The first of three practice session for the final Verizon IndyCar Series at Sonoma Raceway for the foreseeable future began promptly at 11 AM. The ambient temperature was 59F, and the track temperature was 93F.
Most of the 25 entries did an installation lap, coming back to pit road so that their crews could make sure everything was OK with the car.
A trio of rookies, Pietro Fittipaldi, Colton Herta, and Santino Ferrucci were the only drivers to remain on track and turn laps in anger.
With ten minutes gone in the 45-minute session, only six drivers had turned laps at speed. Not surprisingly, all of them were rookies, receive an extra set of Primary (Black) Firestone Racing Tires.
Each entry receives seven sets of the Primary (Black) and four sets of the Alternate (Red) Firestone Racing Tires, with rookies receiving an extra set of Blacks.
With 30 minutes left in the session, Fittipaldi, who tested on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn Sonoma Raceway road course yesterday was the quickest with a lap at 78.9148 seconds.
Graham Rahal, Max Chilton, Tony Kanaan, and Takuma Sato were the first of the veteran drivers on track.
Kanaan, who is making his 300th consecutive Indy car start, was pushing hard early, smoking the brakes and driving through the dried grass in the Turn 9 chicane.
With 20 minutes gone in the session, there were still seven drivers (Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden, James Hinchcliffe, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon, and Ryan Hunter-Reay) had yet to turn a lap.
Alexander Rossi, who had just taken to the track, was having “fun” on his early laps. The California driver had a big moment of understeer in the Turn 3 complex, and then when he got to the chicane, he appeared to take a little too much curb on entry putting the No. 27 Napa Honda offline and into a spin at the exit of the trick complex.
He did not make contact, kept the car running and was able to bring the car back to the pit lane. Unfortunately, that set of tires was likely useless after
With 18 minutes left in the session, Hinchcliffe, who had just started his fourth lap of the session, brought out the red flag. The Canadian lost the rear of his No. 5 ARROW Electronics Honda over the hump in the middle of Turn 2, did a 180-degree spin and made light contact with the tire barriers with the left side of the car.
The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team was able to get his Honda powerplant re-fired, and he was able to drive back to pit road.
At that point in the session, a lap of 77.5742 seconds by Ryan Hunter-Reay led the way. The rest of the top 10 were: Dixon, Power, Pagenaud, Andretti, Jones, Rahal, Veach, Bourdais and Spencer Pigot.
The green flag came back out with just under 15 minutes remaining.
With 12 minutes left in the session, Rossi had another off-track adventure, dropping his left-side tires off-track at the exit of Turn 4.
Every single driver turned their quickest lap in the first five laps of a set of tires. Expect tire wear to be a massive part of the narrative this weekend. That also tells us that, outside of the rookies, most drivers
At the very end of the session, Hinchcliffe had another spin. This time it was at in Turn 7. He kept the car running and brought it back to pit road.
Josef Newgarden didn’t turn a lap with reported mechanical issues. It was also reported by INDYCAR that the defending series champion was feeling under the weather.
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||QUICK LAP||DIFFERENCE||TOTAL LAPS|
|25||1||Josef Newgarden||No Time||—||—|