Alexander Rossi is determined to flip the script on his results at Road America. The Andretti Autosport driver has never finished inside the top 12 on the infamous road course, and he has never led a lap in his three starts. He looks primed to change that this weekend, as he led all drivers in practice on Friday. Rossi’s best lap of 1:43.1206 seconds took the top spot just ahead of Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Colton Herta, and Felix Rosenqvist.
Rossi’s teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay led the opening session on Friday, and was 6th fastest overall when on-track activities came to an end. Honda had eight of the top ten fastest times, with Takuma Sato, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, and James Hinchcliffe dialing in their cars in preparation for Sunday’s race.
Friday Combined Practice Results
Many of the drivers that finished towards the front of the field today have had success at Road America in some form. Both Power and Newgarden have won here with Team Penske. Josef also finished runner-up two years ago, and has led more laps here (66) than any other active driver. Will has started on the front row in four of his five starts. Graham Rahal has completed every lap in his five starts at Elkhart Lake, and has two podium finishes.
Even though Rossi was fastest today, he wasn’t necessarily pleased with how his car was handling. “Not too happy with the car right now,” he said after nearly losing control multiple times. “I mean, I’m pleased obviously there’s pace in it, but it’s a handful to drive. Hopefully, we can make that a bit better for tomorrow.” Jack Harvey brought out one of two red flags on Friday, as many drivers were testing the limits of the track, dropping wheels off into the dirt.
Tony Kanaan impressed in the opening session, and the final warmup session where he was 8th fastest. He has yet to lead a lap in his eight starts here, but it would be a great story if AJ Foyt Racing were able to pick up a solid result this weekend. Patricio O’Ward is back this weekend with Carlin Racing, and ended up 11th overall on Friday.
There will be one final 45-minute practice session tomorrow at Noon ET, followed by qualifying for the Rev Group Grand Prix at Road America, which begins at 4 PM on NBC Gold. NBCSN will air qualifying one hour later at 5 PM.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: “It was a good day overall. I thought we were pretty smooth for the most part with no big drama. It’s great to have REV Group on my car this weekend. It’s really great what they’re doing for first responders. It’s always an exciting weekend here at Road America and I think REV Group has made it more exciting with what they’re doing to give back to our first responders. Our car feels good and fast. We’ve been in the top five all day which is a good sign. The boys look like they were pretty good on the pit stops so we just have to put it together in qualifying tomorrow and go race on Sunday and see what we got.”
MATHEUS LEIST: “We had a positive day here at the track. This place is very cool and I like driving around this track. I think we made some progress with the cars today, we made some changes from Practice 1 to Practice 2 and I’m feeling comfortable in the car for qualifying. Our goal for tomorrow is to qualify in the top 12 and race from there. I feel like we still have to improve the car a little bit for the race but we have one more practice tomorrow to figure it out. Hopefully we’re going to give the ABC Supply No. 4 Chevy a good race here.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: “Solid day for the No. 5 Arrow car. Honestly, the results in both of the afternoon sessions are not a true indicator of where we are. I made a little mistake on our (Firestone alternate tires) reds in Practice 2, and with the times being so close, despite being such a long lap, it knocked us down probably a few more spots than it should’ve. In warmup, unfortunately we had a bit of an issue with the car, so we didn’t run many laps; we were more trying to diagnose the problem. We’re not sure what happened yet, but unfortunately it also looks like both of my teammates had issues that session, too. But we’ll figure it out. Lot of confidence in the Arrow guys, lot of confidence in the car.”
MARCUS ERICSSON: “My first experience at Road America. It’s a very cool track, proper sort of old-school track. I’ve enjoyed it and it’s been fun to learn it. Pace-wise and driving-wise today, it’s not been the best. We seem to be struggling a bit in the Arrow car. I thought our day started off well in the first session, and then we sort of haven’t been able to improve as much as others have. We need to dig a bit deeper into that tonight and see why that’s the case. I’m still learning the track, so hopefully I can find a bit more in the driving as well.”
SCOTT DIXON: “It’s great being back here at Road America. It’s such a great track and one I love coming to, as I’m sure the other drivers will tell you. I think we had just an average day today in the PNC Bank car. For whatever reason, the car was just really difficult to drive. It was hard to find any speed so it was a challenge to piece a lap together. We’ll be looking at that and working on it tonight and tomorrow morning so we can improve and be where we need to be for qualifying tomorrow.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST: “It was a good jump from the first practice to the second in the NTT DATA car. In the first practice we thought things weren’t really optimal and the car felt a bit weird, and then into the second practice it felt a lot better – especially on the red tires. I think I have to work on my pace on black tires. Keeping the red tires alive seems to be tricky and a big question mark going into the race, so we’ll see how that works out. We still have one practice to work on things and if we can continue this progress I think we’ll have a good chance this weekend in the No. 10 car.”
WILL POWER: “The car was really good. Really happy with it in qualifying trim. It’s just a matter of massaging on it overnight, get it right in the window. I think we’re there.” (About racing at Road America) “It’s just a cool old-school track. I mean, it’s pretty low grip. The car moves around a lot. Like through the carousel, you’re sliding all the way through there. Yeah, don’t get these sort of tracks anymore. Just a track with a lot of character, old-school. You make a mistake, you certainly pay for it. Yeah, just an enjoyable place.”
