Dixon fastest in IndyCar Practice 1, Penske drivers hit wall

Scott Dixon IndyCar St Petersburg

Scott Dixon was fastest in IndyCar Practice 1 at St Petersburg

Scott Dixon has set the pace in a bruising IndyCar Practice 1 at St Petersburg as both Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgarden, among others, hit the wall.

There were three red flags in the 75-minute session but several more local yellows as drivers up and down the field struggled with the bumpy St Petersburg street circuit and a new brake compound.

The vast majority of the field ran on primary tyres only, with Dixon setting the pace courtesy of a 1:01.6145s in the final two minutes in the #9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta went second after the chequered flag on a 1:01.6475s in the #26 Honda, from Alex Palou (#10 Ganassi Honda), Kyle Kirkwood (#27 Andretti Honda), and Simon Pagenaud (#60 Meyer Shank Racing Honda).

Rounding out the top 10 were Rinus VeeKay (#21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet), David Malukas (#18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda), Will Power (#12 Team Penske Chevrolet), rookie Marcus Armstrong (#11 Ganassi Honda), and 2022 St Petersburg race winner McLaughlin (#3 Penske Chevrolet).

After a late start to proceedings, just two drivers had set anything resembling a representative lap time when one of them, AJ Foyt rookie Benjamin Pedersen, brought about a red flag in the 11th minute when he got all crossed up at Turn 4 and crashed.

The hit was a glancing blow to the front wing and the Dane was able to drive the #55 Chevrolet back to the pits once his engine was refired, before another red flag was called in the 22nd minute to assess the track surface, specifically break-up of a concrete patch at the exit of Turn 3.

Armstrong was classified first on a 1:02.8901s when the field was let loose again and the big guns rolled out.

Fellow New Zealander McLaughlin moved the marker to a 1:02.8632s before Kirkwood, 2022 IndyCar champion Power, Felix Rosenqvist (#6 McLaren Chevrolet), and then Palou went to the top.

Kirkwood had reclaimed the ascendancy with a 1:01.8019s when Pagenaud half-spun and stalled at Turn 4, bringing about a third red flag period just past the half-hour mark.

It could very easily have been McLaughlin causing the stoppage instead, glancing the wall at Turn 10 and then making a big catch at Turn 12 when his #3 Chevrolet got loose and kicked up the dirt.

He was able to go back out and find more time, rising to fourth on a 1:02.1570s with half an hour to go, by which time Kirkwood had improved further to a 1:01.6851s.

Palou clocked a 1:01.6790s in the 69th minute before, with less than three minutes to go, Dixon went fourth on a 1:01.8539s and backed that up with what would prove the very fastest lap of the session next time around.

While VeeKay finished fifth, he too had a brush with the concrete, on entry to Turn 10 in the final minutes of the session.

McLaughlin would hit the wall a second time, bumping the left-rear on the barriers exiting Turn 3 in the latter stages, after team-mate Newgarden (#2 Chevrolet) had glanced the wall exiting Turn 9 in the 62nd minute.

The two-time IndyCar champion ended up 22nd on the timesheet, three positions up on Christian Lundgaard (#45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda), who slapped the wall on cold tyres at Turn 3 in the final 20 minutes.

Practice 2 starts on Saturday at 10:00 ET/Sunday at 02:00 AEDT and then Qualifying from 14:15 ET/06:15 AEDT, with both of those sessions live and ad-free on Stan Sport.

Results: Practice 1

Pos Num Driver C/E/T Fastest lap Split 1st/prev Lap
1 9 Scott Dixon D/H/F 1:01.6145 28/29
2 26 Colton Herta D/H/F 1:01.6475 0.0330/0.0330 25/25
3 10 Alex Palou D/H/F 1:01.6790 0.0645/0.0315 23/25
4 27 Kyle Kirkwood D/H/F 1:01.6851 0.0706/0.0061 12/26
5 60 Simon Pagenaud D/H/F 1:01.6963 0.0818/0.0112 26/28
6 21 Rinus VeeKay D/C/F 1:01.8514 0.2369/0.1551 25/25
7 18 David Malukas D/H/F 1:01.8613 0.2468/0.0099 12/24
8 12 Will Power D/C/F 1:01.8915 0.2770/0.0302 27/27
9 11 Marcus Armstrong D/H/F 1:01.9444 0.3299/0.0529 35/35
10 3 Scott McLaughlin D/C/F 1:01.9882 0.3737/0.0438 22/26
11 5 Pato O’Ward D/C/F 1:02.0177 0.4032/0.0295 18/23
12 77 Callum Ilott D/C/F 1:02.0360 0.4215/0.0183 24/25
13 8 Marcus Ericsson D/H/F 1:02.0733 0.4588/0.0373 23/29
14 28 Romain Grosjean D/H/F 1:02.1064 0.4919/0.0331 16/30
15 6 Felix Rosenqvist D/C/F 1:02.1094 0.4949/0.0030 18/26
16 29 Devlin DeFrancesco D/H/F 1:02.2507 0.6362/0.1413 20/26
17 30 Jack Harvey D/H/F 1:02.3236 0.7091/0.0729 24/26
18 06 Helio Castroneves D/H/F 1:02.3290 0.7145/0.0054 24/25
19 78 Agustin Canapino D/C/F 1:02.3629 0.7484/0.0339 34/34
20 14 Santino Ferrucci D/C/F 1:02.4032 0.7887/0.0403 29/29
21 7 Alexander Rossi D/C/F 1:02.4616 0.8471/0.0584 19/22
22 2 Josef Newgarden D/C/F 1:02.5150 0.9005/0.0534 16/17
23 20 Conor Daly D/C/F 1:02.5480 0.9335/0.0330 27/29
24 51 Sting Ray Robb D/H/F 1:02.8157 1.2012/0.2677 35/37
25 45 Christian Lundgaard D/H/F 1:03.0412 1.4267/0.2255 11/13
26 15 Graham Rahal D/H/F 1:03.1389 1.5244/0.0977 17/18
27 55 Benjamin Pedersen D/C/F 1:03.5134 1.8989/0.3745 21/26

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