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SONOMA, California – After not turning a lap in opening practice for the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma, Josef Newgarden made a quick recovery to top the timesheet in the second session of the day on Friday.

The reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion was fastest of the 25 entries in the 60-minute afternoon practice at Sonoma Raceway with a lap of 1 minute, 17.8156 seconds (110.338 mph) in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

It ranked second best for the day only to the lap of 1:17.5742 (110.681 mph) clocked by Ryan Hunter-Reay in the morning practice. Fuel pressure issues prevented Newgarden from getting on track in the first practice, but he made up for it in the second session.

“We tested here last week, so we were pretty ready to go,” Newgarden said. “It was difficult this afternoon, to be honest. When I first went out, I wasn’t very happy the first run, and then we made really good progress the second run and seemed pretty decent compared to last week.

“It was a pretty decent start. Now we’ve just got to put it together for (qualifying) tomorrow and Sunday on race day.”

Newgarden is one of four drivers with a mathematical possibility remaining to win the 2018 championship. He is fourth in the standings, 87 points behind leader Scott Dixon. Seeking his fifth season title, Dixon was second in the afternoon practice with a lap of 1:17.8992 (110.219 mph) in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Patricio O’Ward, the newly crowned Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion making his Verizon IndyCar Series debut this weekend, was a surprise third in the afternoon practice. The 19-year-old turned a best lap of 1:18.0073 (110.067 mph) in the No. 8 Harding Group Chevrolet.

Will Power, third in the standings and 87 points behind Dixon, was fourth in the second practice with a lap of 1:18.0284 (110.037 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. After going off track twice in the morning practice, James Hinchcliffe was fifth in the afternoon in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda (1:18.2356, 109.745 mph).

Alexander Rossi, 29 points behind Dixon in the standings, was sixth in the afternoon practice. The Andretti Autosport driver’s best lap was 1:18.3884 (109.532 mph) in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda. Teammate Hunter-Reay, after pacing opening practice, was 10th in the second session at 1:18.6064 (109.228 mph) in the No. 28 DHL Honda.

A final practice set for 2 p.m. ET Saturday streams live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com. Verizon P1 Award qualifying starts at 6 p.m. Saturday and streams live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, with a same-day telecast at 8 p.m. on NBCSN.

The bonus point for winning the pole position in knockout qualifying could be vital in determining the Verizon IndyCar Series champion, which is being decided in the season finale for the 13th straight year.

Live race coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

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