All four of Team Penske’s Chevy-powered beasts placed in the Top 5 at the sole Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix practice, this evening at Phoenix Raceway. Josef Newgarden (No. 2 Verizon Chevy) topped his teammates and the field overall when he clocked a 192.108 lap in the last quarter of the session. Newgarden achieved his first victory with Team Penske earlier this week at Barber Motorsports Park located in Birmingham, AL.
Team Chevy showed a strong presence when they ran the five fastest laps in practice. Behind Newgarden by only .573 of a second was Ed Carpenter Racing’s JR Hildebrand (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy), who returns to racing this weekend after a last lap accident in Long Beach, where he broke a bone in his hand when he got tangled up with SPM’s Mikhail Aleshin. Hildebrand had to sit out the Barber event, with rookie Zach Veach piloting the No. 21 in his place. Hildebrand was determined to be strong enough for driving duties in time for Phoenix, a goal he achieved without issue.
Newgarden’s three Team Penske teammates, Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Rev Group), Simon Pagenaud (No. 1 Menard’s) and Will Power (No. 12 Verizon) finished out the top 5 and look to have a strong qualifying round later this evening. All three are set to have their runs in the first half of qualifying, with Power in the second slot after Chip Ganassi Racing Teams’ Charlie Kimball kicks things off in his No. 83 Tresiba Honda.
Power and Castroneves are the only drivers to win the Verizon P1 Award this season. It looks like they could be strong contenders for that same achievement on the season’s first oval as well. Tune in to the livestream this evening at 11:00 p.m. ET to find out how it all pans out, or check out the delayed television broadcast on NBCSN tomorrow evening at 7:30 p.m. ET, just before the race broadcast goes live at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Photo by Chris Owens / IndyCar
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