Graham Rahal was quickest in the first practice Friday morning for the Gallagher Grand Prix, leading two Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing drivers in the top three on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Rahal’s best lap was 1 minute, 9.8421 seconds in the No. 15 Code 3 Associates Honda in the 90-minute session under sunny skies on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course.
SEE: Practice Results
“I think those reds (alternate Firestone tires) threw everybody for a loop compared to the May race,” Rahal said. “It’s a different compound, back to 2021, and it was way more understeer than what we were probably expecting, so I think there’s even a lot more time in it for us. We were probably the only guys that were improving on the blacks (Firestone primary tires) on Lap 15.
“So, I like it. We’ll see how qualifying goes, but I feel confident, particularly in the race car. I think that over the course of that 15 to 20 laps on blacks, we really didn’t get much degradation.”
Felix Rosenqvist was second at 1:09.9267 in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, one of two drivers for the team in the top five. Rahal’s teammate Christian Lundgaard was third at 1:10.1246 in the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda.
Alexander Rossi, who won this event last year with Andretti Autosport, was fourth at 1:10.1333 in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet. NTT INDYCAR SERIES points leader Alex Palou rounded out the top five at 1:10.1965 in the No. 10 The American Legion Honda fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing.
2021 series champion Palou leads two-time series champion Josef Newgarden by 84 points with four races remaining in the season. Newgarden had a tough session this morning, 24th in the 27-car field at 1:10.8258 in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. The next session today is NTT P1 Award qualifying at 12:30 p.m., leaving Newgarden and his engineers little time to make setup changes.
“It’s like P2,” Newgarden said of the time crunch. “When you’re in Practice 2, you get more condensed, and you’ve got to make a more educated decision on what you’re doing. So, we’ll have a good look at everything on the Hitachi car and come back out.”