Laguna Seca IndyCar: Rookies star in first practice despite offs
Colton Herta led fellow IndyCar rookies Felix Rosenqvist and Santino Ferrucci in opening practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, but all three ran off the road, and Herta ended the session by causing a red flag with a spin at the Corkscrew.
Herta’s Harding Steinbrenner Racing-Honda lapped 2.238-mile WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in 1min10.734sec, a 113.904mph effort which nipped Rookie of the Year points leader Felix Rosenqvist of Chip Ganassi Racing by just 0.0719sec.
However, in the dying seconds of the session, the #88 HSR car looped into the runoff on the outside of the initial left-hand part of the Corkscrew, and no amount of wheelspinning could recover the situation without outside assistance.
That red was the second of the session, as Tony Kanaan binned his AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet at Turn 11.
Rosenqvist had a long run through the sand on the outside of Turn 4 and a wild moment through the Corkscrew before scoring his best time on his final lap, while Ferrucci of Dale Coyne Racing also had some wild moments before setting a time just 0.15sec off Herta’s best.
Team Penske’s Will Power was fastest of the NTT IndyCar Series veterans and fastest of the Chevrolet runners, albeit 0.27sec off the ultimate pace. Zach Veach was fifth and fastest of the Andretti Autosport cars, while Simon Pagenaud was first of the championship contenders in sixth.
The other title contenders – leader Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi and Scott Dixon – were ninth, 24th and 14th respectively.
Rossi was on a hot lap when Kanaan brought out the red flag, and he then asked for a significant setup change that required him to step out of the car for 20mins. When Rossi resumed, there were just three minutes to go, at which point Herta’s spin prevented him setting a representative time.
Spencer Pigot was eighth fastest for Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet, while Matheus Leist (Foyt) and Marco Andretti (Andretti) set encouraging laps to go 10th and 11th-fastest respectively.
Second practice begins at 2.10pm local (Pacific) time.
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