Perfect weather greeted 27 NTT IndyCar Series drivers for Friday’s lone practice session at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and when the 45-minute outing was over, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden was fastest with a lap of 1m11.7125s in the No. 2 Chevy.
“It felt good to start, pretty comfortable here,” Newgarden said.
He was chased by Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta, who was close in the No. 26 Honda (+0.0802s), and in third, championship leader Alex Palou was farther off in the No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda (+0.2625s).
Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan’s Ed Jones continued his form from last weekend in Portland with fourth in the No. 18 Honda (+0.3041s), Andretti’s Alexander Rossi was fifth in the No. 27 Honda (+0.3500s), and Rahal letterman Lanigan’s Oliver Askew rounded out the top six in the No. 45 Honda (+0.4391s).
The only stoppage of the session came with 18 minutes remaining when Meyer Shank Racing’s Helio Castroneves went off course and got stuck in the No. 06 Honda while trying to reverse out of a gravel trap. Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin got tripped up in the Corkscrew as the clock wound down to four seconds remaining, but the series threw the checkered flag to end the session.
Red flag in practice 1 is out for this incident with @H3lio into the tire barriers.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) September 17, 2021
Elsewhere, title contender Scott Dixon was 11th in his No. 9 CGR Honda (+0.7290s) after spending most of the session on pit lane, and fellow championship rival Pato O’Ward was distant in 14th with the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevy (+0.7857s).
Before the action got under way, a bizarre incident opened the proceedings as Dale Coyne Racing’s Romain Grosjean — while lapping and filming with Dale Coyne Racing teammate Ed Jones in a Honda Civic Type R pace car — crashed on entry to pit lane, which set off the air bags, cracked the windshield, and caused significant damage to the car. Both drivers were uninjured, but the Honda was deposited in a garage and covered in a black tarp for the remainder of the event.
UP NEXT: 1:45 p.m. ET Saturday, Practice 2.