Warmth and a sizable crowd welcomed NTT IndyCar Series teams and drivers during Friday’s lone practice session on the streets of St. Petersburg. By the end of the 45-minute outing, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden was fastest of the 24 drivers in attendance, posting a lap of 1m00.8029s in the No. 2 Chevy.
Behind Newgarden, the top six was filled out with teammate Will Power in the No. 12 Chevy (+0.007s), Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta in the No. 26 Honda (+0.025s), Andretti teammate Alexander Rossi in the No. 27 Honda (+0.062s), Penske’s Simon Pagenaud in the No. 22 Chevy (+0.096s), and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon in the No. 9 Honda (+0.112s).
Among the other drivers of interest, Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, polesitter at Barber, was eighth and Barber winner Alex Palou from CGR was 20th, directly behind Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing’s Romain Grosjean in 19th.
The session got off to an inauspicious start when the cars returned to the pits following their installation laps, only to be held for 15 minutes while the series figured out why its timing and scoring system was displaying the results from last weekend’s race at Barber Motorsports Park.
Once the problem was resolved, drivers were released and rookies Grosjean and Jimmie Johnson emerged with their extra set of Firestone tires. Dalton Kellett was the other driver to turn laps while the rest of the field waited for more rubber to be applied to the track surface.
It wasn’t long before Power went to the top of the order, where he held P1 until Newgarden moved ahead with 10 minutes left on the clock. The final minutes brought no changes to the front of the field after A.J. Foyt Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais did the same routine as Grosjean, but stalled while trying to pull away with three minutes left and brought a halt to the session while he was refired.
Fastest Driver: Josef Newgarden, 1m00.8029s
Slowest Driver: Jimmie Johnson, 1m03.1317s
Most Laps Turned: 26, Romain Grosjean, Jimmie Johnson
Notable Mentions: Team Penske had all four cars inside the top eight. Counter to Penske, only one of Ganassi’s four entries were inside the top 10. AMSP’s Felix Rosenqvist sat idle as an electrical issue limited his No. 7 Chevy to 14 laps, but when he got going, the Swede out-paced teammate O’Ward.
UP NEXT: FP2, 9:45 a.m. ET, on Peacock