Power leads the way in Indy GP practice

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Credit: Chris Jones / Courtesy of IndyCar

Team Penske‘s Will Power has set the fastest time in practice for this weekend’s 2020 NTT IndyCar Series GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Australian was the only driver to dip into the 1:09’s during the hour and thirty-minute session, with under two seconds separating the entire field of drivers.

The teams and drivers of the NTT IndyCar Series were once again eager to hit the race track for the one and only practice session ahead of Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix. With just ninety-minutes of preparation before qualifying later today, every lap would count for every one of the twenty-six drivers.

One of the talking points heading into the race weekend was the predicted high temperatures. The first round at Texas Motor Speedway last month had been very hot and it looked as though the drivers were in for a tough time at Indianapolis too. Air temperatures exceeded 90 degrees, with the track temperature even higher than that.

It was not just the temperatures that would be scorching, however. Once the chequered flag flew to draw the session to a close, it would be Team Penske’s Will Power would be on top of the time-sheets. The Australian would be the only driver to lap in the 1:09’s, with a best lap time of 1:09.9487. By comparison, last year’s pole position time for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis was a 1:08.2785, which was set by Felix Rosenqvist after much more preparation and at a much lower track temperature.

As a result of finishing practice as the fastest driver, Power is allowed to pick whether he would like to run in the first or second group in the first round of qualifying later today. Power opted to pick the second session, as the NASCAR XFINITY Series will have run two practice sessions with Goodyear tyres prior to qualifying. It is expected that the opening laps of qualifying for IndyCar will be difficult as the drivers try to clear the Goodyear rubber off of the surface, as it does not tend to gel well with the Firestone IndyCar tyres.

Second place in the session would go to Dale Coyne Racing‘s Santino Ferrucci. The sophomore driver put in some strong laps throughout the session on both tyre compounds and could be one to watch for the rest of the weekend as he looks to improve upon his road course pace over his rookie season last year.

The session was not plain sailing for Ferrucci, however. Ferrucci was involved in an incident that caused one of two red flag periods over the course of practice. Ferrucci has been on a lap when he happened across the #28 car of Ryan Hunter-Reay. The Andretti Autosport driver was warming up his tyres and slowed up as he approached turn seven at the end of the back straight.

As Hunter-Reay turned into the corner to make the apex, however, Ferrucci had already committed to overtaking Hunter-Reay. The pair met in the middle and collided, with Hunter-Reay being sent into a spin and then a subsequent stall. Ferrucci would be penalised for the incident and was docked five minutes of practice time. Hunter-Reay, however, would accept blame for the incident after the session despite having originally blamed Ferrucci.

Credit: Chris Jones / Courtesy of IndyCar

Chip Ganassi Racing‘s fastest driver in practice would be Marcus Ericsson with a 1:10.1648. His team-mates – Scott Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist – would be a matter of tenths slower and would end the session in third and eighth respectively. Arrow McLaren SP‘s Patricio O’Ward took fourth place with an impressive lap, with the aforementioned Hunter-Reay and last year’s Indy GP winner, Simon Pagenaud separating fifth-placed Dixon from eighth-placed Rosenqvist.

Spencer Pigot‘s first laps in the #45 Honda fielded by Citrone / Buhl Autosport with help from Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing would go well. Pigot would end the session faster than both of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s full-time drivers. Pigot would take the ninth-fastest time, whilst Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal were further back in sixteenth and nineteenth respectively.

The top ten would be rounded out by Arrow McLaren SP’s rookie, Oliver Askew. The American led for a majority of the session, but wholesale changes to the time-sheets due to qualifying simulations in the final half an hour would drop the American further back. He would, nevertheless, be the highest-placed rookie in the session. Rinus VeeKay would finish further back in seventeenth for Ed Carpenter Racing, with Dale Coyne Racing’s Alex Palou in twenty-second.

James Hinchcliffe ended the session back in twenty-fourth place in the #29 Andretti Autosport Honda. The Canadian managed to avoid damage right at the end of the session after having an off-track excursion. Twenty-fifth place would go to his fellow-countryman, Dalton Kellett. Dalton will be competing in his first NTT IndyCar Series race tomorrow in the #14 Chevrolet for A.J. Foyt Racing.

Twenty-sixth and last place in practice would go the way of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing‘s Sage Karam. In the team’s first road course race since 2013, the focus of the weekend will undoubtedly be on re-learning the ropes. Karam would complete a best lap-time of 1:11.6165, but he would also be the cause of a red flag when his #24 Chevrolet stopped out on the circuit and stalled.

2020 NTT IndyCar Series – GMR Grand Prix – Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Practice results:

112Will PowerAUSTeam Penske1:09.9487
218Santino FerrucciUSADale Coyne Racing1:10.1242
38Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing1:10.1648
45Patricio O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP1:10.1874
59Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing1:10.2054
628Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport1:10.2846
722Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske1:10.3129
810Felix RosenqvistSWEChip Ganassi Racing1:10.3619
945Spencer PigotUSACitrone / Buhl Autosport with RLLR1:10.3633
107Oliver Askew (R)USAArrow McLaren SP1:10.3641
1188Colton HertaUSAAndretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport1:10.3847
121Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske1:10.3862
1360Jack HarveyGBRMeyer Shank Racing1:10.4550
1498Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Herta Autosport1:10.4859
1527Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport1:10.5204
1630Takuma SatoJAPRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing1:10.5381
1721Rinus VeeKay (R)NETEd Carpenter Racing1:10.6058
1859Max ChiltonGBRCarlin1:10.6114
1915Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing1:10.6854
2020Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing1:10.6935
2126Zach VeachUSAAndretti Autosport1:10.7089
2255Alex Palou (R)ESPDale Coyne Racing1:10.8863
234Charlie KimballUSAA.J. Foyt Racing1:10.9799
2429James HinchcliffeCANAndretti Autosport1:11.2270
2514Dalton Kellett (R)CANA.J. Foyt Racing1:11.4484
2624Sage KaramUSADreyer & Reinbold Racing1:11.6165
(R) – Denotes rookie
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