SALINAS, Calif – Since the NTT IndyCar Series hasn’t raced at the WeatherTech Raceway in Laguna Seca since 2004, the 24 drivers competing in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey (2:30 p.m. ET/NBC/INDYCAR Radio Network) got a full day of testing on the 2.258-mile California road course on Thursday.
That was ever so important to the four drivers vying to win this year’s championship on Sunday as well.
At the end of it, things looked good for Alexander Rossi and Scott Dixon. See, Dixon topped the speed charts in the first of two sessions run on Thursday in his No. 9 Honda in turning in a lap of 1:11.0996-seconds. He was P6 (1:10.7894-seconds) in the final session of the day as well.
Rossi, was fifth (1:11.5671-seconds) and ninth (1:10.8231-seconds) in his No. 27 Honda. While those weren’t necessarily eye opening places on the speed charts, the biggest factor was the overall strength of Honda’s in general.
The entire top five of the first session belonged to the Honda camp including seven of the top nine overall. In the final test session, Honda took five of the top seven and 11 of the top 14 overall too.
That bodes well for qualifying on Saturday in what most of the drivers are saying will dictate who wins or not as track position is going to be crucial still.
In terms of Chevrolet, Josef Newgarden was 16th (1:12.0373-seconds) and fourth (1:10.6404-seconds) respectively. Simon Pagenaud was sixth (1:11.6315-seconds) and eighth (1:10.8131-seconds) respectively himself.
As you can see, the championship contenders are all right there with one another. But, you can also see that the door is open for a non championship contender to win this race outright.
Colton Herta was second (1:11.3881-seconds) and first (1:10.9105-seconds) respectively in his No. 88 Honda. His fellow rookie in Felix Rosenqvist was third in both sessions in his No. 10 Honda.
Joining them up front was the other Penske driver in Will Power who was seventh (1:11.6800-seconds) and second (1:10.5383-seconds) respectively.
Right now, the best seven cars right now belong to the four championship front runners with Herta, Rosenqvist and Power joining them.