Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden in the No.2 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet kicked off his Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car course in strong fashion as the Tennessee native who took victory in Toronto last time out set the second fastest time overall on the opening day of track action.
Newgarden set a fastest time of 01:04.4375s and speaking following the session he commented by saying:
I think we had a pretty good session. It’s fun driving the PPG car. It’s my first time driving it. Simon (Pagenaud) had a lot of good luck in it last year. I think he won three races in this car. I’m excited to drive it – looks good, feels fast. We were quick in the first session, too. We ended up seventh. But this track is such a game of when you run, you know, where in the tire life you are at what stage of the session. The track just keeps getting quicker and quicker as you run. You got to be the last man standing here almost. I think that’s going to be the case tomorrow in qualifying. You got to try and time everything as best you can, be the last person across the line. For us, I think we’ve had some good success this year on road courses. We probably could have had even more success at a couple other places that didn’t fully materialize. But I think we’re there, thereabouts. I think the whole group at Team Penske is fast. We have to make sure to stay on top of it as always and not let something good slip away. We have good cars this weekend. We have to try to capitalize on that.
Reigning series champion Simon Pagenaud in the No.1 Menards Chevrolet finished the day in fourth place with a fastest time of 01:04.5625s and speaking following the day of action, the Frenchman and defending Ohio race winner commented by saying:
The Menards Chevy was good today. We were able to fine tune a few things throughout the day. We had good speed in the car, but it’s a matter of getting the balance right. Our knowledge base is good for the track. We had good success a year ago. It’s nice for me to feel better physically this year. I had a little tweak of my back here last year that made it a pretty difficult weekend, but this year all is well. I’m looking forward to qualifying tomorrow. It’s such a chess match here and that’s a fun challenge.
Will Power in the No.12 Verizon Chevrolet ended the day in sixth place with a fastest time of 01:04.6828s and speaking following the session he commented by saying:
It was a good day for the Verizon Chevrolet team. We felt like we’re in a good place in terms of spend and balance. Mid-Ohio is a track that is on my list. I’ve not gotten a win here and I really want to change that. We’ve been on the pole here, been up front and led laps, but haven’t gotten the win. We’ll see what qualifying brings tomorrow, but you don’t want to be too far back here or it becomes very difficult to get into position to win.
Championship contender Helio Castroneves in the No.3 Hitachi Chevrolet finished the day in 9th place and speaking following the day of action he commented by saying:
We accomplished a lot today with the Hitachi Chevy – lots of good data to help us make the car even better. It’s important in this series to keep working at it. If you don’t, then you get passed by. I feel good about how the car was today and how it will be tomorrow. Qualifying is extremely important here, so we’ll have to be on top of our game.