Hunter-Reay and Rossi fastest on Friday at Road America

by Jordan Groves

Andretti Autosport team-mates, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi, set the fastest times in the opening two practice sessions for this weekend’s 2019 NTT IndyCar Series REV Group Grand Prix at Road America. Hunter-Reay topped the opening session of the day, with Rossi taking over with a faster lap-time in the second session.

Clear conditions greeted the drivers for their first of two Friday practice sessions. The session was a productive one too, with only one brief stoppage during the session after Jack Harvey‘s Meyer Shank Racing Honda stopped out on the circuit.

By the end of the forty-five minute session, it was Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay who had the fastest time, with the American setting a 1:43.7556 to take the top spot.

Despite the track not being at its fastest state at this early point of the weekend, the lap-time by Hunter-Reay was only half a second slower than the pole position time for last year’s race set by Josef Newgarden. Expect the times to get even quicker as the weekend goes on. Hunter-Reay will be hoping to stay on top in his bid to go one spot better than he finished last year to take a win at Road America.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing‘s Takuma Sato was the second-fastest driver in the session, with the Japanese driver setting a lap-time that was just under a tenth of a second slower than Hunter-Reay’s best. Takuma enters the weekend hoping to right the wrongs of the last race at Texas Motor Speedway, where he started from pole position but wrote himself out of contention after hitting a member of his pit crew during a pit-stop.

Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Scott Dixon set the third-fastest time of the session and was the last of the leading trio of drivers who managed to lap in the 1:43 range. Team Penske‘s Will Power and championship-leading team-mate, Josef Newgarden, completed the top five in the session, with Newgarden entering the weekend with high hopes of extending his lead in the standings having won this race twelve months ago.

Newgarden’s closest title rival, Alexander Rossi, set the sixth-fastest time of the opening session. Last month’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud, was seventh fastest, with Ed Carpenter Racing‘s Spencer Pigot and Arrow Schmidt Peterson‘s James Hinchcliffe just behind in eighth and ninth respectively. Marco Andretti rounded out the top ten in the session.

Further back, after some doubts as to whether he would be racing this weekend, Patricio O’Ward was the fastest rookie in the session, setting the thirteenth fastest-time for Carlin. Fellow rookies, Felix Rosenqvist and Colton Herta, were a little further behind in fifteenth and sixteenth respectively. Herta had a close call with Andretti’s Zach Veach during the session after Herta had been slowing behind Rossi. Veach almost made contact with the rear of Herta’s car numerous times before managing to find a way by the Harding Steinbrenner Racing driver.

The most laps of the session were completed by Arrow Schmidt Peterson’s rookie, Marcus Ericsson, who completed fifteen laps during the session and would set the twentieth-fastest time, just behind fellow rookie Santino Ferrucci in nineteenth place.

By contrast, the least amount of laps completed in the session were by Carlin’s returning driver, Max Chilton, who bookended the session in twenty-third and last place after completing only four laps.

Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

2019 NTT IndyCar Series – REV Group Grand Prix – Practice one top twelve results:

POSNO.DRIVERNATTEAMTIME
128Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport1:43.7556
230Takuma SatoJAPRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing1:43.8244
39Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing1:43.9842
412Will PowerAUSTeam Penske1:44.0394
52Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske1:44.0706
627Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport1:44.1839
722Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske1:44.3979
821Spencer PigotUSAEd Carpenter Racing1:44.4024
95James HinchcliffeCANArrow Schmidt Peterson1:44.4186
1098Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Herta1:44.5863
1118Sebastien BourdaisFRADale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan1:44.6216
1214Tony KanaanBRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises1:44.7400

Full results of practice are available by clicking the following link: http://www.imscdn.com/indycar_media/documents/2019-06-21/06-21-19%20RA%20practice%201.pdf

Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

The second practice session of the day saw the usual improvement of lap-times up and down the field due to the track surface getting rubbered in further and further. What’s more, lap-times would tumble as the second session drew to a close as the drivers ventured out onto the track on the faster red tyre compound to do some qualifying simulations.

Harding Steinbrenner’s Colton Herta had led much of the session until the qualifying simulations began, with Felix Rosenqvist and then Will Power going faster than Herta to take the top spot away from the rookie.

However, as the session entered it’s final five minutes, Andretti’s Alexander Rossi would head onto the track for a qualifying simulation. Despite the lap looked especially on-edge, with Rossi running well over the exit kerbs in the final sector, Alexander would take the fastest lap of the session and of the entire first day of running.

Rossi lap-time would be a 1:43.1206, a time that would beat Josef Newgarden’s pole position time from a year ago by just under a tenth of a second. What is potentially ominous for the field, however, is that Rossi was not happy with the handling of his car despite setting the fastest time. If he and the team can get the #27 Honda totally to his liking, there could be more pace in the tank.

Penske duo Will Power and Josef Newgarden were nigh on inseparable for the second session in a row. The pair would set the second and third fastest times respectively, with both separated by just seven-hundredths of a second.

The previous fastest driver in the session, Colton Herta, would improve his lap-time late in the session but would have to settle for fourth place, with fellow rookie Felix Rosenqvist rounding out the top five in fifth place. Rosenqvist’s tally of sixteen laps would be the most completed by any driver in the session.

Graham Rahal set the sixth-fastest time in his #15 Honda, complete with its throwback livery for this weekend that pays homage to his father, Bobby Rahal, and the twenty-five years of Honda’s involvement in IndyCar. Just behind Rahal would be Hunter-Reay, the fastest man from the first session, who was annoyed with the handling of his #28 Honda during the session. He was quoted on the radio describing his car as “a nightmare.”

James Hinchcliffe remained just inside the top ten for the second session, slightly improving to take the eighth fastest time. Carlin’s Patricio O’Ward was just behind in ninth place, with Marco Andretti rounding out the top ten once again in tenth place.

Credit: Chris Jones / Courtesy of IndyCar

2019 NTT IndyCar Series – REV Group Grand Prix – Practice one top twelve results:

POSNO.DRIVERNATTEAMTIME
127Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport1:43.1206
212Will PowerAUSTeam Penske1:43.4089
32Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske1:43.4758
488Colton Herta (R)USAHarding Steinbrenner Racing1:43.7415
510Felix Rosenqvist (R)SWEChip Ganassi Racing1:43.7464
615Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing1:43.9772
728Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport1:44.0136
85James HinchcliffeUSAArrow Schmidt Peterson1:44.0423
931Patricio O'Ward (R)MEXCarlin1:44.0578
1098Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Herta1:44.0731
119Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing1:44.1659
1226Zach VeachUSAAndretti Autosport1:44.2018

Full results of practice are available by clicking the following link: http://www.imscdn.com/INDYCAR/Documents/5588/2019-06-21/indycar-results-p2.pdf

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