O'Ward sets the pace at Laguna Seca IndyCar test


O'Ward sets the pace at Laguna Seca IndyCar test


O'Ward sets the pace at Laguna Seca IndyCar test


Four NTT IndyCar Series teams were met with idyllic weather Monday morning at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and it remained clear and blue with temperatures in the 60s as Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward led the eight drivers in attendance.

The Mexican led a Dale Coyne Racing twosome of Ed Jones and Romain Grosjean, with their times standing despite stopping with an hour left in the afternoon session. O’Ward, already fastest, slightly improved his time with 30 minutes to run.

It was a day free of on-track dramas, barring a few harmless trips onto the gravel and sand. The only setback of any size came in the morning, when it emerged that the delivery of 55-gallon drums of E85 fuel meant to power the cars from AMSP, Dale Coyne Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing and Meyer Shank Racing had failed to arrive.

While time was lost as entrants tried to figure out if and when the fuel would appear, a nice moment of teamwork followed as inventories were taken to determine how many five-gallon jugs of E85 had been brought to the test by the four teams. Soon, a total number was determined, then divided by eight, and sharing was done to give each car 38 laps of potential running, which allowed all drivers to venture out and conduct some of their test plans.

Shortly before the lunch break, the most popular vehicle at Laguna Seca – the truck carrying drums of E85 – found the paddock and offloaded its cargo, which ensured that rationing laps was no longer required.

Of note, AMSP’s Juan Pablo Montoya used most of the morning to gather aero mapping data for the team. A large, Formula 1-style matrix of pressure taps mounted behind the front tires stayed on the car as he ran laps at a steady-state speed. Pitting to receive front wing adjustments for mapping, the Colombian repeated the process a number of times before they were removed. Altogether Montoya’s day was consumed by testing significant changes, rather than focusing on optimizing lap times at Laguna Seca.

Aero mapping was the order of the day for Juan Pablo Montoya. Levitt/Lumen

Days after his first IndyCar test at the Barber circuit in Alabama, Grosjean was a much happier man, and it showed in the speed he displayed; the No. 51 Honda was fastest overall at one point in the early afternoon, and his teammate confirmed the progress made by the DCR camp by edging the Frenchman by a few hundredths.

Like Grosjean, ECR’s Rinus VeeKay was also among the fastest earlier in the day, and at MSR, Harvey and Castroneves, who made his debut for team, took big swings at various test items, which kept the two cars on pit lane for a decent portion of the day as changes were made.

(All times unofficial)

  1. Pato O’Ward, No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevy, 71.29s
  2. Ed Jones, No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan Honda, 71.53s
  3. Romain Grosjean, No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing Honda, 71.57s
  4. Felix Rosenqvist, No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevy, 71.60s
  5. Jack Harvey, No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Honda, 71.69s
  6. Rinus VeeKay, No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy, 71.80s
  7. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 66 Arrow McLaren SP Chevy, 72.22s
  8. Helio Castroneves, No. 06 Meyer Shank Racing Chevy, 72.81s