driver, whom he still refused to identify but said he would be exacting revenge Toowoomba style (referring to his Australian hometown).

“I can’t stand the last few races running back there, getting stuck behind wankers through exchanges that shouldn’t be even out there,” Power said. “I want to get up the front, man.

Will Power turned the fastest lap Friday in practice for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix (Rodney Coleman-Robinson/Detroit Free Press/USA TODAY Sports Images).

“This dude … how many times you want to back up? You eventually have to do a lap time. Don’t worry, I’ll get him. Not on the track. I don’t get people on the track. I’ll get him off the track.”

Power did confirm the offender wasn’t Johnson, who spun 15 minutes into the practice in Turn 3 but was able to avoid damage to his No. 48 Dallara-Honda.

The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, who has been involved in at least one incident in all four race weekends so far in his rookie IndyCar season, was last among 25 cars in the session.

His fastest of 26 laps was 1:22.7353, more than 1.5 seconds behind 24th-ranked Scott McLaughlin, who turned only five laps after smacking the Turn 5 tire barrier with his No. 3 Dallara-Chevrolet.

Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Dallara-Honda was slowest Friday (Matt Fraver/IndyCar).

After three weeks out of the car, Johnson said he had knocked the rust off in a Road America test earlier this week and simply struggled to learn Detroit’s punishing course.

“I’ve done a lot of sim work at home and at (Honda) and nothing got me ready for the experience here,” Johnson said with a laugh. “I was just floored how technical this track is, how rough it is, how little grip there is.

“And I have a huge challenge ahead of myself this weekend. … The spin, I’m just trying to find the limits of the car and my ability. I just got into Turn 3 a little too fast and had a little too much rear brake in the car and did a little lazy spin, so it was one of those things that rookies do, and I’ll keep learning from those mistakes and getting better.”

Johnson has extra help this weekend as Chip Ganassi Racing has brought in racing veteran Scott Pruett as a driving coach.

Pruett won twice in CART IndyCar during a 10-season career that covered 149 starts, and he also made 51 Cup and Xfinity starts in NASCAR. He scored 60 victories in sports cars (including 41 with Ganassi in Grand-Am from 2002-13) before retiring three years ago to become the winemaker for Pruett Vineyards in Auburn, California, near Sacramento.

“This is a new adventure for sure,” Pruett told NBC Sports reporter Kevin Lee. “As many years as I spent with Ganassi, all the stuff I’ve done over the years with teammates and bringing them along and helping as much as I could, it seemed like a good opportunity.

“I got a call from (CGR managing director) Mike Hull, and he said, ‘Hey, Scott, how would you like to get out of the vineyard and all the wine stuff and all the Lexus stuff and come be a part of the program with Jimmie.’ Made a few phone calls, talked to Jimmie, talked to the team, and it just looks like a great opportunity moving forward, so I’ll be working with him on track. I’ll be talking about strategy, I’ll be sitting here calling races. So it’s going to be quite a bit of trying to do whatever I can to help move things forward.”

Johnson wasn’t alone among drivers who flirted with disaster Friday. Romain Grosjean, Rinus VeeKay and James Hinchcliffe also had minor incidents during the session as IndyCar drivers re-acclimated to Detroit after a two-year absence (last year’s races were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic).

Qualifying will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday ahead of Race 1 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale


Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”