Scott Dixon paced the day’s only practice session at 215.995 mph as the NTT IndyCar Series officially began its 2020 season at Texas Motor Speedway.
The five-time series champion ticked off 60 laps and led a Honda 1-2, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver besting Colton Herta (Andretti Autosport) by just .168s.
“Just trying to run through lots of things,” said Dixon. “Lot of cautions. Lot of cautions even in the rookie session. That made it a bit of a time crunch for what we wanted to do for quali(fying) runs and race-running stuff. We didn’t do everything we would have liked on the longer runs. Seems we have a bit of a dash issue, where the ducts pop open; so we need to fix that.
“Car felt pretty good,” Dixon continued. “Hard to tell. Seemed like there was a lot of separation between some guys. It took time for some guys to get up to speed, which was kind of interesting as well.
“A lot to get through and not a lot of time.”
Patricio O’Ward (Arrow McLaren SP), making his first appearance at the 1.5-mile superspeedway, led the way for Chevrolet and ended the 80-minute session in third (-0.187s). He logged a session-best 89 total laps.
Zach Veach had his Andretti Autosport Honda at the top of the charts in the middle part of practice, but slid to fourth by the time the checkered fell, just ahead of teammate Marco Andretti.
Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) came away sixth.
Reigning and two-time series champion (who is also coincidentally the defending race winner) Josef Newgarden finished seventh-quickest at 213.308 mph, just ahead of Team Penske teammate Simon Pageanud in eighth, with Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) and Felix Rosenqvist (Chip Ganassi Racing) completing the remainder of the top 10.
There were two incidents in the 80-minute session, with one additional in the 30-minute practice open only to rookies and first-time drivers to TMS.
Ed Carpenter was among those involved after his ECR Chevrolet got loose off the exit of Turn 4, spun through the tri-oval and came to a halt near the exit of pit road. The car had minimal damage to the rear wing, but enough to warrant a change. He finished 18th.
Near the halfway mark, Ryan Hunter-Reay brushed the outside wall off the exit of Turn 2, which led to the session being stopped once again as his No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda came to a halt on the inside of Turn 3. The 2014 Indianapolis 500 champion ended 21st fastest.
Rookie Rinus VeeKay set the pace in the opening 30-minute session at 215.514 mph. However, after completing 11 laps, he entered Turn 3 and dipped the left side tires just under the white line and grazed the apron. The No. 21 ECR Chevrolet snapped around and hit the left side into the Turn 4 wall, coming to a stop near the entrance to pit road, sustaining substantial damage to the suspension, left side pod and potential, the gearbox. VeeKay was cleared and released from the infield care center.
Apologies from the RACER.com team that we’re unable to bring you our usual in-depth photographic coverage from today’s NTT IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. Due to on-site personnel limits and protocols implemented by INDYCAR for the evolving COVID-19 situation, our photographic partner Motorsport Images has been precluded from taking part in this event. We are working to rectify this situation and to ensure that we can deliver the level of coverage you’ve come to expect and enjoy during the remaining races of the 2020 IndyCar season. Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy our alternative visual take on events in The Lone Star State. As always, we appreciate your continued support of RACER.com.