Few expected A.J. Foyt Racing rookie Matheus Leist to be the fastest driver in opening practice at St. Petersburg, and as the Brazilian said after the 45-minute session, he was also surprised.
“It was very good, but no, it wasn’t something I was thinking about,” Leist told RACER. “The first couple of laps were very difficult for me, but I have an extra set of tires because I’m a rookie, so it was pretty good. It’s a great start to the weekend. It’s going to be a challenge for me with my first race in IndyCar, but it was fun and we ended up in P1.”
The Indy Lights graduate found a happy balance with the No. 4 Chevy, but did acknowledge a few difficulties with the lower downforce available with IndyCar’s new bodywork.
“The track is good, and I thought it was going to be more difficult; it was not as slippery as I thought it would be,” he said. “The braking in Turn 1 was difficult because the car was moving around, but everything was alright. And it wasn’t easy flat though the last corners, so you have to feel your way through there, but I was surprised how normal the track felt.”
The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to the track for its second practice session at 3:10pm ET.