Newgarden leads first Laguna Seca practice

Josef Newgarden. Picture: Chris Owens

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden has made a strong start to the Grand Prix of Monterey, topping Practice 1 at Laguna Seca.

The two-time IndyCar Series winner set the pace in Friday’s sole session, clocking a 1:11.7125s early on in proceedings.

“Overall we unloaded pretty good,” said Newgarden.

“I felt like that matched this morning. Small differences here or there, but for the most part globally it felt like the car was in the window. Just got to look after it.

“Obviously things can change quickly. In Portland we were pretty sorted out in practice one, we choked in qualifying and were pretty far off the pace.

“That’s the number one thing for us in the #2 car, have a consistent run all the way through. If we can do that, we’ll be in the fight.”

There was little to split Newgarden and his nearest rival Colton Herta of Andretti Autosport who was a mere 0.0802s adrift of the top time with a 1:11.7927s.

Series leader Alex Palou was third fastest for Chip Ganassi Racing on a 1:11.9750s, ending the session two tenths off the pace.

Having earlier in the day been involved in a crash with Dale Coyne Racing team-mate Romain Grosjean, Ed Jones didn’t let the incident spook him as he set the fourth fastest time.

Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport), Oliver Askew (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing), James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport), Jack Harvey (Meyer Shank Racing), Grosjean (Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing), and Marcus Ericsson (Chip Ganassi Racing) completed the top 10.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s other title contender Scott Dixon was 11th overall with fellow ‘Scott’ McLaughlin in 12th for Team Penske.

This weekend marks the first time that Pato O’Ward has raced in the IndyCar Series at Laguna Seca. He was 14th fastest for McLaren SP and seven tenths off the pace.

Will Power ended the session 15th while Team Penske team-mate Simon Pagenaud was 20th.

The 45-minute session wasn’t without a small dose of drama. Meyer Shank Racing’s Helio Castroneves stuck his car in the Turn 1 gravel with 18 minutes to go, duly bringing out the red flag.

McLaughlin would have a drama of his own at the death, spinning his car at the famed Corkscrew with just a few seconds remaining in the session.

Free Practice 2 gets underway tomorrow at 03:45 (AEST) before Qualifying at 07:05 (AEST).

The 95-lap Grand Prix of Monterey takes place on Monday at 05:00 (AEST).

Results: IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Monterey, Practice 1

Pos Num Name Tim Diff Gap Engine Team
1 2 Josef Newgarden 1:11.7125 Chevy Team Penske
2 26 Colton Herta 1:11.7927 0.0802 0.0802 Honda Andretti Autosport
3 10 Alex Palou 1:11.9750 0.2625 0.1823 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
4 18 Ed Jones 1:12.0166 0.3041 0.0416 Honda Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan
5 27 Alexander Rossi 1:12.0625 0.3500 0.0459 Honda Andretti Autosport
6 45 Oliver Askew 1:12.1516 0.4391 0.0891 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
7 29 James Hinchcliffe 1:12.1885 0.476 0.0369 Honda Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport
8 60 Jack Harvey 1:12.2289 0.5164 0.0404 Honda Meyer Shank Racing
9 51 Romain Grosjean 1:12.3210 0.6085 0.0921 Honda Dale Coyne Racing w/RWR
10 8 Marcus Ericsson 1:12.3564 0.6439 0.0354 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
11 9 Scott Dixon 1:12.4415 0.7290 0.0851 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
12 3 Scott McLaughlin 1:12.4462 0.7337 0.0047 Chevy Team Penske
13 6 Helio Castroneves 1:12.4757 0.7632 0.0295 Honda Meyer Shank Racing
14 5 Pato O’Ward 1:12.4982 0.7857 0.0225 Chevy Arrow McLaren SP
15 12 Will Power 1:12.5701 0.8576 0.0719 Chevy Team Penske
16 7 Felix Rosenqvist 1:12.7014 0.9889 0.1313 Chevy Arrow McLaren SP
17 15 Graham Rahal 1:12.8486 1.1361 0.1472 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
18 14 Sebastien Bourdais 1:12.9506 1.2381 0.1020 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
19 30 Takuma Sato 1:12.9923 1.2798 0.0417 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
20 22 Simon Pagenaud 1:13.0318 1.3193 0.0395 Chevy Team Penske
21 21 Rinus VeeKay 1:13.0717 1.3592 0.0399 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
22 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 1:13.1024 1.3899 0.0307 Honda Andretti Autosport
23 20 Conor Daly 1:13.1403 1.4278 0.0379 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
24 48 Jimmie Johnson 1:13.2609 1.5484 0.1206 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
25 59 Max Chilton 1:13.3980 1.6855 0.1371 Chevy Carlin
26 4 Dalton Kellett 1:13.7256 2.0131 0.3276 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
27 77 Callum Ilott 1:13.7398 2.0273 0.0142 Chevy Juncos Hollinger Racing

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