Laguna Seca IndyCar: Newgarden sets blistering pace in FP1

Josef Newgarden kept the pressure on his title rivals by topping opening practice at Laguna Seca by four-tenths of a second, ahead of ‘traditional’ Laguna Seca star Colton Herta.

Laguna Seca IndyCar: Newgarden sets blistering pace in FP1
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Jimmie Johnson of Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda was the first driver to set a representative lap with a 74.4011sec, and he was soon followed onto the track by Simona De Silvestro making her fourth start for Paretta Autosport-Chevrolet. She got down to 0.15sec away before pitting for the first time

Dale Coyne Racing with HMD-Honda’s David Malukas, taking advantage of the extra set of Firestone primaries for rookies, moved to the top of the times with a 72.9245sec lap of the 2.238-mile road course, half a second faster than Devlin DeFrancesco of Andretti Autosport-Honda… until DeFrancesco slipped ahead eventually getting down to 1min12.7385sec on his first run, an average of 110.764mph.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Christian Lundgaard, who is trying to cling onto or preferably extend his five-point lead over Malukas in the Rookie of the Year battle, edged ahead of him by 0.0765sec with his first run. Lundgaard tested at Laguna Seca for the first time two weeks ago, and admitted it was tricky, and he was off teammate Graham Rahal’s pace, but this start was impressive.

On his first flying lap, championship leader Will Power locked up his left tire at the top of the Corkscrew and took a sort-of Alex Zanardi line, causing that lap to be invalidated but he stayed out of the gravel and continued.

In his final race weekend with Andretti Autosport, Alexander Rossi’s fifth lap sent him up to second, but then Josef Newgarden topped the times with a 1min12.3512sec, before Power shaded him by a 0.0015sec, an average of 111.359mph. Three minutes later, their teammate beat them to top spot by 0.13sec and then Alex Palou, who topped the test here, moved up to second for Ganassi.

Palou’s time in P2 didn’t last long, as Arrow McLaren SP-Chevy’s Pato O’Ward delivered a time just 0.031sec slower than McLaughlin.

Colton Herta, who has taken pole and won in IndyCar’s last two visits here, grabbed third, just before the red flag flew for Jimmie Johnson crashing at Turn 6. The #48 Ganassi car twitched under braking just when he needed to be turning in and he plowed off the course. The car spun around and he hit the tire wall with his rear wing.

The session restarted with 20mins to go, and on Firestone’s new alternate compound, Simon Pagenaud delivered a 1min11.9821sec lap, an average of 111.928mph. His first challenger also on alternates was David Malukas, 0.0597sec adrift.

O’Ward’s first flyer on reds fell 0.0512sec short of Pagenaud, while McLaughlin dropped his wheels off on the drive to Turn 4 on Laps 1 and 3 of his ‘red’ run, but in between got a lap 0.1sec from the lead.

Power and Rossi moved up to second and third, although when Power tried to go faster, he clipped the sand exiting Turn 3. Callum Ilott of Juncos-Hollinger Racing, Rossi and Herta all cycle through P1 until Newgarden got it all perfect on his second lap to claim top spot by over four-tenths. His 71.4103sec was an average of 112.824mph.

Romain Grosjean got up to third, splitting Herta and Rossi, but no one was going to threaten Newgarden’s top spot on this day.

Ilott remained a highly impressive top five, just ahead of Pagenaud, Power and O’Ward.

De Silvestro ended the session 2.6441sec off the top spot, but within one second of her Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet teammates Rinus VeeKay and Conor Daly.

Cla Driver Team Laps Time Gap Mph
1 United States Josef Newgarden United States Team Penske 18 1'11.4103   112.824
2 United States Colton Herta United States Andretti Autosport 16 1'11.8266 0.4163 112.170
3 France Romain Grosjean United States Andretti Autosport 18 1'11.8697 0.4594 112.103
4 United States Alexander Rossi United States Andretti Autosport 20 1'11.9034 0.4931 112.050
5 United Kingdom Callum Ilott United States Juncos Hollinger Racing 17 1'11.9490 0.5387 111.979
6 France Simon Pagenaud United States Meyer Shank Racing 19 1'11.9821 0.5718 111.928
7 Australia Will Power United States Team Penske 21 1'11.9858 0.5755 111.922
8 Mexico Patricio O'Ward United States Arrow McLaren SP 16 1'12.0333 0.6230 111.848
9 United States David Malukas United States Dale Coyne Racing 22 1'12.0418 0.6315 111.835
10 Sweden Marcus Ericsson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 15 1'12.0803 0.6700 111.775
11 New Zealand Scott McLaughlin United States Team Penske 15 1'12.0877 0.6774 111.764
12 Sweden Felix Rosenqvist United States Arrow McLaren SP 14 1'12.1036 0.6933 111.739
13 Canada Devlin DeFrancesco United States Andretti Autosport 26 1'12.2135 0.8032 111.569
14 Spain Alex Palou United States Chip Ganassi Racing 19 1'12.3102 0.8999 111.420
15 Denmark Christian Lundgaard United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 20 1'12.3193 0.9090 111.406
16 Brazil Helio Castroneves United States Meyer Shank Racing 22 1'12.3840 0.9737 111.306
17 New Zealand Scott Dixon United States Chip Ganassi Racing 16 1'12.3911 0.9808 111.295
18 Japan Takuma Sato United States Dale Coyne Racing 19 1'12.4401 1.0298 111.220
19 United Kingdom Jack Harvey United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 15 1'12.9774 1.5671 110.401
20 United States Graham Rahal United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 16 1'13.0487 1.6384 110.294
21 Netherlands Rinus van Kalmthout United States Ed Carpenter Racing 19 1'13.1004 1.6901 110.216
22 United States Conor Daly United States Ed Carpenter Racing 19 1'13.1450 1.7347 110.148
23 United States Kyle Kirkwood United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 28 1'13.2761 1.8658 109.951
24 Canada Dalton Kellett United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 27 1'13.6331 2.2228 109.418
25 United States Jimmie Johnson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 20 1'13.9251 2.5148 108.986
26 Switzerland Simona de Silvestro Paretta Autosport 27 1'14.0544 2.6441 108.796

 

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