TONY KANAAN: “It was a good day for us. I think we’re in the ballpark, it looks like we’re one change away to put it in the top 12 so I’m pretty pleased. I had a little bit of a mistake on my fastest lap so it looked a little worse than it is. It was a pretty good start and we haven’t had a good start like this in a while so we have to try to keep the guys (working) together and hopefully we’ll improve tomorrow.”
GRAHAM RAHAL: “At the end of the day we showed that the Gehl / Manitou Honda has got pace. We need to put it together a little bit better to close the gap on a couple of the Penske guys and a couple of the Andretti Autosport cars, but it’s close. You look at us at a 1:43.9 and then you look on backwards, and it’s going to be close. We should be OK. We’re changing engines tonight. Thanks to Honda and their reliability, we made it to the end of the mileage. We’ll move on to a new bullet for tomorrow.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: “It was a very average day for the No. 18 SealMaster Honda team. We just seem to be low on grip, hurting tires and the balance isn’t perfect. Mostly, we are missing grip. We tried a few things and haven’t really improved the car. So, we look at it tonight and see what can come up with tomorrow.”
SANTINO FERRUCCI: “It’s my first time driving here at Road America. The track is pretty awesome and it’s nice to be racing around here. It’s definitely a different track, it’s straightforward but very fast. It’s just taking a bit of time to get used to and feeling correct inside the car. So we have a little bit of work to do with our No.19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda, but we’ll give it another go tomorrow.”
ED JONES: “We had a few issues in Practice 1, which put us on the back foot going to Practice 2. That made things a bit more difficult, although we were super quick on black tires. We needed to make a change to the car before going on to the reds, so we waited until warm-up to put those on and we were P2. It really depends on the circumstances tomorrow, if you can get a clear lap in, but I think we should be in pretty good shape.”
SPENCER PIGOT: “We came away with a solid direction we want to go in for tomorrow, which is a big positive. We had an alright day and the car is in a decent spot, we just need to make a few more improvements overnight. We’ll get the Direct Supply Chevy faster for tomorrow.”
SIMON PAGENAUD: “We’re lacking some speed in the straightaways right now, but we’ll take a look tonight and see what might be causing that. We still went through our checklist that we needed to and with rain coming it could still be a really interesting weekend with the Menards Chevy.”
ZACH VEACH: “It was a pretty good Friday, overall. We had a lap in the first session good enough for P1, but a Red Flag came out as I crossed the line, so it didn’t count. We were P12 in Practice 2, I wasn’t too happy with the balance of the car. Then in the warmup, we made some changes to fix the issue I was fighting and came in P4. It was up and down, but I think all positive at the end of the day. We get one more practice session to make sure it’s just right – but we’ll hopefully be able to fight for the Fast Six tomorrow.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI: “I’m pretty happy with the car overall. We had speed here last year and I think we were able to build off of that and continue our progress. There’s obviously a couple tweaks we can make to capitalize on what the car has in it, but looking at all four cars, I think we have some good data and heading into tomorrow we’re optimistic that we can put the NAPA machine back on the front row.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “The DHL car was good this morning; we led the first session. Then, in the second session – since it’s only Friday – we took some big gambles on setup and we found out what not to do. We were pretty out to lunch this afternoon in P2, but then we changed some things back for the warmup and were P1 again. Sometimes it’s just as valuable to find out what does not work as it is to find out what does. Overall, we’re feeling good with our first day at Road America.”
TAKUMA SATO: “It seems that we lost pace significantly in the afternoon session and I don’t know why at the moment. I didn’t feel good in the car, it was sliding a bit too much. We tried various setup changes but it just seems like we need to work a little harder for tomorrow. It was a tough session and I don’t know whether it was the conditions or something we did. We will look at the data from the day and come back strong tomorrow.”
PATRICIO O’WARD: “I think we have a lot of positives to take out of day one at Road America. We ended the day ninth and the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet is looking really racy and competitive out there. I’m really looking forward to qualifying tomorrow. We have some work to do tonight to finalize some minor details to make sure we go faster tomorrow in qualifying and hopefully make the Firestone Fast Six.”
MAX CHILTON: “We had a fuel pressure issue in the first session that really set us back on our run plan for the day. We ended up heading back to the garage early in the first session to see what was going on and we were able to narrow it down and thankfully get the issue fixed before heading into the second session. Considering where we started the day here at Road America, I’d say we’re in pretty good shape heading into qualifying tomorrow. We’re going to need every bit of track time that we can get, but the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet feels strong and I’m looking forward to qualifying.”
JACK HARVEY: “The track is awesome especially taking my first official laps here, I just wish we could have had a better day today. Session one was tough and then we just didn’t really have that much pace in practice two. It was just one of those days that was pretty unusual for the team. It wasn’t the best day but we will reset overnight and try to be better for tomorrow.”
COLTON HERTA: “Today the car was quick, and I felt really comfortable on track. I’m pretty happy with how the day went where we ended the day in fourth position, so hopefully we can keep the momentum going and have a great weekend. The No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda guys need it. It seems like the race will be primarily based on the red tires, so that’s where we focused most of our energy on this session.”
MARCO ANDRETTI: “We’re close to where we need to be. We’ve been jumping around a bit too much with setup and need to hone in on something. But I think we found a direction, hopefully with a lot of changes. We need to build on sitting tenth and find a little more for the Firestone Fast Six – but the gap between the top 10 is so tight.”