Santino Ferrucci

MADISON, Ill. – Amid a championship fight in the NTT IndyCar Series comes two newcomers.

Series rookies Santino Ferrucci of Dale Coyne Racing and Marcus Ericsson of Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports were the fastest two drivers in Friday’s first practice of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Marcus Ericsson and James Hinchcliffe

Ferrucci turned a lap of 184.804 mph in his No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda while Ericsson ran 184.527 mph in his No. 7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda.

Behind them on the time sheet was a competitive field. The top eight drivers were within a two-tenths of a second on the 1.25-mile, D-shaped oval track. All 22 cars were within 0.63 seconds.

Among title contenders, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, the race winner here in 2017, was fourth – and the quickest Chevrolet driver – at 184.348 mph in the No. 2 PPG Chevrolet. He leads Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda) by 35 points with three races to go. Rossi was sixth in today’s first practice at 183.658 mph.

Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Chevrolet) was 14th on the speed chart at 182.342 mph. He trails Newgarden by 40 points. Five-time and reigning NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing, who is 52 points out of the lead in fourth, was third in this practice at 184.433 mph.

NTT P1 Award qualifying will be held today at 6:15 p.m. ET), with coverage on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, which includes Sirius Satellite Radio (XM 209, Sirius 98, Internet/App 970). A final hour-long practice will be held at 9:15 p.m. ET.

Saturday’s 248-lap race is set for television broadcast on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET. The green flag is scheduled for 8:45 p.m., with the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network calling the action.