Practice 1 results
WEST ALLIS, Wis. – It’s much too early for Juan Pablo Montoya to envision a championship celebration Aug. 30 at Sonoma Raceway.
The Team Penske driver is appreciative of the smooth sailing and the top spot in the standings he’s held from the outset of the Verizon IndyCar Series season, but the veteran knows “there are too many races to go.”
“The points lead can vanish in one week. You have one bad race, all the work for the year goes out of the window,” said Montoya, who enters the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers (4 p.m. CT July 12) with a 46-point advantage over teammate and reigning series champion Will Power.
Six drivers are within 100 points with five races remaining, with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma carrying double points.
“I've had two wins, won the Indy 500. I've led the points all year. If I can close the year, I think it would be great," Montoya added. "I think the most important thing is make sure we can keep the championship at Penske.”
Twenty-four drivers participated in a 75-minute practice session July 11 on The Milwaukee Mile, with Josef Newgarden turning the fastest lap at 169.626 mph (21.5415 seconds) in the No. 67 Direct Supply CFH Racing Chevrolet. Competitors will practice, qualify and race for 250 laps July 12.
Watch the second practice (9:15 a.m. CT July 12) and qualifications (12:30 p.m. CT) on Racecontrol.indycar.com augmented by real-time Timing & Scoring and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcast. Timing & Scoring and the radio broadcast for the race also is on Racecontrol.indycar.com at 4 p.m. CT.
“The Direct Supply car has been fast. It was fast here last year, so I expected us to be on our game,” said Newgarden, who recorded the fastest race lap in 2014 on the way to a fifth-place finish. “I think we have a great spot to start. It always helps when you roll off the truck good. I don’t know how many guys did (qualifying) sims, but we did one at the end. It’s pretty representative of a speed we can do. Hopefully, that’s going to be enough to stay ahead of everyone else.”
The top 14 cars were separated by a half-second.
Simon Pagenaud (169.408 mph) was second in the No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet and Takuma Sato (168.777) was third in the No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Honda.
“It was just a new set of tires at the end to check the balance to see how it will be during the race when we put new tires on,” said Pagenaud, who earned the Verizon P1 Award for the pole position two weeks ago at Auto Club Speedway. “It’s a strong baseline. We just need to keep working the details to get the pole. With the new aero kit, you want to be in clean air as much as you can.”
Graham Rahal, who won the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway, was fourth (168.095) on the speed chart in the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda and Tony Kanaan, a two-time winner at Milwaukee, was fifth (167.702) in the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.
Montoya turned a fast lap of 22.1818 seconds (164.730 mph) in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. He has recorded eight top-five finishes in the nine oval races since his return to Indy car racing in 2014. He won at Milwaukee in 2000 -- a week after winning his first Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
"Last year in Milwaukee we were really good (was runner-up to Power), and we were good at Iowa until I got taken out, and we won Pocono, so we know we have the potential to do really good on the rest of the ovals," he said. "But there's no guarantee and you can't go into any of them thinking it's going to be easy, because it won't. Too many things can go wrong, so we just have to be smart about it. If we're smart, and execute, I think we'll be OK."