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Practice report
IndyCar Laguna Seca

IndyCar Laguna Seca: McLaughlin leads opening practice

Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin paced the opening practice for IndyCar's Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca on Friday.

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

The New Zealander wasn’t involved near the top of the leaderboard until near the end of the session when he rolled to a lap of 1m07.6325s around the 2.238-mile, 11-turn natural terrain road course.

Andretti Global’s Colton Herta, a two-time winner of the event, was second at just 0.0991s off the mark.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou, also a former winner at Laguna Seca, was third at 0.1046s behind McLaughlin’s time. 

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden was fourth, ahead of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Pietro Fittipaldi in fifth. 

“It’s quicker than it feels,” Newgarden said of the two-year-old repaved track surface. 

“Does feel like a lot of grip, but the lap time is not that bad compared to last year. It’s still really fast compared to the new pavement. You’re keeping a lot of speed. You’re tiptoeing more. Last year, the thing just felt like it was stuck in the track.

“This year, you’re on top of it. It’s a lot more line specific. Some corners you just can’t miss the line otherwise you’ll blow the corner. So, it’s interesting but it’s a fun track to drive. It’s a very challenging track physically and a lot of demand on the car, which is great.” 

Newly-signed Meyer Shank Racing driver David Malukas, making his first start of the season, brought out the first red flag just 24 minutes into the session after spinning out and stalling the No. 66 Honda in the approach to the Andretti Hairpin.  

Graham Rahal’s early mark of 1m09.0374s on a set of the harder primary tires that sat at the top of the leaderboard for the majority of the opening 33 minutes was dethroned by Kyle Kirkwood’s flying lap of 1m08.6421s. However, it was former winner Palou that vaulted to the first moments later with a lap of 1m08.5664s. 

Rookie Nolan Siegel, who was announced in a multi-year deal with Arrow McLaren and replaced reigning Formula 2 champion Theo Pourchaire earlier in the week, had a close call roughly 37 minutes into practice as the backend of the No. 6 Chevrolet nearly snapped around at the exit of the Corkscrew. Fortunately, he was able to save it and continue on.


The same couldn’t be said for Siegel’s newfound team-mate Pato O’Ward, who brought out the second red flag 13 minutes later after spinning off in Turn 5 and sliding backwards into the gravel trap. He managed to keep it off the wall, but did stall and needed assistance by the AMR Safety Team to get refired and sent back out. 

Andretti Global’s Marcus Ericsson swapped to a set of the softer alternate tires and managed to reset the fastest time with a 1m08.237s lap with roughly 17 minutes left in the session. He was followed by team-mate Kirkwood, who delivered a stout lap of 1m08.3524s just seconds later to push Palou down to third. 

Newgarden stormed to the top with just under 14 minutes left after a set of alternates guided his No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet to a best lap of 1m08.1587s. 

The lap times then began to falling with under 10 minutes to go as Herta, on alternates, pounded the pavement with a 1m07.7316s lap, which bettered the improved time by Newgarden of 1m07.8805s. 

Meanwhile, Fittipaldi propelled to third with a lap at 1m08.0025s. 

Palou fired back with a set of alternates of his own, rolling to a lap of 1m07.9588s to jump back to third, dropping Fittipalid to fourth with three minutes remaining. Palou then nailed a 1m07.7371s lap to replace Newgarden. 

McLaughlin managed to jump up to the top of the leaderboard with just over a minute to go, nailing a flyer of 1m07.6325s. 

Cla Driver # Laps Time Interval Mph
1 New Zealand S. McLaughlin Team Penske 3 21


2 United States C. Herta Andretti Global with Curb-Agajanian 26 16



0.0991 118.952
3 Spain A. Palou Chip Ganassi Racing 10 23



0.0055 118.942
4 United States J. Newgarden Team Penske 2 14



0.1434 118.691
5 Brazil P. Fittipaldi Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 30 33



0.1220 118.478
6 Mexico P. O'Ward Arrow McLaren 5 19



0.0065 118.467
7 United States K. Kirkwood Andretti Global 27 17



0.0364 118.403
8 United States A. Rossi Arrow McLaren 7 22



0.0317 118.348
9 New Zealand M. Armstrong Chip Ganassi Racing 11 25



0.0048 118.340
10 Australia W. Power Team Penske 12 22



0.0787 118.203
11 Denmark C. Lundgaard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 45 28



0.0031 118.198
12 Sweden M. Ericsson Andretti Global 28 22



0.0126 118.176
13 Argentina A. Canapino Juncos Hollinger Racing 78 27



0.0015 118.173
C. Rasmussen Ed Carpenter Racing
20 32



0.0677 118.056
15 Netherlands R. van Kalmthout Ed Carpenter Racing 21 15



0.0230 118.016
16 France R. Grosjean Juncos Hollinger Racing 77 25



0.0947 117.853
17 United States G. Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 15 28



0.1101 117.663
18 New Zealand S. Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing 9 24



0.0068 117.652
19 United States S. Ferrucci A.J. Foyt Enterprises 14 25



0.1740 117.354
20 United States K. Simpson Chip Ganassi Racing 4 35



0.0002 117.353
21 Sweden L. Lundqvist Chip Ganassi Racing 8 33



0.0529 117.263
R. Robb A.J. Foyt Enterprises
41 23



0.0762 117.133
23 Sweden F. Rosenqvist Meyer Shank Racing 60 25



0.1079 116.949
24 United Kingdom J. Harvey Dale Coyne Racing 18 23



0.0829 116.809
25 United States D. Malukas Meyer Shank Racing 66 22



0.0464 116.730
26 Italy L. Ghiotto Dale Coyne Racing 51 15



0.5749 115.766
N. Siegel Arrow McLaren
6 17



0.4064 115.094
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