Practice One In The Books
The first Verizon IndyCar practice at Barber Motorsports Park is in the books. Based off of one single practice, one might get the opinion that Roger Penske is tired of seeing the smaller teams come away with the wins in the first two races.
The four cars that make up Team Penske also made up the top four positions on the speed chart. Last year’s winner at Barber, Simon Pagenaud, finished where he left off last year by turning the fastest lap in practice. For those that weren’t able to watch live streaming, Pagenaud is in the day-glo yellow Menard’s car that you can clearly spot completely on the other side of the track.
Just behind Pagenaud was his newest Penske teammate, Joesf Newgarden who won this race in 2015 wile driving for CFH Racing. Will Power was third quick and Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves was last compared to his teammates but still was fourth quick.
For the rest of the field, it was a mixed bag. Alexander Rossi was quickest of the non-Penske drivers. He is running a red, white and blue scheme with bank sidepods and NAPA on the cowling as an associate sponsor. I knew NAPA was sponsoring only ten races as a primary sponsor, so I guess this is one of the seven where they are not on board.
Ryan Hunter-Reay was sixth with Graham Rahal seventh. The Long Beach winner, James Hinchcliffe was eighth quickest while Sébastien Bourdais was ninth and Scott Dixon was tenth. Aside from the four Team Penske cars, you have to go all the way down to the thirteenth spot to find the next fastest Chevy, that would be the car of Carlos Muñoz.
Zach Veach, making his Verizon IndyCar debut this weekend, was last in the practice, about two and a half seconds behind the time of Simon Pagenaud.
I found it striking that three of the four Andretti Autosport cars are carrying blank sidepods this weekend. the only one with full sponsorship appears to be Hunter-Reay. Marco Andretti, Takuma Sato and Alexander Rossi all seem to have space for rent on their cars.
As I said earlier, it is hot here. As I type at 1:54, it is 84° and will probably get hotter. Keep in mind, a front is scheduled to go through Saturday night and we will have temperatures more than twenty degrees cooler for Sunday’s race.
I’m now going back out into the heat and wander the paddock and the grounds. Again, follow me on Twitter at @Oilpressureblog for photos and comments. Did I tell you how great it is to be back at a race track?