With two minutes left in the 2h30m opening test session at the Thermal Club, Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood was all smiles as his No. 27 Honda sat atop the other 26 NTT IndyCar Series drivers. But his new teammate Colton Herta wasn’t going to let the Andretti IndyCar newcomer lead the four-car squad at the onset of Spring Training as his No. 26 Honda was clocked at 1m39.9303s lap, making the Californian the only driver to dip below the 1m40s threshold.
Kirkwood wasn’t far behind, though (+0.0933s), and they were joined by Meyer Shank Racing’s Simon Pagenaud in the No. 60 Honda (+0.1875s) to give the Japanese brand a 1-2-3 in the outing. Fastest from the Chevy camp was Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, whose No. 21 car was more than a quarter-second behind Herta (+0.2610). Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden was fifth in the No. 2 Chevy (+0.2759s) and teammate Will Power completed the top six in his No. 12 Chevy (+0.4224s).
Barring a few harmless spins and stalls around the 2.9-mile road course that led to nine minutes of red flags, the session was mostly uninterrupted. Under blue skies and a not-too-warm 70-degree setting, most of the front-running IndyCar teams sat and waited for quite some time before embarking on test runs. Herta was a prime example, completing just 19 laps within the 2h30m timeframe.
UP NEXT: Session 2, 1:30-4:30 p.m. PT, with the last 30 minutes reserved for pit stop practice.