Championship leader Josef Newgarden set the pace in the opening practice session of the season finale at Sonoma Raceway as Team Penske locked out the top three places.
Newgarden has a three-point advantage in the championship ahead of Scott Dixon ahead of this weekend’s double-points finale, and he set the pace with a best time of 1:16.3950s ahead of team-mates Will Power and Simon Pagenaud.
All four Penske drivers remain in contention for the championship, as does Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dixon, but while Alexander Rossi and Graham Rahal both remain mathematically in with a shout, they would need a miracle result for either to take the crown.
Rossi kept up his momentum from his race-winning performance from Watkins Glen International to set the fourth fastest time for Andretti Herta Autosport ahead of Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing, while Dixon was sixth, 0.2247 seconds off Newgarden’s best.
Ryan Hunter-Reay was seventh for Andretti Autosport ahead of Castroneves, who could only get to within 0.3075 seconds of Newgarden, while Tony Kanaan of Chip Ganassi Racing and Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport completed the top ten.
Rahal was eleventh fastest for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, with the American having the rarity of a team-mate this weekend, with Canadian Zachery Cleman DeMelo making his series debut, although the teenager brought up the rear of the twenty-two car field in his first practice session.
Sonoma Raceway Free Practice 1 Result
|1||2||Josef Newgarden||USA||Team Penske||1:16.3950|
|2||12||Will Power||AUS||Team Penske||1:16.4322|
|3||1||Simon Pagenaud||FRA||Team Penske||1:16.5047|
|4||98||Alexander Rossi||USA||Andretti Herta Autosport||1:16.5720|
|5||18||Sebastien Bourdais||FRA||Dale Coyne Racing||1:16.6060|
|6||9||Scott Dixon||NZL||Chip Ganassi Racing||1:16.6197|
|7||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||USA||Andretti Autosport||1:16.6711|
|8||3||Helio Castroneves||BRZ||Team Penske||1:16.7025|
|9||10||Tony Kanaan||BRZ||Chip Ganassi Racing||1:16.7484|
|10||27||Marco Andretti||USA||Andretti Autosport||1:16.7843|
|11||15||Graham Rahal||USA||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||1:16.9072|
|12||26||Takuma Sato||JAP||Andretti Autosport||1:16.9676|
|13||5||James Hinchcliffe||CAN||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||1:17.1210|
|14||21||JR Hildebrand||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||1:17.3287|
|15||19||Ed Jones||UAE||Dale Coyne Racing||1:17.3960|
|16||20||Spencer Pigot||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||1:17.4254|
|17||83||Charlie Kimball||USA||Chip Ganassi Racing||1:17.4384|
|18||8||Max Chilton||GBR||Chip Ganassi Racing||1:17.4736|
|19||14||Carlos Munoz||COL||AJ Foyt Enterprises||1:17.5451|
|20||7||Jack Harvey||GBR||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||1:17.6168|
|21||4||Conor Daly||USA||AJ Foyt Enterprises||1:17.6566|
|22||13||Zachery Claman DeMelo||CAN||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||1:17.9506|