Following yesterday’s open test at Laguna Seca, Andretti Autosport may have found something on the 2.238-mile course. Ryan Hunter-Reay was fastest overall on Friday, which was the first official practice day for the season-finale this weekend. The American narrowly edged out Felix Rosenqvist for the top spot on the chart. Colton Herta was third-fastest on Friday, with Alexander Rossi fourth overall in his No. 27 Andretti machine.
Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top five in overall practice and was the highest-ranking Chevrolet driver. The Team Penske driver is aiming for his second title this weekend and knows that the Firestone tires will be key during qualifying tomorrow. “It looks like [the times will come] on lap two on the reds, and it looks like you only get one lap,” he said.
Friday Combined Practice Results
Rossi missed significant time on the track today after a bolt broke on his car during the morning practice session. He only managed to get four laps in the first session, and 28 total for the day. “We kind of sacrificed the second session to try and get as many runs in as we could to go through a checklist,” Rossi said. “We saved the new reds, so I think we’re getting there. We used Thursday’s test to make sure we leave no stones unturned. I think we’ve flipped most of the stones. There’s a couple more to come tomorrow morning, but we’re just trying to make sure we have everything squared away for qualifying and the race.” Rossi could finish runner-up in the championship for the second straight season.
The three impressive rookies that are battling for the Rookie of the Year were all fast on Friday. They were all inside the top six overall, and Herta led the morning practice session. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for him though, as he found the dirt towards the end of that session. Rosenqvist currently leads Ferrucci by 26 points, and Herta is 49 points back.
Championship leader Josef Newgarden ended up seventh fastest overall on Friday, just ahead of five-time champion Scott Dixon. Newgarden has a 41-point advantage over Rossi going into the double points-paying race. Qualifying will be key, as 12 of the 23 races have been won from pole. The pole-sitter will also receive one championship point.
There will be one final 45-minute practice session tomorrow at 1 PM ET, followed by qualifying for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, which begins at 4:35 PM ET. NBC Sports Network will provide live coverage of qualifications.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar