Ryan Hunter-Reay was comfortably fastest in Friday’s opening practice session for IndyCar’s season finale at Sonoma.
Hunter-Reay stopped the clocks at 1m17.5742s in the No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda, serving as the spearhead of a strong opening salvo from the entire Andretti organization: Marco Andretti finished up fifth fastest, and title contender Alexander Rossi was seventh quickest, putting him just ahead of teammate Zach Veach.
But if Andretti showed strength in numbers, championship leader Scott Dixon served up another reminder of why they might need to this weekend. Although he finished the morning just over 0.25s slower than Hunter-Reay, he was still faster than everyone else.
Will Power, who also remains in mathematical title contention, was just behind the New Zealander, leaving his Team Penske stablemate Simon Pagenaud rounding out the top four.
The fourth driver who remains in the championship conversation was also the only driver not to turn a lap. Josef Newgarden’s No. 1 Penske Chevy remained sidelined throughout the morning with an unspecified mechanical problem, which at least gave Newgarden himself an opportunity to try to recover from a bout of food poisoning.
Elsewhere, Dale Coyne Racing managed a 10-11-12 with its three entries, with Sebastien Bourdais leading rookies Pietro Fittipaldi and Santino Ferrucci, while a mostly incident free-morning was enlivened somewhat by a couple of harmless spins by James Hinchcliffe (who finished 15th fastest) and a trip through the dust by Tony Kanaan (19th fastest).
Colton Herta finished his first IndyCar practice session 16th fastest in Harding’s No. 88, while fellow debutant Pato O’Ward’s best of 1m19.1898s in the No. 8 sister car put him 24th.