Detroit IndyCar: Kirkwood tops first practice for Foyt

Reigning Indy Lights champion and recent Andretti Autosport hire Kyle Kirkwood brought joy to current employers AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet by topping first practice at Belle Isle.

Detroit IndyCar: Kirkwood tops first practice for Foyt
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Before any car had turned a competitive lap, Kirkwood’s teammate Dalton Kellett caused a red flag when his car ground to a halt in Turn 5 with a possible transmission problem. In fact, it was an electrical issue within his steering wheel that was causing the issue.

Kellett is already destined for a six-spot grid penalty for an unapproved engine change, since his Indy 500 race engine – which would normally be used in Detroit and beyond – was damaged in his shunt on Carb Day.

The early runners were inevitably the rookies, since they are granted an extra set of primaries to be used in opening practice. Helio Castroneves in the Meyer Shank Racing-Honda was also an early taker and he easily outpaced them all on the first runs.

Then with 25mins to go, a second red flew. Simon Pagenaud’s Meyer Shank car needed bumpstarting from Turn 7’s runoff, and had an engine issue. That was innocuous compared with Felix Rosenqvist’s shunt at Turn 1, in which the Arrow McLaren SP-Chevy’s tail kicked out on turn in, snagged the outside tire wall with the left-rear and dragged the left-front in as well.

With 16mins to go, Pato O’Ward nailed a lap that finally displaced Castroneves from the top of the lap times – by just 0.0407sec – producing a 1min16.7823sec lap. Then he trimmed tenths off, landing a 1min16.1556.

At that point, his 2023 teammate Alexander Rossi slotted his Andretti Autosport-Honda into second, 0.36sec behind O’Ward, and just ahead of Pagenaud, whose MSR machine had recovered from its earlier issues and now sat just ahead of the sister car of Castroneves.

Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson then also pushed Castroneves down to fifth to become fastest Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda driver.

With just three minutes to go, however, Kyle Kirkwood – who last year won both Indy Lights races at Belle Isle – sent his AJ Foyt Racing-Chevy into top spot, with a 1min16.1345sec lap, an average speed of 111.119mph. Kirkwood is pulling double-duty this weekend, since he is also racing one of Vasser Sullivan Racing's Lexus RC Fs in tomorrow's IMSA race.

That was good enough to keep him top, 0.0211sec ahead of O’Ward, with Rossi, Pagenaud, Ericsson completing the top five.

Colton Herta eventually bumped his way into sixth but over half a second off Kirkwood’s pace-setting time, while Scott McLaughlin was fastest of the Penske-Chevrolet trio, claiming eighth ahead of Romain Grosjean (Andretti) and Scott Dixon (Ganassi).

Cla Driver Team Laps Time Gap Mph
1 United States Kyle Kirkwood United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 20 1'16.134   111.119
2 Mexico Patricio O'Ward United States Arrow McLaren SP 13 1'16.155 0.021 111.088
3 United States Alexander Rossi United States Andretti Autosport 14 1'16.514 0.380 110.567
4 France Simon Pagenaud United States Meyer Shank Racing 13 1'16.617 0.483 110.418
5 Sweden Marcus Ericsson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 14 1'16.657 0.522 110.361
6 United States Colton Herta United States Andretti Autosport 16 1'16.699 0.564 110.301
7 Brazil Helio Castroneves United States Meyer Shank Racing 17 1'16.823 0.688 110.123
8 New Zealand Scott McLaughlin United States Team Penske 19 1'16.955 0.820 109.934
9 France Romain Grosjean United States Andretti Autosport 19 1'17.027 0.892 109.831
10 New Zealand Scott Dixon United States Chip Ganassi Racing 13 1'17.144 1.009 109.664
11 Japan Takuma Sato United States Dale Coyne Racing 17 1'17.218 1.084 109.559
12 Spain Alex Palou United States Chip Ganassi Racing 15 1'17.252 1.117 109.511
13 Canada Devlin DeFrancesco United States Andretti Autosport 22 1'17.308 1.174 109.431
14 Australia Will Power United States Team Penske 20 1'17.483 1.348 109.185
15 Netherlands Rinus van Kalmthout United States Ed Carpenter Racing 11 1'17.494 1.360 109.169
16 United States Josef Newgarden United States Team Penske 19 1'17.556 1.421 109.082
17 United States David Malukas Dale Coyne Racing with HMD 17 1'17.610 1.476 109.006
18 Denmark Christian Lundgaard United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 20 1'17.696 1.562 108.885
19 United States Graham Rahal United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 21 1'17.718 1.584 108.854
20 United Kingdom Jack Harvey United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 18 1'18.221 2.086 108.155
21 United States Conor Daly United States Ed Carpenter Racing 16 1'18.298 2.163 108.048
22 Canada Dalton Kellett United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 14 1'18.407 2.272 107.898
23 United States Santino Ferrucci Juncos Hollinger Racing 17 1'19.317 3.183 106.660
24 Colombia Tatiana Calderon United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 22 1'19.400 3.265 106.549
25 United States Jimmie Johnson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 23 1'19.579 3.444 106.309
26 Sweden Felix Rosenqvist United States Arrow McLaren SP 2 1'21.694 5.560 103.556
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