Power walks one IndyCar workout in Detroit

In ambient temperatures near 90 degrees, on a scorching track near 120 ° F, and in the midst of high humidity, the weekend’s only practice session for the NTT IndyCar Series began Friday at 5 p.m. ET and when completed, the team’s willpower Penske was at its peak.

The No.12 Chevy rider took P1 on the last lap (1m17.2768s) on the faster Firestone red striped tires, replacing Sébastien Bourdais of AJ Foyt Racing, whose No.14 Chevy finished second ( + 0.1523s) 75 minute exit. Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren SP made it a Chevy 1-2-3 with entry # 5 (+ 0.02375s), and behind them a group of three Honda led by Scott Dixon in machine no No.9 Chip Ganassi Racing (0.3410s), Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport in No.27 (+ 0.3819s) and his teammate Colton Herta in No.26 (+ 0.5353s) complete the top six.

“It’s very hot out there,” Power said. “The car is in a very good window. Glad to check it out at the end.

The session lasted 15 minutes before the first incidents caused a red flag. Jimmie Johnson’s harmless spin was the least of the # 48 Honda CGR’s concerns as Penske’s Scott McLaughlin, with five laps of experience accumulated, crashed his nose first into the tire barrier and smashed his front right suspension. Done for the day, he would finish Johnson’s P24 to P25.

As the teams resumed operations after a 10-minute clean-up, the focus was on race setups until around the last 12 minutes, when the sturdier Firestone primary tires were traded in for reds. With the lap times plummeting, impressive displays of car control were presented as most drivers caught and handled many slips on their fastest laps. A handful of others – before and during their qualifying simulations – had an immense chance to escape damage as a litany of U-turns were recorded throughout the session.

RESULTS

TO TAKE AWAY

Fastest pilot: Will Power, 1m17,2768s

Slowest driver: Jimmie Johnson, 1m22.7353s

Most laps completed: 32, Rinus VeeKay

Notable mentions:

  • The top three were outliers within their teams. Power was P1 with Team Penske’s next closest teammate being Josef Newgarden in P8. Bourdais was P2 with Dalton Kellett in P23, and O’Ward was P3 with Felix Rosenqvist in P14.
  • Andretti Autosport was solid throughout the session with Rossi (P5), Herta (P6), Ryan Hunter-Reay (P10) and James Hinchcliffe (P11) all well placed in the first half of the field.
  • Same note for Ganassi with Dixon (P4) and Marcus Ericsson (P7), but championship leader Alex Palou was adrift (P15).
  • Disappointing start to the race for the Indy 500 winners Meyer Shank Racing with Jack Harvey (P21).
  • Ed Carpenter Racing had divergent results in the session with Rinus VeeKay (P9) and Conor Daly (P17) at opposite ends.
  • Romain Grosjean did a commendable job discovering Belle Isle (P13) while his Dale Coyne Racing teammate Ed Jones (P20) was looking for more speed.
  • Penske Simon Pagenaud was far from his teammates (P19) and will have to make a statement on Saturday if he wants to retain third place in the championship.

Next Stop: Race 1 Qualifying, 11 a.m. ET, on Peacock

AS IT HAPPENED

The peloton completed their laps and came back to sit for about five minutes until Romain Grosjean and Max Chilton came out.

Jimmie Johnson did a 180 degree spin out of Turn 3 and in the same lap Scott McLaughlin swung his car into Turn 5 and together they raised a red flag as the session ended at 60 minutes. Johnson was fired again and sent on his way out as McLaughlin got out of the car and watched the security team take a few minutes to free the car and tow it to the paddock with the right front suspension dangling from the chassis . Visibly frustrated, the New Zealander finished the day after setting the fastest lap of the session when he fell (1m21,1254s).

Almost 10 minutes were lost to clear the cars, and with 50 minutes from the finish, practice resumed with Grosjean taking the P1 (1m20.8938s). After 10 minutes, Alexander Rossi was the new owner of P1 (1m18.4130s), followed by his teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay (1m18.4314s), Takuma Sato (1m18.5983s), Sébastien Bourdais (1m18.6185s) and Willpower (1m18.8362s).

Hunter-Reay moved to P1 (1m18.3745s) moments later, and Pato O’Ward moved to P4 (1m18.4341s). O’Ward’s next lap, 37 minutes from time, was good on the side and good enough for P1 (1.18.1155s).

At 25 minutes from the end of the session, O’Ward remained P1, Colton Herta was P2 (1m18,1834s), Hunter-Reay was P3, Rossi was P4, Power was P5, Sato was P6 and Scott Dixon was P7 ( 1m18.6017s). Grosjean also had the chance to do a 180 degree spin on turn 3 and start off on his own.

After 15 minutes on the clock, Rinus VeeKay jumped to P2 (1m18,1459s). Dixon improved in P3 and Bourdais followed in P4. Herta took first place on Firestone’s primary tires (1m18.0746s) as most of the participants switched to faster red tires to perform qualifying simulations.

Power, also on the primaries, passed briefly to P1 before Rossi, on the reds, moved to P1 (1m17.6587s). With seven minutes remaining, Bourdais took P1 (1m17.4291s) while O’Ward improved to P2 (1m17.5143s). Dixon was up to P3 in the final minutes as VeeKay flew over the outside curb and grass at Turn 1.

With less than a minute to go, Hinchcliffe was the last and last to perform 180 degree spins without contacting, this time between turns 12 and 13. Power moved to P1 on the last lap to replace the thunder of Bourdais.




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