St. Pete IndyCar: Newgarden heads Penske-Chevy 1-2

Defending Firestone GP St. Petersburg winner Josef Newgarden led teammate Will Power in opening practice for the second round of the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season.

St. Pete IndyCar: Newgarden heads Penske-Chevy 1-2

After several minutes were lost when the data system went down, the session got underway with rookies Scott McLaughlin (Team Penske-Chevrolet), Jimmie Johnson (Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda), Romain Grosjean (Dale Coyne Racing with RWR-Honda) heading out first.

But it was Andretti Autosport-Honda’s Alexander Rossi who was first to break into the 60sec bracket with a 60.8653sec.

Teammate Colton Herta responded by snipping just 0.03sec off that lap, with nine-time St. Petersburg polesitter Will Power lowering the barrier by a further 0.02sec.

Felix Rosenqvist’s progress was hampered by a technical issue in the #7 Arrow McLaren SP-Chevy, and when he got underway he had a little outbraking himself moment down the Turn 7 escape road.

Grosjean also had to retrieve himself from the Turn 10 runoff.

Josef Newgarden, who has won the last two races at St. Pete, sprung to the top with a 60.8029sec with 11mins to go.

It’s hard to get [tire] temperature, on the first initial laps,” said the two-time IndyCar champion. “It’s what most are going to struggle with this weekend. But I expect we'll get more grip the more we run."

However, Sebastien Bourdais caused a brief red when he slithered down the Turn 10 runoff with under three minutes left, and then stalled as he tried to rejoin.

That left no time for improvements, leaving the top runners incredibly close – the Top 15 covered by just half a second.

Noteworthy was the fact that all four Team Penske cars were in the top eight, Scott Dixon reestablished himself as Ganassi’s unofficial team leader as Barber winner Alex Palou was in 20th, and Rosenqvist bounced back from his earlier issues to edge teammate and Barber polesitter Pato O’Ward.

Johnson was 2.3288sec off the pace but only a couple of tenths behind the more experienced Kellett, although the Foyt driver has not competed in an IndyCar at this track before.

Grosjean was 19th, 0.8sec from the top.

Second practice begins at 9.45am local (Eastern) time tomorrow.

Practice results:

Pos.

No.

Driver

Time

Gap

Engine

Team

1

2

Josef Newgarden

1:00.8029

 

Chevy

Team Penske

2

12

Will Power

1:00.8102

0.0073

Chevy

Team Penske

3

26

Colton Herta

1:00.8348

0.0319

Honda

Andretti Autosport

4

27

Alexander Rossi

1:00.8653

0.0624

Honda

Andretti Autosport

5

22

Simon Pagenaud

1:00.8992

0.0963

Chevy

Team Penske

6

9

Scott Dixon

1:00.9152

0.1123

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

7

7

Felix Rosenqvist

1:00.9956

0.1927

Chevy

Arrow McLaren SP

8

3

Scott McLaughlin

1:01.0158

0.2129

Chevy

Team Penske

9

5

Pato O'Ward

1:01.0603

0.2574

Chevy

Arrow McLaren SP

10

15

Graham Rahal

1:01.0912

0.2883

Honda

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

11

8

Marcus Ericsson

1:01.1170

0.3141

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

12

21

Rinus VeeKay

1:01.1750

0.3721

Chevy

Ed Carpenter Racing

13

28

Ryan Hunter-Reay

1:01.1946

0.3917

Honda

Andretti Autosport

14

14

Sebastien Bourdais

1:01.2693

0.4664

Chevy

AJ Foyt Enterprises

15

60

Jack Harvey

1:01.2986

0.4957

Honda

Meyer Shank Racing

16

20

Conor Daly

1:01.3612

0.5583

Chevy

Ed Carpenter Racing

17

29

James Hinchcliffe

1:01.4023

0.5994

Honda

Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport

18

30

Takuma Sato

1:01.4601

0.6572

Honda

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

19

51

Romain Grosjean

1:01.6050

0.8021

Honda

Dale Coyne Racing 

20

10

Alex Palou

1:01.7393

0.9364

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

21

18

Ed Jones

1:02.1530

1.3501

Honda

Dale Coyne Racing

22

59

Max Chilton

1:02.2768

1.4739

Chevy

Carlin

23

4

Dalton Kellett

1:02.9269

2.1240

Chevy

AJ Foyt Enterprises

24

48

Jimmie Johnson

1:03.1317

2.3288

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

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