Josef Newgarden’s summer hot streak continued Friday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The two-time winner at this permanent road course picked up where he left off in the most-recent NTT INDYCAR SERIES race – at Road America – by topping the practice charts here Friday in the only session of the day in preparation for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by The All-New 2023 Civic Type R (12:30 p.m. ET, live on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network).
Newgarden drove the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet to a best lap time of 1 minute, 7.0549 seconds on the 13-turn, 2.258-mile permanent road course.
CLICK: NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice 1 Results
Newgarden's season-leading three race wins have come at Texas Motor Speedway (March 20), on the streets of Long Beach (April 10) and at Road America (June 12). The weekend before Road America he scored the NTT P1 Award for pole at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park.
Newgarden is also the defending winner at Mid-Ohio.
“The car feels really good,” he said. “I think the (temperatures) definitely made the trap speed low, and it felt very difficult to drive the car today to bring it up to temperature.
“I’m relatively happy. I think our car was good off the truck.”
Defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Alex Palou ended the 75-minute session second on the practice sheet with a best lap time of 1:07.2610 in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Felix Rosenqvist rounded out the top three with a best lap time of 1:07.3171 in the No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.
The session featured 673 laps turned compared to last year’s first practice (461).
Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Marcus Ericsson, who finished second in this race in 2021, ended the day fourth in the No. 8 Ridgeline Lubricants Honda at 1:07.3720, and Colton Herta rounded out the top five in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda for Andretti Autosport w/Curb-Agajanian at 1:07.4998.
David Malukas was the fastest rookie of the session, clocking in eighth with a best lap of 1:07.5361 in the No. 18 HMD Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports. He completed 26 laps in his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES session at Mid-Ohio.
“Everything from our end, I think it was very good,” Malukas said. “From start to end of that session it was good. Mid-Ohio is so special, because every time you go out on track, it feels completely different, and track conditions to start the session were very tough to say the least.”
All 27 drivers in the field fought through the summer heat, with several drivers noting how challenging the mid 90-degree day was. Following practice, Newgarden said he has “rarely been this warm in the car.”
While Newgarden, a two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion, bested Palou, the reigning series champion, by more than two tenths of a second, the rest of the field was much more compact, with first and 20th separated by just 1 second.
The only incident of the session came with about 40 minutes to go. Two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato lost control of the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda in Turn 1 and spun off course and into the gravel trap.
Sato’s Dale Coyne Racing with RWR machine sustained no significant damage, and he continued on to pit lane as the track went under red flag conditions.
The only other off-course excursion came with roughly 25 minutes to go in the practice. Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean spun in Turn 12 in the No. 28 ForeverLawn/DHL Honda. He kept the car under power, and no red flag was thrown.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES is back on track at Mid-Ohio Saturday with Practice 2 at 9:30 a.m. (ET), followed by qualifying for the NTT P1 Award for pole at 2:45 p.m. Both sessions will be live on Peacock Premium and INDYCAR Radio Network.