DETROIT – The diversity and challenge of the Verizon IndyCar Series was on full display for this morning’s opening practice at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear.
Five days removed from competing wheel-to-wheel at more than 200 mph on the iconic 2.5-mile oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 22 drivers took to the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle temporary street course to prepare for the only doubleheader race weekend on the 2017 schedule.
CHEVROLET DETROIT GRAND PRIX: Practice 1 results
Graham Rahal set the pace in the opening 45-minute session with a fast time of 1 minute, 15.3328 seconds (112.302 mph) in the No. 15 SoldierStrong / TurnsforTroops.com Honda. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver, who finished 12th on Sunday in the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, finished ahead of a pair of Team Penske drivers on the time sheet – Helio Castroneves and Josef Newgarden.
"I'm really pleased with the car," Rahal said. "We'll see how it goes over the weekend, but I felt like I had a couple more tenths (of a second quicker) in there easy. ... That being said, I feel like we're in a pretty good spot. I don't want to get too overconfident here but the car seems to be strong."
Castroneves' best lap in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet was 1:15.4890 (112.069 mph). Newgarden was third in the No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske at 1:15.5384 (111.996 mph).
Takuma Sato, fresh off his historic Indianapolis 500 win, was 12th in the first practice, with a lap of 1:16.1625 (111.000 mph) in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda. Esteban Gutierrez, making his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in the No. 18 UNIFIN Honda for Dale Coyne Racing, turned 20 laps and was 21st on the chart with a lap of 1:18.2289 (108.144 mph).
The second and final practice session of the weekend starts at 3:30 p.m. ET today. Qualifying for the first 70-lap race is set for 10:05 a.m. Saturday, with qualifying for Race 2 slated for 10:45 a.m. Sunday. All practice and qualifying sessions this weekend will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com.
Both races air live on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday.