Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader Josef Newgarden in the No.2 Hum by Verizon Chevrolet had an extremely strong start to the final race weekend of the 2017 season.

The Tennessee native set the fastest time in both sessions on Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

Speaking following the day of action, Newgarden who goes into the weekend three points ahead of Scott Dixon commented by saying:

“I think it was a good session for us – good two sessions, really. “I feel like the Penske cars are fast. We’ve had obviously a lot of test time, more than others recently. We had (a private team test) last week and then the (series) open test Thursday as well, so it’s plenty of track time hopefully for us to sort out our stuff.

“I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job with that and I think that reflected in the times today from the whole team. We’re all pretty close and have a good handle, I think, on what we want. It’s a matter of putting that together (in qualifying) tomorrow.”

Defending series champion Simon Pagenaud in the No.1 DXC Technology Chevrolet ended the day with the combined second fastest time and speaking following the track action he commented by saying:

The car is really good. I’m very happy with how the car behaved, whether it’s on new tires or older tires, and I think our pace on older tires is best to anyone right now. So, I feel very confident that if we start up front, we can be gone. Adapting is going to be key to the race. I feel confident, yeah. I think last year, you know, obviously qualifying was the turning point on the weekend. We didn’t have the pace up until qualifying, but today and yesterday, I feel like we have the pace at any time. I’ve just got to put the lap together. If I put the lap together tomorrow, I think we’ll be challenging for pole position, and once that’s done, I’ll feel a lot more relaxed about our chance to go for the win.”

Helio Castroneves in the No.3 Hitachi Chevrolet goes into the race weekend aiming to win his first career Verizon IndyCar Series championship and speaking after posting the third fastest time of day the Brazilian commented by saying:

We had a strong No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet today. My guys have done a great job giving me a fast car. We definitely found speed but still have some areas we can improve on to get a little more out of the car. Qualifying is really key here at Sonoma, so we’re going to try some things in the practice session tomorrow that we hope to apply to qualifying and see what happens.”

Will Power in the No.12 Verizon Chevrolet ended the day with the combined fourth fastest time overall and speaking following the action the Australian said:

It was a good day for the Verizon Chevy. We had good speed in the car. For those wondering, I didn’t have any problems with the knee. I don’t even notice it. In the car, my knee is bent, and I haven’t had any problems with it bent at all. Anyway, I liked the balance of the car and feel good heading into tomorrow. We’ll work toward a good qualifying session. As I’ve said, we can only control our situation and the plan is to win the pole and win the race, then we’ll see where it all falls at the end.”

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