Pato O’Ward, who was Rookie of the Year a week ago at the Indianapolis 500, continued his oval-track ascension by posting the fastest lap in Friday’s sole practice session for this weekend’s doubleheader at World Wide Technology Raceway.
O’Ward, sixth at IMS, hustled his Arrow McLaren SP Chevy around the 1.25-mile track at 181.532 mph in the only laps prior to Saturday’s qualifying and opening race of the Bommarito Auto Group 500.
Will Power, the winner here in 2018, posted the second-fastest lap of 180.961 mph in his Team Penske Chevy, and Scott Dixon was third-quickest at 180.745 mph in the Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Conor Daly, back driving for Carlin Racing, showed the way early in the 60-minute session and wound up fourth at 180.581 mph.
Last week’s Indy winner Takuma Sato was fifth at 180.434 mph in the RLL Honda, and Jack Harvey turned 180.246 mph in the Meyer/Shank Honda. Rookie Alex Palou continued to impress at seventh-fastest with a lap of 180.182 mph in Dale Coyne’s Honda, followed by Marcus Ericsson at 180.157 in the CGR Honda and another first-year man, Rinus Veekay, clocked in at 180.104 mph for ECR’s SONAX Chevy.
Santino Ferrucci, coming off an excellent fourth at Indianapolis, missed much of the session with mechanical problems and Ryan Hunter-Reay only turned a handful of laps as his Andretti Honda went through some major changes on pit lane.
Qualifying is at noon ET Saturday, with the first lap determining starting positions for the opening 250-miler and the second lap good for Sunday’s starting spot.