Power paces lone IndyCar practice in Detroit

Jake Galstad/Motorsport Images

Power paces lone IndyCar practice in Detroit

IndyCar

Power paces lone IndyCar practice in Detroit

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In ambient temperatures nearing 90 degrees, on a scorching track close to 120F, and amid high humidity, the only practice session of the weekend for the NTT IndyCar Series got under way on Friday at 5 p.m. ET and once it was over, Team Penske’s Will Power was on top.

The driver of the No. 12 Chevy took P1 on the last lap (1m17.2768s) on Firestone’s faster red-banded tires, displacing A.J. Foyt Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais, whose No. 14 Chevy came a close second (+0.1523s) in the 75-minute outing. Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward made it a Chevy 1-2-3 with the No. 5 entry (+0.02375s), and behind them, a group of three Hondas led by Scott Dixon in the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing machine (0.3410s), Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi in the No. 27 (+0.3819s) and teammate Colton Herta in the No. 26 (+0.5353s) rounded out the top six.

“It’s very hot out there,” Power said. “The car’s in a really good window. Happy to get a lap there in the end.”

The session lasted 15 minutes before the first incidents caused a red flag. Jimmie Johnson’s harmless spin was the least of the concerns in the No. 48 CGR Honda as Penske’s Scott McLaughlin, with five laps of experience amassed, crashed nose-first into the tire barrier and broke his right-front suspension. Done for the day, he’d end up P24 to Johnson’s P25.

As teams got back to business after a 10-minute clean up, the focus was on race setups until the last 12 minutes or so when the sturdier Firestone primary tires were traded for reds. With lap times plummeting, impressive shows of car control were on display as most drivers caught and managed numerous slides on their fastest laps. A handful of others—before and during their qualifying simulations—were immensely fortunate to escape damage as a litany of half-spins were recorded throughout the session.

RESULTS

TAKEAWAYS 

Fastest Driver: Will Power, 1m17.2768s

Slowest Driver: Jimmie Johnson, 1m22.7353s

Most Laps Turned: 32, Rinus VeeKay

Notable Mentions:

  • The top three were outliers within their teams. Power was P1 with the next closest Team Penske teammate being Josef Newgarden in P8. Bourdais was P2 with Dalton Kellett in P23, and O’Ward was P3 with Felix Rosenqvist in P14.
  • Andretti Autosport was solid throughout the session with Rossi (P5), Herta (P6), Ryan Hunter-Reay (P10) and James Hinchcliffe (P11) all well inside the top half of the field.
  • Similar note for Ganassi with Dixon (P4) and Marcus Ericsson (P7), but championship leader Alex Palou was well adrift (P15).
  • Disappointing start to the event for Indy 500 winners Meyer Shank Racing with Jack Harvey (P21).
  • Ed Carpenter Racing had diverging results in the session with Rinus VeeKay (P9) and Conor Daly (P17) at opposite ends.
  • Romain Grosjean did a commendable job while getting to know Belle Isle (P13) while his Dale Coyne Racing teammate Ed Jones (P20) searched for more speed.
  • Penske Simon Pagenaud was well adrift from his teammates (P19) and will need to make a statement on Saturday if he wants to hold onto third in the championship.

Up Next: Race 1 Qualifying, 11 a.m. ET, on Peacock

AS IT HAPPENED 

The field performed their out laps and returned to sit for about five minutes or so until Romain Grosjean and Max Chilton went out.

Jimmie Johnson completed a 180-degree spin on the exit of Turn 3, and on the same lap Scott McLaughlin nosed his car into Turn 5, and together, they triggered a red flag as the session wound down to 60 minutes left on the clock. Johnson was re-fired and sent on his way while McLaughlin climbed from the car and watched as the safety crew took a few minutes to extricate the car and tow it back to the paddock with the right-front suspension dangling from the chassis. Visibly frustrated, the New Zealander was done for the day after setting the fastest lap of the session at the time of his crash (1m21.1254s).

Nearly 10 minutes was lost clearing the cars, and with 50 minutes to go, practice resumed with Grosjean taking over P1 (1m20.8938s). By the time 10 minutes had gone by, Alexander Rossi was the new owner of P1 (1m18.4130s), followed by teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay (1m18.4314s), Takuma Sato (1m18.5983s), Sebastien Bourdais (1m18.6185s), and Will Power (1m18.8362s).

Hunter-Reay improved to P1 (1m18.3745s) moments later, and Pato O’Ward improved to P4 (1m18.4341s). O’Ward’s next lap, with 37 minutes left, was properly sideways and good enough for P1 (1m18.1155s).

Getting down to 25 minutes left in the session, O’Ward remained P1, Colton Herta was up to P2 (1m18.1834s), Hunter-Reay was P3, Rossi was P4, Power was P5, Sato was P6, and Scott Dixon was P7 (1m18.6017s). Grosjean was also fortunate to do a 180-degree spin in Turn 3 and drive away on his own.

Winding down to 15 minutes on the clock, Rinus VeeKay jumped to P2 (1m18.1459s). Dixon improved to P3 and Bourdais followed in P4. Herta claimed P1 on Firestone’s primary tires (1m18.0746s) as most of the field were switching to the faster red tires to perform qualifying simulation runs.

Power, also on primaries, briefly went to P1 before Rossi, on reds, shot to P1 (1m17.6587s). With seven minutes to go, Bourdais took P1 (1m17.4291s) as O’Ward improved to P2 (1m17.5143s). Dixon was up to P3 in the final minutes as VeeKay flew over the outside curb and grass at Turn 1.

With under one minute to go, Hinchcliffe was the latest and last to execute 180-degree spins without making contact, this time, between Turns 12 and 13. Power goes P1 on the last lap to stead Bourdais’ thunder.

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