St. Pete IndyCar: Newgarden tops FP2, threatens lap record

Josef Newgarden kept Team Penske-Chevrolet at the top of the St. Petersburg times with a 60.0622sec lap of the 1.8-mile street and runway track.

Newgarden’s best effort was just a couple of hundredths from the track record, and was enough to put him more than a tenth ahead of his 2019 title rival, Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport-Honda.

Jack Harvey was third for Meyer Shank Racing-Honda ahead of another Andretti car, that of Colton Herta, while Marcus Ericsson was swiftest of the Chip Ganassi Racing-Hondas.

Story of the session

Romain Grosjean showed how swift his acclimation to IndyCar has been with a strong 61.1sec on his eighth lap of the 1.8-mile St. Petersburg track in his Dale Coyne Racing with RWR-Honda. However, Meyer Shank Racing-Honda’s Jack Harvey lowered the benchmark to 60.8249sec – a mark that Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport-Honda eclipsed with a 60.6277sec, fastest time of the weekend so far.

Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda’s rookie Jimmie Johnson was the first driver to take on Firestone’s alternate compound but frustratingly kept hitting traffic. His six-time IndyCar champion teammate Scott Dixon bounded up to the 60.6sec segment, just 0.175sec behind Rossi at the halfway point of the session.

It was Arrow McLaren SP-Chevy driver Pato O’Ward who finally displaced Rossi with a 60.5164sec run, still on primaries, and O’Ward’s teammate Felix Rosenqvist went just 0.11sec slower to claim third.

With 15mins to go, Team Penske-Chevy’s rookie Scott McLaughlin moved into seventh, still on primary tires, which put him in the same 60.7sec zone as teammate Josef Newgarden, the pair sandwiching Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevy. Simon Pagenaud, after a couple of trips down the Turn 4 escape road, also entered the top eight on primaries.

Then with 12mins to go, the front runners started switching to the alternate compound, and soon Andretti’s Colton Herta had whittled the leading time down to 60.2216sec – only to see Rossi trim a further 0.04sec from that time to claim P1.

McLaughlin then moved to third, briefly fastest of the Penske drivers as Will Power appeared to be struggling with understeer, but then Newgarden set a 60.0622 lap, an average of 107.888mph, to hit the top of the times.

Felix Rosenqvist’s red-tire run was spoiled by a front-right lock-up and a trip down the Turn 4 escape road.

A late improvement by Harvey saw him split the fastest Andretti cars to land third spot, while Pagenaud’s startling gold car claimed sixth, second fastest of the Penskes.

Qualifying begins at 1.45pm local (Eastern) time.

Cla Driver Team Laps Time Gap Mph
1 United States Josef Newgarden
United States Team Penske 23 1'00.062 107.888
2 United States Alexander Rossi
United States Andretti Autosport 23 1'00.174 0.112 107.686
3 United Kingdom Jack Harvey
United States Meyer Shank Racing 21 1'00.219 0.157 107.607
4 United States Colton Herta
United States Andretti Autosport 26 1'00.221 0.159 107.603
5 Sweden Marcus Ericsson
United States Chip Ganassi Racing 27 1'00.221 0.159 107.602
6 France Simon Pagenaud
United States Team Penske 28 1'00.273 0.211 107.510
7 New Zealand Scott McLaughlin
United States Team Penske 28 1'00.300 0.238 107.462
8 New Zealand Scott Dixon
United States Chip Ganassi Racing 29 1'00.326 0.264 107.416
9 France Romain Grosjean
Dale Coyne Racing with RWR 24 1'00.419 0.357 107.250
10 Mexico Patricio O'Ward
Arrow McLaren SP 25 1'00.479 0.417 107.143
11 Spain Alex Palou
United States Chip Ganassi Racing 29 1'00.507 0.445 107.094
12 Sweden Felix Rosenqvist
Arrow McLaren SP 21 1'00.629 0.566 106.879
13 Australia Will Power
United States Team Penske 24 1'00.648 0.586 106.844
14 United States Conor Daly
United States Ed Carpenter Racing 25 1'00.699 0.637 106.755
15 Canada James Hinchcliffe
Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 21 1'00.701 0.639 106.751
16 France Sébastien Bourdais
United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 27 1'00.707 0.645 106.742
17 Netherlands Rinus van Kalmthout
United States Ed Carpenter Racing 27 1'00.709 0.647 106.737
18 United States Ryan Hunter-Reay
United States Andretti Autosport 25 1'00.716 0.653 106.726
19 United States Graham Rahal
United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 28 1'00.730 0.668 106.701
20 Japan Takuma Sato
United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 30 1'00.890 0.828 106.420
21 Canada Dalton Kellett
United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 19 1'01.276 1.214 105.750
22 United Arab Emirates Ed Jones
Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan 24 1'01.671 1.609 105.073
23 United Kingdom Max Chilton
United Kingdom Carlin 23 1'01.715 1.653 104.998
24 United States Jimmie Johnson
United States Chip Ganassi Racing 26 1'02.359 2.297 103.913

 

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Series IndyCar
Event St. Pete
Author David Malsher-Lopez
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