Dixon fastest in IndyCar Practice 1, Penske drivers hit wall
Saturday 4th March, 2023 - 8:46am
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|
|24||51||Sting Ray Robb||D/H/F||1:02.8157||1.2012/0.2677||35/37|
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