Alexander Rossi paced the field this morning for the first Verizon IndyCar Series practice of the Kohler Grand Prix weekend at Road America. The sophomore year driver ran 1:43.3285 lap, edging out Simon Pagenaud’s best lap of 1:43.5625.
Rossi, driver of the No. 98 Napa Andretti Honda, has one win to his name and it may be the most prestigious race win title, as it was that of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. He hasn’t landed a Verizon P1 Award yet and while it’s still a bit too early in his career to tell if he will excel primarily on oval or road & street, his best qualifying effort was P7 at a super speedway, Pocono Raceway, over last year’s rainy weekend.
He seems to have found something today that dialed the car in right where they wanted it, which could be a good sign for qualifying tomorrow afternoon. Could we see him make a run for pole? I’m not sure, seeing as how Pagenaud was leading the attack by Penske in his bright yellow No. 1 Menard’s Chevy, with Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Chevy) and Josef Newgarden (No. 2 Devilbiss Chevy) running P3 and P4. Team Penske could show dominance for the second year in a row here.
In 2016, upon the series return to the beloved track, Power went from green to checkered in P1 the entire time. Only giving up the lead for 2 laps during pit stop cycles, and those were to teammate Simon Pagenaud. Road America is where Power’s run for a second Championship kicked into gear that last season. It ultimately eluded him, and that made him even more determined this year. There is no clear-cut front-runner for the Championship in 2017 with Scott Dixon (No. 9 NTT Data Ganassi Chevy) leading the pack earning 326 points so far. He’s only 13 points ahead of Pagenaud. Takuma Sato follows in P3, just a point behind Pagenaud thanks to those double points for the Indianapolis 500 win. Helio Castroneves (No. 3 REV Group Penske Chevy) and Power round out the Top 5 with only 40 points separating that group of drivers.
The sole incident in Friday’s morning session involved the No. 28 DHL Andretti Honda of Ryan Hunter-Reay. He lost it in Turn 14, getting sideways and making impact with the tire wall. Holmatro responded as quickly as ever and we’re able to get him restarted and back on track. The car suffered minor damage.
The second practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series at Road America will take place this afternoon at 3:15 p.m. CT / 4:15 p.m. ET. The session will be livestreamed by the series and as always, you can find all the links your heart desires right here on Live Full Throttle by clicking “Livestream” below the logo at the top of any page, or by simply clicking here. Make sure you save the page or link for quick access to those links no matter where you happen to be on IndyCar race weekends.
Photo credit: Matt Fraver/IndyCar