IndyCar Notes: Kanaan posts fastest lap in opening practice session

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AVONDALE – Tony Kanaan turned in the fastest time of Friday’s opening practice session for the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park.

Kanaan, a member of the Chip Ganassi Racing team and the 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion, covered the 2.74-mile course in 1 minute, 18.8753 seconds for an average speed of 125.058 mph.

Kanaan’s teammate, Scott Dixon, had the third-fastest lap at 1:18.9662. They were 1-2 for much of the practice session before reigning Verizon IndyCar series champion Will Power jumped ahead of Dixon into second with a lap of 1:18.9292.

Sebastian Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top five in the opening practice session.

The Indy cars are back on the track for another session Friday afternoon. A third session is scheduled for early Saturday afternoon prior to qualifying for Sunday’s race at 4:15 Saturday.

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IndyCar officials announced mandated structural upgrades to both the Honda and Chevrolet body work components in advance of this weekend’s event.

“We applaud both Honda and Chevrolet for their efforts to implement these changes,” IndyCar president of competition and operations Derrick Walker said in a release. “With a quick turnaround from St. Petersburg, our partners were very diligent in making these enhancements. We … expect additional improvements in the future.”

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While the air temperature at the start of Friday’s first practice session was 80 degrees, racing engineers had the track temperatures at 100 degrees.

Drivers noted that the speeds Friday were slower than in earlier testing sessions at the facility because of the warmer temperatures.

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Friday’s on-track activity was almost exclusively practice, with the Mazda MX-5 Cup qualifying set for later in the afternoon.

Saturday’s schedule includes five races – the Mazda MX5 Cup at 11:30 a.m., the Prototype Lites at 1:35 p.m., the Porsche GT3 Cup (2:25 p.m.), the USF2000 (3:30 p.m.) and the day’s final event, the Pro Mazda Race at 5:50 p.m.

All five of those series also have races on Sunday.

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NOTES: Verizon is awarding $10,000 to the leader in Saturday’s qualifying, who will earn the pole for Sunday’s race … The green flag is scheduled to drop on Sunday at 2:37 p.m. CDT. NBCSN will televise nationally both Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race; it will also be broadcast on satellite radio (Sirius 213, XM 209) … Teams have another set of rain tires available to them because of this weekend’s weather forecast.

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Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny has been involved in college athletics since the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane; since then, he has remained involved in college sports. He works in television production of many college sporting events and served briefly as managing editor of New Orleans Metro Sports Magazine. Lenny also served for 11 years on the management…

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