Scott Dixon was the only driver to crack the 1m17s barrier in Friday’s first practice for Saturday’s Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit.
Tied for fourth in the point standings and looking for his first victory of 2019, Dixon turned a lap of 1m16.741s in his PNC Chip Ganassi Racing Honda around the 2.35-mile Belle Isle circuit.
The New Zealander was one of several drivers who came within inches of their mornings having very different outcomes, with Alexander Rossi and Graham Rahal joining him in escaping near-misses with the wall. His best time was 0.3s quicker than Will Power’s best of 1:17.088 in the Verizon Team Penske Chevy and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who turned 1m17.106s in the DHL Andretti Autosport Honda.
Josef Newgarden was fourth at 1m17.196s in another Team Penske Chevy while Rahal, who swept both races here in 2017, was fifth best at 1m17.220s.
Rookie Colton Herta, who has four consecutive DNFs after his victory at COTA, was back in form with a lap of 1m17.225s in his Harding Steinbrenner Honda.
Points leader and Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud was 12th-fastest at 1:17.7908.
For all the narrow escapes, the only incident to have any consequence came with 10 minutes remaining when Sebastien Bourdais appeared to outbrake himself at Turn 7 and then stalled in the runoff. That brought out a red flag, and earned the Frenchman a five minute penalty for causing a stoppage. Felix Rosenqvist took a similar trip down the escape road shortly after the session restarted, but was able to continue.
The second practice session is scheduled to begin at 2:50pm E.T.