Scott Dixon has finished as the fastest driver in the one and only practice session ahead of this evening’s 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season-opener, the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. Dixon posted a fastest average lap speed of 215.995-mph to take the top spot in a session where drivers had to quickly get back up to speed after several months out of the cockpit.
Having not driven IndyCar’s in anger since pre-season testing in February and early March, drivers were quick to venture out onto the Texas Motor Speedway to get acclimatised. The first forty minutes of the two-hour session was dedicated to installing laps and rookie running, with the rest of the field joining in for the remaining one hour and twenty minutes.
Sadly, for one driver making his IndyCar debut, his practice session would last a lot less time than they would have wanted. After completing early running and slowly building up his lap speed to 200-mph, Ed Carpenter Racing‘s Dutch rookie, Rinus VeeKay, would lose control of his #21 Chevrolet at turn two after accidentally running on the apron. The car would spin into the outside wall, causing heavy damage to the rear-end of his car. He would only complete eleven laps in the session and will, as a result, have very little information to go off of heading into qualifying and the race later tonight.
Things didn’t go exactly according to plan for VeeKay’s team boss and team-mate. Ed Carpenter would also lose control of his car, the #20 Chevrolet, on the exit of turn four. Thankfully, Ed was able to keep the car largely out of the wall, with only a light touch as his car came to a halt causing a double rear puncture. He was able to re-join the race track after being towed back to the pits.
The two Ed Carpenter drivers wouldn’t be the only ones to have issues during the session. Many of the drivers soon discovered that most of the track was very slippery off of the racing line. The slipperiest surfaces looked to be in the middle of the turns, especially where the NASCAR Cup Series had put down traction compound onto the track back in November. Unless the track grips up later in the evening with more running, the drivers are likely going to need to run much lower on the track, perhaps making overtaking even tricker.
One driver caught out by the lack of grip on the high side of the banking was Andretti Autosport‘s Ryan Hunter-Reay. After his two of his team-mates – Zach Veach and Alexander Rossi – experienced close calls with the wall on the exit of turn two, Hunter-Reay would not be so lucky. The American would understeer into the outside wall, with the contact damaging his rear toe-link which would then send him back into the wall mid-way down the back-straight and again into turn three. His car would eventually come to a halt on the apron at turn three, where it would ultimately be towed back to the pits for repairs prior to qualifying.
As the session wore on, the lap-times got faster and faster. By the end of the session, Scott Dixon had almost cracked the 216-mph marker with his session-topping lap of 215.995. He would be the only driver in the 215-mph region, with second-placed Colton Herta setting a fastest average speed of 214.491-mph.
A late improvement by Patricio O’Ward would see the Mexican get Arrow McLaren SP into third-place in the session. O’Ward would complete the most laps of anybody, with eighty-nine tours of the speedway. Despite not being classified as a rookie, this race will be O’Ward’s first oval appearance in the NTT IndyCar Series after having failed to qualify for last year’s Indianapolis 500.
Zach Veach and Marco Andretti spent a fair portion of the session in the first and second positions. They would end practice in fourth and fifth respectively and would be the last two drivers to lap in the 214-mph range. Takuma Sato would round out the top six for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Team Penske would utilize their three-car setup well in practice. Each driver spent the start of practice running different car setups to try and make the most of the limited time they had available and to see which direction would work best. Reigning champion and defending Texas Motor Speedway winner, Josef Newgarden, would take the seventh fastest-time ahead of Simon Pagenaud, with the third and final Penske of Will Power ending the session in twelfth.
Graham Rahal and Felix Rosenqvist would complete the top ten in the session, with the top ten being covered by just under four-tenths of a second. Carlin‘s Charlie Kimball would finish just outside of the top ten in eleventh place.
Further back, the fastest of the three rookies would be Dale Coyne Racing‘s Alex Palou. With only one day of testing at Texas earlier this year under his belt, the Spanish driver was hoping to have a productive session to get up to speed for what will be his first IndyCar race, his first oval race and his first-night race. Alex completed eighty-two laps with a fastest average lap speed of 212.071-mph; a decent start to the day’s running.
Palou’s fellow rookie, Oliver Askew, would be just behind him in fifteenth place for McLaren. The third and final rookie, VeeKay, would be classified down in twenty-third after his aforementioned accident early on in the session. Only Meyer Shank Racing‘s Jack Harvey would be behind the Dutchman, with the British driver preparing for his first oval race outside of the Indianapolis 500.
Qualifying and the two-hundred lap Genesys 300 race will take place later this evening.
2020 NTT IndyCar Series – Genesys 300 – Texas Motor Speedway – Practice results:
|1||9||Scott Dixon||NZL||Chip Ganassi Racing||24.0006||215.995|
|2||88||Colton Herta||USA||Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport||24.1689||214.491|
|3||5||Patricio O’Ward||MEX||Arrow McLaren SP||24.1875||214.326|
|4||26||Zach Veach||USA||Andretti Autosport||24.1906||214.298|
|5||98||Marco Andretti||USA||Andretti Herta Autosport||24.1945||214.264|
|6||30||Takuma Sato||JAP||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||24.2437||213.829|
|7||1||Josef Newgarden||USA||Team Penske||24.3029||213.308|
|8||22||Simon Pagenaud||FRA||Team Penske||24.3128||213.221|
|9||15||Graham Rahal||USA||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||24.3179||213.176|
|10||10||Felix Rosenqvist||SWE||Chip Ganassi Racing||24.3974||212.482|
|11||4||Charlie Kimball||USA||A.J. Foyt Racing||24.4184||212.299|
|12||12||Will Power||AUS||Team Penske||24.4281||212.215|
|13||8||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Chip Ganassi Racing||24.4408||212.104|
|14||55||Alex Palou (R)||ESP||Dale Coyne Racing||24.4446||212.071|
|15||7||Oliver Askew (R)||USA||Arrow McLaren SP||24.4842||211.728|
|16||27||Alexander Rossi||USA||Andretti Autosport||24.4853||211.719|
|17||29||James Hinchcliffe||CAN||Andretti Autosport||24.4979||211.610|
|18||20||Ed Carpenter||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||24.5508||211.154|
|19||14||Tony Kanaan||BRA||A.J. Foyt Racing||24.5521||211.143|
|21||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||USA||Andretti Autosport||24.6094||210.651|
|22||18||Santino Ferrucci||USA||Dale Coyne Racing||24.6134||210.617|
|23||21||Rinus VeeKay (R)||NET||Ed Carpenter Racing||25.0564||206.893|
|24||60||Jack Harvey||GBR||Meyer Shank Racing||25.2599||205.226|