Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion and three time Watkins Glen winner Scott Dixon was the man to beat on the opening day of practice on Friday.
The New Zealander set a combined fastest time of 01:22.8740s. Speaking following the day of action he commented by saying:
What a new track surface does is reduce the difference of having rubber down. When you get a big rainfall, the loss of speed is not as wide the next morning. Even at the test here, we ran about a second slower because it was a lot hotter, but whatever the conditions, the new surface will produce the kind of speeds we’re doing now. The Target car is fast and it’s been a good start to the weekend. I hope we can carry on through to the race.
Tony Kanaan in the No.10 NTT DATA Chevrolet was fourth fastest with a fastest time of 01:23.1692s, speaking following the day of action he commented by saying:
It felt really good to be back on-track at Watkins Glen – this place is just so fast. The No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet was really good today and we were able to get a lot out of the car in both sessions. We got a lot of track time today, especially in that second session, and we were able to take some bigger swings trying some different things out on-track without feeling the pressure of not having enough time. I’m one of the drivers out there that has had the opportunity to race here before with the series, but I’m actually not sure that’s a major benefit. The cars are so different now and where the new guys are able to learn as they go, I have to get old observations about this track out of my head because they just don’t apply anymore.
Max Chilton rounded out the top ten and speaking following the day of action he commented by saying:
I’m pretty happy with the start to the weekend in the Gallagher car. This track is very fast and smooth and it’s very similar to the tracks I’ve run in Europe. It’s very challenging physically and definitely a rhythm track. Scott is fast for sure, so I’m sure the team has a lot of data to look over tonight. I hope we can continue to translate what we learned today into more speed for tomorrow.
Charlie Kimball had a tough day as he suffered a mechanical issue with the No.83 Tresiba® Chevrolet ending the day in 18th place just behind Conor Daly. Speaking following the day of action he commented by saying:
It was unfortunate that we had a mechanical failure at the right rear, but fortunately we caught it in pit lane and didn’t lead to anything bad on-track. I know the 83 crew will fix it overnight and be ready for practice tomorrow. We can obviously learn from my teammates (Dixon, Kanaan) after they both finished P1 and P4 in that second session. Max is doing a really good job as well, so everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing has a lot of confidence this weekend. We’ll make it a little better tonight, fine tune it at tomorrow morning’s practice, and hopefully get the job done in qualifying.