Newgarden blitzes opening practice at Mid-Ohio

Josef Newgarden at Mid-Ohio. Picture: Joe Skibinski

IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden has thrown down the gauntlet at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, comfortably topping opening practice.

No rival in the 26-car field got within two tenths’ of Newgarden’s benchmark, having nailed a 1:07.2524s on his 13th lap of the session.

It’s been a gut-wrenching recent period for the Team Penske driver, having looked set to win the past two races from pole position only to give up the lead late in the piece on each occasion.

In the second leg at Detroit, he was run down by a fast-finishing Pato O’Ward.

Then, a fortnight ago at Road America, technical troubles saw him tumble from the lead to finish 21st.

All of this has come in a frustrating season of near misses for Team Penske, which remarkably remains winless in IndyCar this year.

Newgarden though is upbeat about how things are shaping up at Mid-Ohio following Practice 1.

“I thought it was a good start. I was really happy with my car, to be honest, right out of the box,” said the 29-year-old.

“It’s still hard to warm up here, like always, but once we got going I was super pleased with the car.

“I felt like I was really locked down. We made some improvements without a doubt compared to last year. We’ve got to keep it up.

“Temperatures are going to change this weekend. Not so much tomorrow, but for Sunday, I think, will be quite a bit different.

“And just try to stay prepared and hold the speed we have right now. If we can do that, we’ll be in good shape.”

O’Ward was second in Practice 1, ahead of Jack Harvey in third.

Series leader Alex Palou was ninth, more than half a second shy of Newgarden’s best effort.

Among the Australasian contingent, Scott Dixon was seventh, Will Power 11th and Scott McLaughlin 16th.

Another 45-minute practice session will precede qualifying overnight.

Results: IndyCar Practice 1 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

RANK DRIVER CAR NO. BEST TIME TOTAL LAPS DIFFERENCE
1 Josef Newgarden 2 1:07.2524 17 –.—-
2 Pato O’Ward 5 1:07.5050 15 0.2526
3 Jack Harvey 60 1:07.5840 16 0.3316
4 Alexander Rossi 27 1:07.7245 18 0.4721
5 Graham Rahal 15 1:07.7561 18 0.5037
6 Romain Grosjean 51 1:07.7589 17 0.5065
7 Scott Dixon 9 1:07.7657 18 0.5133
8 Sebastien Bourdais 14 1:07.7711 18 0.5187
9 Alex Palou 10 1:07.7951 18 0.5427
10 James Hinchcliffe 29 1:07.8223 16 0.5699
11 Will Power 12 1:07.8863 19 0.6339
12 Simon Pagenaud 22 1:08.0046 16 0.7522
13 Felix Rosenqvist 7 1:08.0265 18 0.7741
14 Colton Herta 26 1:08.0330 14 0.7806
15 Ryan Hunter-Reay 28 1:08.0740 16 0.8216
16 Scott McLaughlin 3 1:08.1562 22 0.9038
17 Conor Daly 20 1:08.2312 18 0.9788
18 Rinus VeeKay 21 1:08.2367 21 0.9843
19 Max Chilton 59 1:08.3103 18 1.0579
20 Ed Jones 18 1:08.3526 16 1.1002
21 Marcus Ericsson 8 1:08.4101 21 1.1577
22 Ryan Norman 52 1:08.8122 17 1.5598
23 Dalton Kellett 4 1:09.0695 20 1.8171
24 Santino Ferrucci 45 1:09.0970 17 1.8446
25 Takuma Sato 30 1:09.6824 12 2.43
26 Jimmie Johnson 48 1:09.8165 25 2.5641

Join the discussion below in the Speedcafe.com comments section

Please note: Speedcafe.com reserves the right to remove any comment that does not follow the comment policy. For support, contact [email protected]