Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud was the pace setter in the No.1 DXC Technology Chevrolet during a pre-event test ahead of Sunday’s Verizon IndyCar Series season finale GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Pagenaud set a fastest time of 01:16.6511s completing 34 laps and ending the day just ahead of his team mate’s Helio Castroneves and Will Power.
Sebastien Bourdais was the fastest Honda powered driver in fourth place for Dale Coyne Racing in the No.18 Unifin Honda. The Frenchman is aiming for a strong end to a tough season.
Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi in the No.98 NAPA Auto Parts with Curb Honda was fifth just ahead of championship contender Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing in the No.9 NTT DATA Honda. Dixon heads into this weekend’s race just three points behind leader Josef Newgarden.
Ryan Hunter Reay in the No.28 DHL Honda was seventh fastest just ahead of Graham Rahal in the No.15 Honda.
Series points leader Josef Newgarden ended the day in ninth place just ahead of Marco Andretti who rounded out the top ten in the No.27 UFD Honda. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan was 11th fastest in the No.10 NTT DATA ending the session just ahead of JR Hildebrand who will not race in the No.21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet next season.
Ed Jones who it was announced on Friday is the 2017 Sunoco Rookie Of The Year ended the session in 13th place just ahead of James Hinchcliffe in the No.5 Arrow Electronics Honda.
Takuma Sato was 15th fastest despite bringing out the red flag during the day. Carlos Munoz was 16th in the No.14 ABC Supply Chevrolet ending the session just ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball and Max Chilton.
Jack Harvey was 19th in the No.7 AutoNation Sirius XM Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Zachery Claman DeMelo who makes his debut in the Verizon IndyCar Series this weekend ended Thursday’s session in 20th place just ahead of Conor Daly of AJ Foyt Racing while Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot rounded out the session following an issue with the No.20 Chevrolet.
Speaking following the session, Simon Pagenaud commented by saying:
We had a great day today,” said Pagenaud, who won the 2016 Sonoma race from the pole position to clinch the championship. “We wanted to explore a direction. We have a new Firestone tire this year, so we have to forget a little bit about what we did last year and be curious and try things.
“It was a very interesting session. The car feels really good, I feel really good. Everyone feels really excited in the group. It’s fun so far.
Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais commented by saying:
“I was hoping to kind of hit the ground running. “Was pretty disappointed this morning, didn’t really feel we were where we thought we’d be or where we wanted to be. Didn’t really change (the car) much, but the conditions kept changing around, the wind changed, the grip changed and it kind of put the car back in the window a little bit. Then we had a couple of good laps this afternoon.”
Alexander Rossi commented by saying:
“I feel like we have a pretty decent car with us. “We’re missing a little right now, but we’re in the window, so it’s all right.
“We knew that our baseline car was pretty decent, so we tried some things today. They weren’t the right direction, so we came back to a baseline car at the end of the day. It was P5.