St Pete IndyCar: Andretti leads opening practice

Marco Andretti led a Honda-dominated session at St. Petersburg, while the track’s six-time polesitter Will Power had a minor shunt in his Team Penske-Chevrolet.

St Pete IndyCar: Andretti leads opening practice

Following changes to the track overnight, to circumvent an undulation and camber problem, drivers had to relearn Turn 3. The left-side wall has been moved back 40 feet, and on the right side, curbing has been installed, which has modified the corner from a flat-out fifth gear blast to a brake zone and a true corner, now taken in third.

Andretti’s Andretti Autosport Honda clocked a 1min03.7559sec lap, an average of 101.638mph around the 1.8-mile course. This put him barely more than a tenth quicker than the Chip Ganassi Racing duo of Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon but four tenths ahead of James Hinchcliffe in the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda.

Simon Pagenaud led the Chevrolet and Team Penske contingent with P5, but teammate Will Power lost the rear of his car under braking for Turn 10, and when he hit some oil-dry, it sent the #12 car into the wall with its right-rear corner. After a new rear wing was fitted, he was able to resume, but it was his pre-shunt time that held as his fastest and left him 11th.

Graham Rahal was sixth fastest, ahead of Helio Castroneves, with the Hondas of Charlie Kimball (Ganassi), Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport) and Max Chilton completing the Top 10.

In his first official session as a Team Penske driver, Josef Newgarden was 15th, having also lost control at Turn 10, but opting to slither down the escape road.

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