The NTT IndyCar Series is back at it again for Round 2 of the 2021 season in St Petersburg, Florida. Teams and drivers got a taste of the street course during a 45-minute afternoon practice session that was interrupted by an issue with the timing and scoring system. Rookies were able to hit the pavement about 15 minutes later when the issues were resolved.
After a disastrous start to the season, Josef Newgarden got straight to business on Friday by putting in the fastest lap of the day at 60.8029 seconds in his No. 2 Chevrolet. The Team Penske driver is hoping to rebound his title hopes after failing to even get one lap in during last weekend’s season-opening race at Barber Motorsports Park.
Friday Combined Practice Results
The action was tight behind him, with teammate Will Power finishing .007 seconds behind. Colton Herta was third-fastest in his Andretti Autosport Honda, followed by teammate Alexander Rossi. Rounding out the top five in the practice session was Simon Pagenaud in his No. 22 Chevrolet which was decked out in an all-gold livery.
Roger Penske’s team had all four of their cars inside the top eight on Friday, while Scott Dixon (6th) was the only Ganassi driver to finish inside the top ten. Both Arrow McLaren SP drivers secured a spot in the top nine while RLL Racing’s Graham Rahal rounded out the top ten. Romain Grosjean and Jimmie Johnson put down the most laps on Friday with 26, as both rookie drivers prepare for their first street race at St Petersburg.
Alex Palou, who won the season-opener last weekend was 20th in Friday’s practice. The session was just another prime example of how close the competition is this year. The slightest mistake can take a driver from the front of the field to the back in the blink of an eye.
There will be another 45-minute practice session tomorrow morning at 9:45 ET, followed by qualifying for the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg, which begins at 1:45 PM. Qualifications will air live on Peacock and be shown on NBC Sports Network at 10 PM.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar