Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta in the No.26 Gainbridge Honda stayed top of the timesheets on Thursday afternoon as the opening day of NTT IndyCar Series Spring Training finished up at the Thermal Club.
Speaking after setting a time of 01:393721s and speaking following the action he said:
Just a lot of knocking the rust off. “It’s really good to get the team back into it, get all the boys working again and just get everybody back into the flow. It’s nice to be back in a car. It’s a fun track to drive.
Christian Lundgaard, the 2022 series Rookie of the Year, started his second full season with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing by ending up second in the No. 45 Honda at 1:39.3767, just .0046 of a second behind Herta.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou in the No.10 American Legion Honda was third fastest with the 2021 series champion ending the day just ahead of Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean and defending Series champion Will Power.
Alex Palou said:
The track was really fun. It’s the first time for everyone in the paddock and you just don’t know how it will be, but it’s an amazing course with lots of high and low speed corners. It was a good day and we tested a lot of things. Of course, you always want more but we got quite a lot of laps and we were fast. We’re happy so far. We need to find a bit more speed, but so does everybody. We started strong and found a few things that we were trying to find in the winter.”
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon in the No.9 PNC Bank Honda was sixth with a time of 01:39.6211s and speaking following the action he said:
“It was a decent day and I felt like everything ran smoothly. We had some pretty long downtimes, but got through a couple sets of tires. The car felt very comfortable. I think all four of us had pretty good speed when we needed to. Pretty happy with how the process went. We got through a lot of big ticket items on car set-up to help us prepare for the season.”
Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott was seventh with a time of 01:39.6673s and speaking following the action he said:
Yeah, starting off I was getting used to the circuit, also the team. It was all right. Not as good as him. I think he set a great lap straightaway.
Coming into the afternoon we had a couple items we needed to test and get through.
It was good. I like this place. It’s a big mix of slow speed, long corners, high speed. I think not very forgiving if you do go wrong. No one has put in the wall yet. That’s a good sign.
Scott McLaughlin in the No.3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet was eighth just ahead of Simon Pagenaud and Marcus Armstrong who impressed on his full field test debut rounding out the top ten and speaking following the action he said:
Today went quite well, I think. We did a lot of laps and accomplished a lot in terms of getting to know the differences between a few options on the car. I felt really confident in the No. 11 Honda with the way the car moves; I can really feel it well. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow because now I have some experience on what to expect.”
Rinus VeeKay was 11th just ahead of defending Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson who picked up his Baby Borg Warner trophy on Thursday night and speaking following the on track action he said:
First of all, it was great to be back in the car. It’d been a while, and it was great to be driving an INDYCAR again. We didn’t do that many laps in the morning, but got a few more laps in the afternoon. The track was pretty good and it is fun to be out here. There were certainly some challenging aspects. For us, we went through our program and got through everything we needed to do for today. We’ll be able to analyze tonight and work through more things tomorrow. But it was a very positive day today.”
Devlin DeFrancesco was 13th just ahead of David Malukas and Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward while Kyle Kirkwood was 15th.
Alexander Rossi ended the day just behind his teammate Pato O’Ward while Josef Newgarden was P18 just ahead of Jack Harvey while Felix Rosenqvist in the No.6 NTT DATA Arrow McLaren Chevrolet rounded out the top 20.
Agustin Canapino was 21st for Juncos Hollinger Racing just ahead of Graham Rahal and Conor Daly.
Santino Ferrucci was 24th just ahead of Helio Castroneves and Dale Coyne Racing’s Sting Ray Robb.
Benjamin Pedersen rounded out the order for AJ Foyt Racing.
Less than one second separated the top 18 drivers today overal.