Josef Newgarden in the No.2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet was fastest on the opening day of practice at Barber Motorsports Park on Friday.

The Tennessee native who held an emotional press conference on Friday morning to apologize for breaching INDYCAR SERIES rules which saw him disqualified from the win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg set a fastest time of 01:06.7045s stated:

It’s definitely the best medicine in the world for someone like me. “It’s great to be out here, just getting to turn laps. I was a little bit off my game in the beginning, for sure. I dropped a wheel and made a mistake and threw away a set of tires, which was unfortunate.

“We just kept going. We came up with a new plan, and I think the positive thing is the car was really fast, even when I made the mistake.”

It was a great session for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard who was fifth and speaking following the action he said:

As a team, I think we are looking extremely strong. We also expected that because we were quick here last year but the 15 (Graham Rahal) was up there with us today. In looking at the theoretical lap times, the Hy-Vee Honda was even a little faster. And we were running different things to find some weaknesses in the car. We’re looking pretty good and quite happy at the moment.”

Graham Rahal in the No.15 Hendrickson Honda was seventh and speaking following the action he said:

“It was a good run today. Typically, we are fairly competitive here but I thought it was a strong day but I also thought I left a couple tenths of a second on the table too which is a little disappointing but I just mistimed the tire. I thought the best time on the tire would be Lap 2 and did a 90 percent push on Lap 1and actually went quite quick; a low 7.1 or 7.0 and thought that was faster than I expected. Then I went for it on Lap 2 and the front tires were already kind of gone for me. We’re still quicker, still competitive but think I just missed it. Overall, it was definitely a strong day for us in the Hendrickson car.”

Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward who was handed the win in St Petersburg was second behind Newgarden and speaking following the action he said:

“I love driving around this place. It’s a track I really enjoy and always have. It’s high-commitment. We’re just going to try to get the car a little bit better for tomorrow and see if we can get it done in qualifying.”

Alexander Rossi in the No.7 VELO Chevrolet had a tricky day in 22nd and speaking following the action he said:

“That was a challenging session, and I don’t think we’re quite in the window yet. We need to look at what we are doing and how we can get things back to where we were at last month’s test. Not the way we wanted kick off the weekend, but we’ll focus on a stronger Practice 2 and qualifying.”

Thèo Pourchaire who has never competed at Barber Motorsports Park was 25th and speaking following the action he said:

“It was a smooth session. What was most important for me was to get as many laps as possible to learn the track and the car in those conditions. Everything is different from Long Beach, as the track here is very smooth with very high speeds. I need to learn the downforce and the limit of the car in those high-speed corners. Overall, I am satisfied. I had quite a bit of traffic on my alternate lap, and in the end, I think we would have been further up in the standings. It is a good start, but I need to continue building confidence. It should be a good weekend, as the car is great and Pato showed we can be quite strong here.”

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