INDIANAPOLIS – Will Power wasted no time reminding everyone how strong he runs on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, but the rest of the Verizon IndyCar Series field is in hot pursuit at the INDYCAR Grand Prix.
Power, in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, let this morning’s opening practice for the fifth annual event with a lap of 1 minute, 10.0866 seconds (125.279 mph) around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course that uses a portion of the famed 2.5-mile oval.
INDYCAR GRAND PRIX: Practice 1 results
While the two-time INDYCAR Grand Prix winner set the pace, 13 other drivers were within a half second of Power. Alexander Rossi was second quick at 1:10.1198 (125.220 mph) in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda for Andretti Autosport.
“We had a good car here at the test we had a couple months ago – we were quickest,” Rossi said, referring to a chilly manufacturer test day on March 23. “We came back with quite a bit of confidence.
“It’s not too different from any other track. The big thing you’re trying to maximize is braking zones because there’s such long straights here with two very heavy braking zones. You can win or lose a lot of time there.”
Rookie Jordan King, who has shown impressive flashes of speed competing on the road and street circuits in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, was third quick in the opening session at 1:10.1551 (125.157 mph). While happy with the result, the 24-year-old Brit knows there’s still work to do to get the car to agree with the much warmer conditions this weekend compared to the March test.
“There’s a few tricks that have been thrown up in the last two months with just the weather changes,” King said, “but I’m sure we’ll get on top of it. So far it’s looking all right, so we’ll see how it goes.”
King qualified fourth and led five laps in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix before finishing 21st. His best result in three races this season was 14th in last month’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First.
“I’ve tried not to put any more pressure on myself,” King said of trying to improve the finish this weekend. “Everything’s been really good, the speed’s been really good. We probably should have had two podiums and top-five finishes. We know it’s there, it’s just kind or ironing out the few little creases and we’ll get it.”
Sebastien Bourdais was fourth in the practice (1:10.1791) in the No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan. Reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato was fifth (1:10.1824) in the No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo, named Thursday to replace injured Pietro Fittipaldi in the No. 19 Paysafe Honda for Dale Coyne Racing, was in impressive 14th in the practice. With a top lap of 1:10.5781, the 20-year-old Canadian with less than a half second off Power’s pace.
A second 45-minute practice starts at 12:30 p.m. ET today, ahead of Verizon P1 Award qualifying to determine the pole winner at 4:30 p.m. Both sessions stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, youtube.com/indycar and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
Saturday’s 85-lap race airs live at 3:30 p.m. on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.