Phoenix IndyCar: Defending winner Pagenaud tops first practice

2016 IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud picked up where he left off last April, driving his Team Penske-Chevrolet to the top of the time sheets with his very last lap in FP1 at Phoenix’s ISM Raceway.

Phoenix IndyCar: Defending winner Pagenaud tops first practice

Although James Hinchcliffe held top spot for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda for much of the session, the teams took a fairly measured approach to tire usage, and it wasn’t until the closing 12 minutes that times started to fall, and speeds started to climb.

Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay was the first driver to eclipse the 182mph barrier with a lap of 20.2143sec around the 1.022-mile oval, but with six minutes to go, Pagenaud knocked him back with a 182.313 lap in the #22 Penske-Chevrolet.

The 2016 champion was then demoted by Tony Kanaan’s AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet, which shone so brightly at the preseason test here and in this session lapped at 182.313mph. However, with his very last flyer, Pagenaud clawed back top spot with a 182.375mph run.

Dale Coyne Racing-Honda’s St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais had a good stab at top spot but had to settle for P3, enough to best Hunter-Reay’s earlier effort, and that of RHR’s Andretti Autosport teammate, Alexander Rossi .

Hinchcliffe’s 181.824mph was good enough for sixth, ahead of Ed Jones in the faster of the two Chip Ganassi Racing-Hondas, Penske’s reigning champion Josef Newgarden, and rookies Matheus Leist (Foyt) and Robert Wickens (SPM).

Surprisingly, neither Scott Dixon (Ganassi) nor Will Power (Penske) reached 180mph. Indeed, they were only a tenth of a second faster than two more impressive rookies – Kyle Kaiser, who for this race replaces St. Pete debutant Rene Binder in the Juncos Racing-Chevy, and Pietro Fittipaldi in the second Coyne car.

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda duo, Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal, who between them topped all four preseason test sessions here, were only 18th and 17th respectively.

However, conditions will change before the next session – qualifying – to be held at 5pm local (Pacific) time. 

IndyCar, Phoenix first practice

ClaDriverLapsTimeGapIntervalMph
1 22 france  Simon Pagenaud  34 20.1738     182.375
2 14 brazil  Tony Kanaan  29 20.1807 0.0069 0.0069 182.313
3 18 france  Sébastien Bourdais  25 20.2001 0.0263 0.0194 182.138
4 28 united_states  Ryan Hunter-Reay  24 20.2143 0.0405 0.0142 182.010
5 27 united_states  Alexander Rossi  32 20.2286 0.0548 0.0143 181.881
6 5 canada  James Hinchcliffe  42 20.2349 0.0611 0.0063 181.824
7 10 united_arab_emirates  Ed Jones  32 20.3186 0.1448 0.0837 181.075
8 1 united_states  Josef Newgarden  28 20.3348 0.1610 0.0162 180.931
9 4 brazil  Matheus Leist  42 20.3716 0.1978 0.0368 180.604
10 6 canada  Robert Wickens  40 20.4164 0.2426 0.0448 180.208
11 9 new_zealand  Scott Dixon  36 20.4950 0.3212 0.0786 179.517
12 12 australia  Will Power  35 20.5381 0.3643 0.0431 179.140
13 32 united_states  Kyle Kaiser  54 20.6070 0.4332 0.0689 178.541
14 19 canada  Zachary Claman DeMelo  45 20.6571 0.4833 0.0501 178.108
15 98 united_states  Marco Andretti  23 20.6900 0.5162 0.0329 177.825
16 21 united_states  Spencer Pigot  32 20.7152 0.5414 0.0252 177.609
17 15 united_states  Graham Rahal  30 20.7561 0.5823 0.0409 177.259
18 30 japan  Takuma Sato  32 20.7658 0.5920 0.0097 177.176
19 88 colombia  Gabby Chaves  25 20.8596 0.6858 0.0938 176.379
20 20 united_states  Ed Carpenter  38 20.9273 0.7535 0.0677 175.809
21 26 united_states  Zach Veach  36 21.1017 0.9279 0.1744 174.356
22 23 united_states  Charlie Kimball  28 21.1338 0.9600 0.0321 174.091
23 59 united_kingdom  Max Chilton  29 21.4195 1.2457 0.2857 171.769
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