Kirkwood tops opening IndyCar practice in Detroit

Phillip Abbott/Lumen

Kirkwood tops opening IndyCar practice in Detroit

IndyCar

Kirkwood tops opening IndyCar practice in Detroit

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Kyle Kirkwood claimed some early bragging rights for A.J. Foyt Racing in Detroit on Friday by putting the team’s No. 14 Chevy at the top of the timesheets for the opening NTT IndyCar Series practice session.

Quirkily, the result came not long after Kirkwood also topped the GTD class times in the second IMSA WeatherTech Series practice session on a weekend where the 23-year-old is pulling double-duty in his IndyCar and Vasser Sullivan’s Lexus RC F GT3.

“It’s going well so far,” said Kirkwood, whose 1m16.1345s lap came with two minutes remaining on the clock. “The car was quick here for Seb (Bourdais) last year; we brought that same car, maybe with [some] upgrades, and it paid off. We’ll see how the track evolves, because you never know with a street course, but right now we’re confident. It’s nice to see our name on top of the times at least once this weekend. Hopefully we can do it again.”

The top three served as a snapshot of the flurry of silly season developments that have played out since last weekend’s Indianapolis 500. Kirkwood was confirmed to be moving to Andretti Autosport next year to replace Alexander Rossi, who ended Friday’s session third quickest. Rossi is bound for Arrow McLaren SP next year, where he’ll suit up alongside Pato O’Ward – who was sandwiched between Kirkwood and Rossi on the results sheets with a time just 0.02s down on the No. 14.

“It was good,” said the Mexican of the session. “I think the car’s in the window. It feels like last year’s car, [so] I think just tune her up a little bit from here; see where the track goes. It was quite a bit quicker than last year’s P1, so it will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow on the reds, but a solid start so far.”

Simon Pagenaud, who needed to be rescued from the run-off in the opening minutes after the No. 60 Meyer Shank Honda developed a reported fuel pressure problem, rebounded to finish the afternoon fourth-fastest just ahead of newly-minted Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson.

As is typical for Detroit, the red flags got some air time. The first one appeared after just seven minutes when Dalton Kellett’s No. 4 A.J. Foyt Racing Chevrolet stopped on the track with a steering wheel problem, and the resultant stoppage allowed for both his car and Pagenaud’s to be retrieved.

Fifteen minutes later, the session was stopped again after Felix Rosenqvist overcooked it at Turn 1 and put the No. 7 AMSP Chevy into the outside tire barrier. The Swede was hospitalized after a violent crash at the same circuit 12 months ago, but on this occasion only his preparation time was harmed.

“Just got loose on entry,” he said. “I thought I saved it, then it went loose again. Too much speed. It was my mistake; nothing much to blame in that situation. I should have just been a bit more cautious, but it happens.”

UP NEXT: Practice 2, Saturday, 8:30 a.m.

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