Alexander Rossi’s final performance continued in Friday’s front run at Road America as he led the extended practice session by 1m45.6027s in the #27 Honda. Set using the faster replacement Firestone tires, Rossi was covered by teammate Andretti Autosport Colton Herta in P2 – also on alternates – At 1m45.7361s in a No. 26 Honda. Marcus Ericsson, driver of Chip Ganassi Racing, completed the manufacturer’s dominance in the top three, finishing eighth with a 1m 45.8050.
Penske’s Team Will Power was first among the Chevy brigade in fourth, with the championship leader clocking 1m45.8592s in entry #12. Ganassi’s Alex Palou’s No. 10 came in fifth with 1m45.9140s and Penske’s Scott McLaughlin closed the positions Top six with 1m45.9316s in a #3 Chevy race.
After a 20-minute inaugural 75-minute IndyCar practice session at Road America, 11 of 27 drivers—primarily beginners and those in need of extra laps—ventured the warm 4.0-mile road course covered in a variety of clouds and blue skies. . Everyone went to the track with the 30-minute mark, but many teams chose to sit for extended periods during the session to conserve tires for other outings, as the extra 30 minutes of training didn’t come with any additional tire allocation on the weekend.
Callum Ellot returning from Juncos Hollinger Racing set the fastest early lap at 1m47.6760s. Once the full field came into action, Romain Grosjean quickly took the lead with 1m46.9302s. Grosjean’s teammate Rossi was next in the lead, improving his fastest lap to 1m 46.6714sec.
Herta was the next big engine to finish second in the session with 1m46.7539s and Ericsson followed in third with 1m46.8876s pushing Grosjean into fourth. The red flag flew as Helio Castroneves made a turn and stopped at the Canada corner, and after losing five minutes the session resumed with nearly 12 minutes remaining.
With a special IndyCar franchise allowing teams to use a set of replacement tires for FP1 on Friday – but not for FP2 tomorrow before qualifying – the remainder of the session was spent figuring out the alternatives. While the top three were unchanged, plastered tires — in combination with natural progression and improved track surface improvement — increased saw speeds across the board.
“Today was a good day,” Rossi said. “It was a bit strange to have the replacement Firestone tyres on day one, so it will be interesting to see how that translates tomorrow. Obviously the development of the track will continue to improve every session of the weekend, so we will have to see how. That will go from practice to qualifying. The number 27 went off strong, which is positive these weekends when it’s so close and you have to start from a good point. Hats off to the team and their efforts.”
Elsewhere on the field, Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Christian Lundgaard was fairly promising in the 13th and was not hampered by Elott with a recent broken wrist, setting the fastest lap on day 15 after missing the final round in Detroit.
Simona de Silvestro’s first IndyCar lap lap seven years ago had trouble early on as her rear brake caught fire after just six laps. At the time, Ed Carpenter Racing’s compatible Paretta Autosport driver was cutting nearly three seconds off the first lap time and closing out the day at 27 with 1m 48.7490s – nearly one second off his ECR teammate Rinus VeeKay in 22nd.
next one: FP2, Saturday, 10:45 a.m. ET