Will Power topped the opening two practice sessions and broke his previous qualifying lap record for the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Indianapolis on a warming 14-turn road course. The No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet, who’s driver is one of two who have won here in the last three years, led the normal host of Penske and Ganassi cars at the top to kick off Round 5 of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship.
In the first session, Power recorded a best time of 1:09.670 on his final of 19 laps out on the warming Indianapolis circuit. Just 0.0924 behind Power was Scott Dixon in the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. The Chevrolets of Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Spencer Pigot completed the top five.
Most drivers put in about 16 laps with Charlie Kimball putting in the most at 20. The entire field recorded 359 laps through the 45 minute session as teams and driver began to figure out set up and strategy for Saturday’s main event.
It was a parade of three of the five Team Penske entries at the top of the charts with Power besting his previously set time by 1.5 seconds and the qualifying lap record he set in 2016 at 1:08.675. His lap of 01:07.7684 was nearly 0.3s ahead of Newgarden and Juan Pablo Montoyta, who makes his first start this weekend since October of last year. Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi was the first split of the Penske entries, recording a lap 0.46s off the top spot. Helio Castroneves competed the top 5.
Defending two-time INDYCAR GP champion Simon Pagenaud was scored eighth fastest at the end of the second 45-minute practice session.
All but one driver bested their opening practice times. Carlos Munoz encountered an issue, stalling his No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet outside of Turn 7. Munoz brought out the second red flag of the session after Ryan Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 Honda stopped on the circuit.
Despite Honda showing strong pace on road courses throughout the early part of the 2017 season, Chevrolet seems to have turned up the wick for the month of May. With only the three Hondas of Dixon, Graham Rahal and Max Chilton in the top ten in the first session Rossi’s 4th place Honda being the marque’s fastest in session two, Honda Development Performance may have their work cut out for them over the next 30 days and potentially for the rest of the season.
Qualifying for the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Indianapolis is scheduled for 4:20 PM Eastern today and will be streamed live on racecontrol.indycar.com. The race is schedule for 3:50 PM Eastern tomorrow, Saturday May 12 on live on ABC.