Phoenix IndyCar: Kimball tops night practice for Carlin
Charlie Kimball led his ex-teammate Scott Dixon in final practice before tomorrow’s night Desert Diamond Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway.
Kimball, who switched from Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda after seven seasons to join new IndyCar team Carlin-Chevrolet for 2018, clocked a 179.797mph lap on his eighth of 52 tours of the 1.022-mile oval.
Dixon was just 0.0908sec slower – although that equates to 0.794mph – while another ex-Ganassi driver, Tony Kanaan, was third for AJ Foyt Racing-Chevy.
Alexander Rossi was again fastest Andretti Autosport-Honda driver, while Gabby Chaves gave Harding Racing-Chevy a nice boost with P5.
Josef Newgarden was fastest of the Team Penske-Chevys, but teammates Simon Pagenaud and Will Power – despite being only 12th and 16th on the speed charts – were arguably even more impressive.
The 2016 and 2014 champions were able to turn 172mph laps more than 40 laps into their runs, despite tire life being a big question mark this year, given the removal of 1200lbs of downforce for this track. Pagenaud looked particularly assertive in traffic, while Power was the hardest-working driver of the evening, turning 99 laps.
Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti were seventh and eighth fastest, with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing duo Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato completed the Top 10.
Foyt’s rookie Matheus Leist pulled off some alarmingly late passes but kept it on track, while Spencer Pigot had the only wall-scrape of the evening after being wrong-footed by a pass from Dixon.
Fastest trap speed was 192.372mph, shared by Kanaan and Rossi.
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