LONG POND, Pennsylvania – With just an hour of practice to set up their cars prior to qualifying for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, Verizon IndyCar Series drivers and teams used every available minute to be prepared as possible.
Andretti Autosport rookie Zach Veach, among a handful of drivers who tested Aug. 9 at the 2.5-mile triangular oval, was fastest in Saturday morning’s session with a lap of 217.393 mph in the No. 26 Group 1001 Honda. Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was second on the speed chart with a lap of 217.016 in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.
“I was one of the lucky ones that got to test here last week," said Veach, whose best finish thus far this season was fourth place at Long Beach in April, though he's logged top-10 finishes in each of his past two races. "I think that helps with confidence quite a bit. You can get up to speed at your own pace and we walked away from the test doing a 217.4 on our own.
"To do that speed today shows the car is similar to what it was. Hopefully, we can have the same speed in an hour or so (for qualifying). I’ve always like this place, especially in Indy Lights, so it’s cool to come in an Indy car and have some of the speed that we had when I got the Indy Lights pole.”
ABC SUPPLY 500: Practice 1 results; Qualifying order
Verizon P1 Award qualifying is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET and airs live on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. Each car will turn two timed laps, with the quickest cumulative time earning the pole position. Andretti Autosport’s No. 26 Honda started on the pole at Pocono a year ago with Takuma Sato behind the wheel and Garrett Mothersead the race engineer.
Mothersead is Veach’s engineer this year. Veach credited Mothersead for keeping him from stressing about the changing weather, including morning rain that delayed the start of practice by 30 minutes and shortened the time between practice and qualifying.
"I give my engineer a lot of credit," Veach said. "I used to be someone who really thought about things like this and got upset. In Indy car racing, nine times out of 10, there are more things happening to you that are out of your control. You just need to worry about things you can control and the weather is certainly not one of them."
Besides Veach, the only drivers to test last week at Pocono were fellow rookies Pietro Fittipaldi (Dale Coyne Racing), Matheus “Matt” Leist (AJ Foyt Racing) and Robert Wickens (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports), along with veteran Tony Kanaan (AJ Foyt Racing).
Scott Dixon, the championship leader after 13 races, was sixth on the practice speed chart with a lap of 215.679 mph in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Alexander Rossi, second in the standings and 46 points behind Dixon, was third in practice at 216.907 mph.
A total of 656 laps were completed in the session. The fastest lap by a driver without benefit of an aero tow came from Kanaan in the No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet (215.468 mph).
A final 60-minute practice, when teams and drivers will focus on race setup, is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. Saturday and will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, youtube.com/indycar and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
Sunday’s race, the 25th for Indy cars at Pocono dating to 1971, kicks off with live coverage starting at 1:30 p.m. on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.