SALINAS, Calif – Following six hours of on track testing on Thursday, the NTT IndyCar Series drivers took to the 2.258-mile WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Friday for two more sessions, this time them being labeled as “practice” sessions.
While the focus is on how well the four championship eligible drivers are doing, we can’t overlook how strong this rookie class is faring this weekend either. The Rookie of the Year battle is up for grabs too with Felix Rosenqvist currently leading Santino Ferrucci by 26 points. Colton Herta is third, but 49 points arrears.
They led the day off in being 1-2-3 in the initial practice session of the weekend on Friday morning and 2-4-5 in the final session too.
Herta, got off course to bring out the checkered flag at the end, but the Harding Steinbrenner Racing driver turned in a lap of 1:10.7335-seconds to pace the 24 car field. Herta, was also quickest by a half of a second on Thursday in his No. 88 Honda as he was second and first respectively in the two sessions yesterday.
Rosenqvist, was third quick in both test sessions on Thursday and second in the first practice on Friday too. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver circled the northern California road course with a top time of 1:10.8054-seconds in his No. 10 Honda. The Swedish rookie driver has finished runner-up in each of the last two natural road course races.
Ferrucci, was P3 in his No. 19 Honda after completing a lap of 1:10.8837-seconds. Will Power (1:11.0024-seconds) and Zach Veach (1:11.0816-seconds) rounded out the top five.
For Power, he won the last race at Portland and is looking to close the season out with three wins over the final four rounds. He was quick on Thursday too in being seventh and second respectively in the two sessions.
What’s crazy was, none of the four championship drivers were in the top five of the speed charts. Simon Pagenaud led the way amongst them in being sixth quickest. Josef Newgarden was P9 while Scott Dixon was found back in 14th. The biggest worry came for Alexander Rossi who only completed four laps after his team found a hardware issue with his No. 27 Honda. Rossi, would have to get out of his car for the team to fix it, which relegated him to being last on the timing charts for session No. 1.
It didn’t get much better in the second session. Rossi, completed just 13 laps and was 23rd out of 24 cars in that session. His teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay was found at the top of the speed charts though. Hunter-Reay went out on fresh Firestone Reds and turned in a time of 1:09.9105-seconds in his No. 28 Honda in the closing seconds.
Rosenqvist (1:09.9305-seconds) was second while Herta (1:09.9317-seconds) Pagenaud (1:10.1353-seconds) and Ferrucci (1:10.2066-seconds) rounded out the top five in being third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Newgarden ended the session sixth with Dixon chiming in seventh.
The series is back at it on Saturday for the final practice session of the season at 1-1:45 p.m. ET followed by qualifying on NBCSN at 4:30 p.m. ET to set the field for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey (2:30 p.m. ET/NBC/INDYCAR Radio Network).