Sato tops Phoenix afternoon session

Sato tops Phoenix afternoon session

IndyCar

Sato tops Phoenix afternoon session

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Takuma Sato set the pace in a low-key afternoon session in the first day of Verizon IndyCar Series testing at Phoenix.

Sato, who this year is making his return to Rahal Letterman Lanigan, completed 44 laps with a best speed of 187.022mph to claim the top spot. Penske’s Simon Pagenaud was best of the rest at 187.611mph, with Foyt’s Tony Kanaan rounding out the top three at 186.112mph.

But with the warm, sunny conditions carrying little relevance to those that the teams will encounter when they return here to race, most opted to spend the afternoon saving tires.

“We didn’t run much,” said reigning champion Josef Newgarden, who finished the session in 20th. “We wanted to wait for the evening running. I think we ran 20, 25 laps to understand where the car is at.”

It was a common refrain: cars lapped alone, with the expectation that the evening session will bring the first real opportunity to run in packs.

Even so, some still found an opportunity to shine. Matheus Leist, who topped yesterday’s rookie session, finished the afternoon fourth-fastest, continuing an encouraging start for A.J. Foyt Racing, with Sebastien Bourdais fifth fastest, and second of the Hondas, in the No.18 Dale Coyne Racing entry.

The session passed without incident; the only interruptions being occasional yellows for track inspections.

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