Herta Fastest in Practice at St. Pete

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Photo Credit: Chris Jones / Courtesy of IndyCar

As the final weekend of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season gets under way at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Colton Herta would set the pace in the sole practice session of the weekend.

Herta found his Andretti Harding Steinbrenner No.88 machine at the top of the timing and scoring sheets throughout the session, and swapped the top spot back and forth with teammate James Hinchcliffe during the last ten minutes of the session. Herta’s lap time of 1:01.130 would be enough to best his Canadian compatriot who would finish second with a lap time of 1:01.227.

Alex Palou would finish third in the session, with the Spanish rookie having yet another strong session for Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh. He would finish two tenths slower than the leading Andretti cars, however, with a time of 1:01.431.

Takuma Sato continued his busy Saturday with a fourth place result in the session, after it was announced that he will be staying with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for 2021. The “Wild Thing” found himself leading the session in the early stages, but finished with a lap time of 1:01.482.

Sebastien Bourdais would finish in fifth place A.J. Foyt Enterprises in the city that his family calls home. He also found himself at the top of the session at one point, finishing with a lap of 1:01.515.

Alexander Rossi‘s sixth place finish makes him the third Andretti Autosport car in the top ten, as well as the last Honda-powered car, setting a lap of 1:01.578.

Rinus VeeKay, who is expected to be named Rookie of the Year after this weekend, continues to look strong with a seventh place finish in this practice session. He turned a 1:01.612 lap in his Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.

For those wondering where the championship contenders ended up, here’s Josef Newgarden, the fastest Team Penske driver in the field in eighth. He languished very far down the field for most of the session, but managed to put together a lap time of 1:01.620. Points leader Scott Dixon found himself in sixteenth place with a fastest lap of 1.01.845.

The rest of the top ten would be anchored by Team Penske cars, as Will Power would finish ninth, and in his very first practice session, Scott McLaughlin finished tenth. Despite a late spin in turn 10 bringing out a red flag, along with Felix Rosenqvist in turn 14, McLaughlin finished with a lap time of 1:01.677. Power, ahead of him, would finish with a lap of 1:01.627.

Another red flag would be seen with less than five minutes left in the session as Oliver Askew went off track, as well as McLaughlin. Askew was unable to keep the car out of the tyre barriers in turn 13. On the bright side for Askew, however, he did find himself in the top ten for most of the day, as high as second place with four minutes left in the session.

Qualifying for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will take place at 15:05 EST / 20:05 GMT.

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Practice Top Ten

188Colton HertaUSAAndretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport1:01.130
226James HinchcliffeCANAndretti Autosport1:01.227
355Alex Palou (R)ESPDale Coyne Racing w/ Team Goh1:01.431
430Takuma SatoJPNRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing1:01.482
514Sebastien BourdaisFRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises1:01.51
627Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport1:01.578
721Rinus VeeKay (R)NEDEd Carpenter Racing1:01.612
81Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske1:01.620
912Will PowerAUSTeam Penske1:01.627
103Scott McLaughlin (R)NZLTeam Penske1:01.677
(R) – Rookie

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