Stats: Practice Results
Josef Newgarden knows he has just one mission – victory – to maintain his challenge for a third NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship tonight during the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline at World Wide Technology Raceway.
So far, so good.
Newgarden led the 90-minute practice session this afternoon with a top lap of 178.774 mph in the No. 2 Sonsio Team Penske Chevrolet. Newgarden is the reigning champion at this event, as he won the second race of the doubleheader last August at the 1.25-mile oval.
With four races to go in the 2021 season, Newgarden is fourth in the championship standings, 55 points behind leader Alex Palou.
Newgarden’s top lap led a monopoly on the top two spots on the time sheet by Team Penske. Rookie Scott McLaughlin was second-fastest at 177.669 in the No. 3 DEX Imaging Team Penske Chevrolet.
McLaughlin’s top lap continued his rapid adaptation to oval racing since joining the NTT INDYCAR SERIES this season after winning three consecutive Australian V8 Supercars titles on road and street courses. McLaughlin finished second in his first career oval start in the Genesys 300 on May 1 at Texas Motor Speedway.
“We jumped into the track when it was quite green, and it was a bit nervous and wasn’t really feeling the way I wanted it, so we made some really good changes across the session, and the DEX Imaging Chevy is going really good,” McLaughlin said. “I’m excited for what’s ahead. It’s nice to be on an oval. I love them so much and have really taken to them.”
2012 series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay was third at 177.541 in the No. 28 DHL Honda, with Graham Rahal fourth at 177.473 in the No. 15 Hy-Vee Honda.
Six-time and reigning series champion Scott Dixon rounded out the top five at 177.463 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda. Dixon is third in the series standings, 34 points behind Palou.
Palou ended up 17th at 175.906 in the No. 10 The American Legion Honda. The Spaniard will need to find more speed in NTT P1 Award qualifying later this afternoon (5 p.m. ET, Peacock Premium), as he has incurred a nine-position starting grid penalty for an unapproved engine change after the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix last Saturday at Indianapolis.
Pato O’Ward, 21 points behind Palou in second in the standings, was 10th at 176.701 in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.
Formula One veteran Romain Grosjean was an impressive 11th in the 24-car field in his first official oval racing practice session, with a best lap of 176.608 in the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda. Grosjean will make his oval racing debut in tonight’s 260-lap race, with live coverage starting at 8 p.m. (ET) on NBCSN and the INDYCAR Radio Network.
Competition should be tight in qualifying and in the race, as just eight-tenths of a second separated the fastest and slowest cars in the session on the tricky, asymmetrical oval