Barber IndyCar: Palou puts Ganassi on top in FP1

The opening session of the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season saw Alex Palou lay down a new track record at Barber Motorsports Park to top the times in practice for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

Barber IndyCar: Palou puts Ganassi on top in FP1

Series sophomore Palou’s #10 Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda turned a 66.4721sec lap, and Andretti Autosport-Honda’s Colton Herta fell just 0.0176sec short of displacing him, with Team Penske-Chevrolet’s Josef Newgarden – a three-time Barber winner – just 0.006sec further back.

Palou commented: "It feels amazing to be back racing and I love this place. It’s only FP1 but it’s the best way to start, so very happy.”

The top four were all under the qualifying lap record, this being the first official session to be held on the track that was resurfaced in the winter of 2019/’20.

Ganassi's six-time and reigning champion Scott Dixon should have been P1, but his best time was deleted as a red flag had flown when his erstwhile teammate Felix Rosenqvist had an embarrassingly slow shunt in his Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet.

With just under 10mins to go, the Swede understeered into the barrier on pitlane as he attempted to negotiate the downhill lefthander while applying his pitspeed limiter. He would still finish the session classified 10th, albeit five places behind teammate Pato O’Ward.

Fastest rookie was Penske’s Scott McLaughlin in eighth, who was just 0.015sec adrift of two-time Barber winner Will Power, but ahead of the third Ganassi car of Marcus Ericsson.

Romain Grosjean was around half a second slower than his Dale Coyne Racing-Honda teammate Ed Jones, finishing up the session in 21st.

NASCAR legend but IndyCar rookie Jimmie Johnson, along with Graham Rahal, turned the most laps of the session – 22 – and although he wound up last, he was within 1.5sec of his pacesetting teammate Palou, and only 0.1855sec slower than the next slowest, Max Chilton of Carlin-Chevrolet.

Second practice begins at 1.40pm local (Central) time.

P

No

Name

FTime

Diff

Gap

FL

Laps

FSpeed

Engine

Team

1

10

Alex Palou

1:06.4721

0.000

0.000

10

18

124.564

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

2

26

Colton Herta

1:06.4897

0.0176

0.0176

6

16

124.531

Honda

Andretti Autosport

3

2

Josef Newgarden

1:06.4957

0.0236

0.0060

6

14

124.519

Chevy

Team Penske

4

9

Scott Dixon

1:06.5524

0.0803

0.0567

6

12

124.413

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

5

5

Pato O'Ward

1:06.6281

0.1560

0.0757

6

11

124.272

Chevy

Arrow McLaren SP

6

27

Alexander Rossi

1:06.6307

0.1586

0.0026

10

14

124.267

Honda

Andretti Autosport

7

12

Will Power

1:06.7341

0.2620

0.1034

6

16

124.074

Chevy

Team Penske

8

3

Scott McLaughlin

1:06.7499

0.2778

0.0158

11

17

124.045

Chevy

Team Penske

9

8

Marcus Ericsson

1:06.7999

0.3278

0.0500

8

18

123.952

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

10

7

Felix Rosenqvist

1:06.8435

0.3714

0.0436

10

10

123.871

Chevy

Arrow McLaren SP

11

20

Conor Daly

1:06.8699

0.3978

0.0264

5

17

123.823

Chevy

Ed Carpenter Racing

12

28

Ryan Hunter-Reay

1:06.8777

0.4056

0.0078

10

14

123.808

Honda

Andretti Autosport

13

18

Ed Jones

1:07.0575

0.5854

0.1798

11

16

123.476

Honda

Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan

14

29

James Hinchcliffe

1:07.1072

0.6351

0.0497

9

15

123.385

Honda

Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport

15

14

Sebastien Bourdais

1:07.2310

0.7589

0.1238

9

12

123.157

Chevy

AJ Foyt Enterprises

16

22

Simon Pagenaud

1:07.2324

0.7603

0.0014

9

18

123.155

Chevy

Team Penske

17

60

Jack Harvey

1:07.2485

0.7764

0.0161

11

17

123.125

Honda

Meyer Shank Racing

18

15

Graham Rahal

1:07.3100

0.8379

0.0615

11

22

123.013

Honda

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

19

21

Rinus VeeKay

1:07.3157

0.8436

0.0057

7

17

123.003

Chevy

Ed Carpenter Racing

20

30

Takuma Sato

1:07.5349

1.0628

0.2192

6

18

122.603

Honda

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

21

51

Romain Grosjean

1:07.5534

1.0813

0.0185

7

19

122.570

Honda

Dale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware Racing

22

4

Dalton Kellett

1:07.7276

1.2555

0.1742

10

17

122.254

Chevy

AJ Foyt Enterprises

23

59

Max Chilton

1:07.7654

1.2933

0.0378

6

16

122.186

Chevy

Carlin

24

48

Jimmie Johnson

1:07.9509

1.4788

0.1855

16

22

121.853

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

 

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Event Birmingham
Author David Malsher-Lopez
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