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Practice report

St. Pete IndyCar: McLaughlin tops FP2, shunts for Grosjean, Palou

Scott McLaughlin lapped the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg course in under one minute to top second practice for the IndyCar season-opener, but there were sizable shunts for Romain Grosjean and Alex Palou.

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Impressively, Kyle Kirkwood, Indy Lights champion now at AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet, was the first driver of the weekend to duck under the 61sec barrier but he was soon joined and eclipsed by Will Power of Team Penske-Chevrolet, then Simon Pagenaud newly installed at Meyer Shank Racing-Honda after seven years at Penske, and then Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet hit the top.

But it was Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport-Honda who hit form, his eighth lap putting him second, his ninth lap putting him on top with a 60.3063sec. That was 0.16sec faster than anyone else.

The session had been largely incident-free to this point – a harmless Turn 1 spin for Jimmie Johnson in the Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda, a trip down the Turn 10 escape road for yesterday’s pacesetter Romain Grosjean in the #28 Andretti Autosport-Honda.

But with just under half an hour to go of the 45-minute session, Jack Harvey turned in a tad too early at Turn 9, clipped the inside wall which spat the #45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan-Honda hard into the outside wall on corner exit. That inevitably brought out the red flag.

 

The session resumed with 20mins to go, but the red emerged again two minutes later. Grosjean arrived fast at Turn 10 as a clump of cars was backing up and dawdling, trying to give each other some clear space for a flying lap. Grosjean drove hard into the #51 Dale Coyne Racing-Honda that he used to drive, now occupied by Takuma Sato and jacked it high in the air. Both cars were too damaged to continue.

 

At the same time, Johnson spun at Turn 8, lightly kissed concrete with the sidewalls of his tires, and stalled.

Action resumed with little more than 10mins to go, and this was the drivers’ chance to put on the softer, red-sidewalled Firestone alternates.

It was Penske’s sophomore Scott McLaughlin who punched in the first sub-one-minute lap, with a 59.7342sec effort.

Then reigning champion Alex Palou, who had just turned his fastest lap of the session and moved up to seventh, had a nasty-looking shunt at Turn 9. Like Harvey, he had clipped the inside wall, but in this instance, the Ganassi car was sent nearly head-on into the outside wall.

 

The cars were released again, but no one improved their times, so McLaughlin remained top ahead of last year’s St. Pete winner Colton Herta of Andretti Autosport.

Pagenaud was third ahead of Rossi and Power, with Rinus VeeKay making it five different teams in the top six.

Rookie Kirkwood adapted well to the Firestone reds, knocking half a second off his black-tire time and finishing the session eighth ahead of the Arrow McLaren SP-Chevys.

Qualifying begins at 12.30pm local time, with several expected key players such as Grosjean and Harvey uncertain how their cars handle on the softer tires.

Cla Driver Team Laps Time Gap Mph
1 New Zealand Scott McLaughlin United States Team Penske 21 59.734   108.481
2 United States Colton Herta United States Andretti Autosport 23 1'00.085 0.350 107.847
3 France Simon Pagenaud United States Meyer Shank Racing 17 1'00.085 0.351 107.847
4 United States Alexander Rossi United States Andretti Autosport 19 1'00.107 0.373 107.807
5 Australia Will Power United States Team Penske 20 1'00.160 0.425 107.713
6 Netherlands Rinus van Kalmthout United States Ed Carpenter Racing 14 1'00.210 0.476 107.623
7 Spain Alex Palou United States Chip Ganassi Racing 22 1'00.236 0.502 107.576
8 United States Kyle Kirkwood United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 18 1'00.240 0.506 107.569
9 Mexico Patricio O'Ward United States Arrow McLaren SP 19 1'00.333 0.599 107.403
10 Sweden Felix Rosenqvist United States Arrow McLaren SP 18 1'00.376 0.642 107.327
11 United States Conor Daly United States Ed Carpenter Racing 20 1'00.382 0.647 107.317
12 Brazil Helio Castroneves United States Meyer Shank Racing 14 1'00.386 0.651 107.310
13 Sweden Marcus Ericsson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 20 1'00.391 0.656 107.301
14 United States Josef Newgarden United States Team Penske 22 1'00.391 0.657 107.299
15 Canada Devlin DeFrancesco United States Andretti Autosport 20 1'00.439 0.704 107.216
16 Denmark Christian Lundgaard United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 20 1'00.458 0.724 107.181
17 United States David Malukas Dale Coyne Racing with HMD 17 1'00.487 0.753 107.130
18 United Kingdom Callum Ilott Juncos Hollinger Racing 16 1'00.603 0.869 106.924
19 France Romain Grosjean United States Andretti Autosport 12 1'00.754 1.020 106.659
20 New Zealand Scott Dixon United States Chip Ganassi Racing 17 1'00.797 1.062 106.584
21 Canada Dalton Kellett United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 18 1'00.820 1.086 106.543
22 United States Graham Rahal United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 19 1'01.328 1.594 105.660
23 Japan Takuma Sato United States Dale Coyne Racing 12 1'01.359 1.624 105.608
24 United Kingdom Jack Harvey United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 10 1'01.365 1.630 105.598
25 United States Jimmie Johnson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 14 1'01.884 2.150 104.711
26 Colombia Tatiana Calderon United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 19 1'02.132 2.398 104.293

 

 

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