Josef Newgarden set the ball rolling for this weekend’s NTT IndyCar Series round at Mid-Ohio by topping the times in Friday’s sole practice session.
Newgarden, who scored both his and Team Penske’s first win of the season at this track last year, made his first visit to the top of the timing screens late in his first run, and repeated the trick after switching to Firestone’s softer reds in the closing minutes.
His 1m07.0549s put him 0.2s clear of Ganassi’s Alex Palou, who in turn just managed to squeeze ahead of AMSP’s Felix Rosenqvist. Current points leader Marcus Ericsson trailed just behind his fellow Swede, leaving Colton Herta to narrowly edge Pato O’Ward out of the top five.
True to form, the track served up some challenges: Callum Ilott and Romain Grosjean both got away with early bobbles, but Takuma Sato was less successful at catching the No. 51 DCR Honda when he spun at the entry to Turn 1 and went sailing into the gravel trap. Fortunately, the car didn’t dig in and pitch itself into a roll, but a red flag was still needed to allow for it to be retrieved.
Grosjean had another big moment later on when he lost the rear and looped the No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda into the grass, but he was able to get back onto the track without assistance and peeled straight into pitlane.
The hardest part of the track strikes again. This time for @RGrosjean.
The green flag stays out in practice 1.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) July 1, 2022
The standout of the session was rookie David Malukas, who led the first half an hour in the Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Honda — with a lap set right at the start of his run on his first set of tires — and then popped back up to the top again later on after switching to the reds with 20 minutes to go. His 1m07.5361s was still good enough for eighth-fastest when the checker waved.
Meanwhile, Paretta Autosport returns at Mid-Ohio for the second of its scheduled races this season; Simona De Silvestro finishing the session sandwiched between Christian Lundgaard and Tatiana Calderon with the 25th-fastest lap of the afternoon.
UP NEXT: Practice 2, 9:30am ET Saturday