Rossi leads rain-affected Gateway practice session

by Jordan Groves

Alexander Rossi has finished as the fastest driver in the opening practice session for this weekend’s 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series Bommarito 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park. The session was heavily delayed and interrupted by rain.

The opening practice session for the final oval race of the 2018 IndyCar season was delayed by almost three hours due to persistent rain hitting St. Louis. With more rain scheduled for later in the evening, it was a mad dash at the start of the session as drivers scrambled out onto the speedway to get as much preparation as they could in the limited time available.

Sadly, once the session got under-way, further disruptions would follow. A full-course yellow would be deployed almost immediately when Marco Andretti came to a halt on the circuit after losing drive. A lengthy stoppage would follow whilst his car was brought back to the pits. Andretti, thankfully, would get some laps under his belt after his team got the #98 Honda running again.

Just over ten minutes of green flag running would be held before another yellow flag came out, this time for a track inspection due to the weather. This inspection would take up a large portion of the session, with one more brief green flag spell being run before the session would end prematurely with just under eight minutes remaining as the rain came down once again.

At the end of the heavily disrupted session, Alexander Rossi would be the driver on the top of the time-sheets. The Andretti Autosport driver will be hoping that this is the start of a weekend where he claims a third consecutive race victory, as he continues to try and hunt down the championship-leader Scott Dixon; who finished the practice session just behind in second place. Two-tenths of a second separated the two main championship protagonists.

Sebastien Bourdais and Tony Kanaan finished the session in third and fourth places respectively. Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Ed Jones completed the top five, making it two Ganassi Honda’s in the top five.

Ryan Hunter-Reay set the sixth fastest time. The American admitted before the session that he was prepared to start helping his team-mate Rossi out on the track if it benefitted him in the championship hunt. It will be interesting to see if those team tactics play a role this weekend.

Spencer Pigot and rookie Zach Veach were seventh and eighth fastest, with both drivers hoping to continue their run of recent good form in the oval races on the calendar.

Ninth would go to James Hinchcliffe, who will be the sole entrant from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports this weekend after the team elected not to run the #6 Honda usually occupied by Robert Wickens, who is still undergoing treatment for injuries to his right arm, his legs and his spine after his huge crash last weekend at Pocono Raceway.

Rounding out the top ten in practice would be Josef Newgarden, with the reigning champion just ahead of his Team Penske stablemates. Will Power was eleventh fastest, with Simon Pagenaud in twelfth place.

Further back, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will once again be hoping for improvements if they want to be competitive in tomorrow’s race. Graham Rahal was fourteenth fastest, with team-mate Takuma Sato way back in twenty-first and last place.

It was announced shortly after the session that qualifying for the race would not be held due to the persistent rain in the area. The grid will be set by championship points, meaning that Scott Dixon will lead the field to the green flag. A full report on the grid order will be published shortly.

The 2018 Bommarito Automotive Group 500 will take place under the floodlights at Gateway tomorrow evening.

2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – Bommarito Automotive Group 500 – Practice one top twelve results:

POSNO.DRIVERNATTEAMTIMESPEED (MPH)
127Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport24.4003184.424
29Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing24.6207182.773
318Sebastien BourdaisFRADale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan24.6339182.675
414Tony KanaanBRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises24.6651182.444
510Ed JonesUAEChip Ganassi Racing24.6759182.364
628Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport24.7807181.593
721Spencer Pigot USAEd Carpenter Racing24.7932181.501
826Zach Veach (R)USAAndretti Autosport24.8065181.404
95James HinchcliffeCANSchmidt Peterson Motorsports24.8716180.929
101Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske24.9405180.429
1112Will PowerAUSTeam Penske25.0010179.993
1222Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske25.0165179.981

Full results from practice can be found by clicking the following link: http://www.imscdn.com/INDYCAR/Documents/5444/2018-08-24/indycar-results-p1.pdf

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