Team Penske newcomer Josef Newgarden in the No.2 Verizon Chevrolet had a good start to his 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season at the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg where in the opening session on Friday morning he ended up in 15th place having completed 13 laps.
In the afternoon session, Newgarden improved dramatically as he ended the day in sixth place just behind Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais and speaking following Friday’s action he commented by saying:
It was a good day for the Verizon Chevy team overall. We learned this morning that we had some work to do and I think we improved in the second session. The track behaves a little different in spots, so that was something to get used to. We’ll go back to work tomorrow and get into a good place for qualifying.
In the opening session on Friday morning, reigning series champion Simon Pagenaud in the No.1 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet ended up in fifth place having completed 15 laps while in the second session the Frenchman set the ninth fastest time with a 01:03.1462s and speaking after completing ten laps he commented by saying:
I feel good about the PPG Chevrolet. I think we made good progress throughout the sessions and collected a lot of good data. There is more speed to find and I feel we’ll be able to do that and be ready for the qualifying session. It’s important to qualify well to make race day a little easier. It’s awesome to be at the track again for an actual event. The atmosphere here is tremendous.
In the opening session, Will Power in the No.12 Verizon Chevrolet hit the wall but was able to get the car back to pit-road on his own and ended the session with the 11th fastest time while in the second session he ended the afternoon in second place and speaking following his day in the car, the Australian commented by saying:
It was about the same lap I (crashed) last year, can’t believe I got in the wall again. It was a good session (in the afternoon). Definitely made some progress on the car. Great to be here. Great to start the season off. A pretty long offseason. Yeah, the grid looks pretty nicely mixed up there with Honda and Chevy, great competition.
Helio Castroneves in the No.3 Hitachi Chevrolet ended the opening session in seventh place while in the second session, the Brazilian set the 12th fastest time and speaking following his time in the car, Castroneves commented by saying:
It felt really great to get into the Hitachi Chevrolet today. The day went well. We had some learning to do with the track, but that got all worked out. I’m just excited to get the season underway.