Newgarden stays on top in 2nd IndyCar practice (Update)

Newgarden dominating Road America so-far
Newgarden dominating Road America so-far

UPDATE This report was updated with additional information and photos.

06/22/18

Josef Newgarden loves natural terrain road courses like Barber Motorsports Park and here at Road America. Newgarden, fastest in practice 1 on the harder Firestone black tires, turned a lap of 1m42.628s to lead practice 2 for the Kohler GP at Road America on the 4.04-mile road course

Robert Wickens was 2nd quick in his Honda 0.2746s behind while Sebastien Bourdais was third quick 0.3741s behind the #1 Penske car.

Newgarden's Penske teammates Simon Pagenaud and Will Power rounded out the top-5.

"I think we are relatively pleased," the 27-year-old Newgarden said. "The car has been easy to work with, which is great. It is nice when you don't have to change too much.

"We've been trying things to make sure we understand sort of both ends of the car and where it can go if we adjust either end of it. Seems quick right out of the box; we haven't had to do too much with it. The Chevy package is working really well, which I felt like it would be strong at this kind of track."

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie Robert Wickens was second on the combined session timesheet with a lap of 1:42.9025 (140.428 mph) in the No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda. It was a year ago that Wickens – then a full-time driver in the DTM touring car series in Europe – filled in for an absent Mikhail Aleshin in practice at Road America, leading to his Verizon IndyCar Series ride this season.

"I think it was a pretty decent Friday," Wickens said. "The Lucas Oil car feels good and we're making good progress. We were top five in both sessions, but it's only Friday so we still have to work hard and keep our heads down. Initial signs are pretty positive for, hopefully, a good weekend."

Sebastien Bourdais, the 2007 Road America winner, was third overall at 1:43.0020 (140.292 mph) in the No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda, with 2016 Road America victor Will Power fourth in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet (1:43.0545, 140.221 mph).

"Pretty happy with the day," said Bourdais, winner of the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. "Our guys did a good job. The Firestone (alternate) red tires are definitely giving a huge amount of grip in comparison to the prime (tire specification). But for us, it really wasn't much of a balance change, so that was nice. (I) could definitely get a pretty decent run. Consistency was quite good as well."

The lone incident of the day came early in the second practice and involved Alfonso Celis Jr., making his Verizon IndyCar Series debut this weekend. Celis slid off course in the No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet and went for a wild, sliding, bouncing ride before backing into a tire barrier at Turn 12. The former test driver in Formula One was uninjured but his car was unable to finish the session.

A final 45-minute practice starts at noon ET Saturday. Three rounds of knockout qualifying begin at 4 p.m. to decide the Verizon P1 Award pole winner. Practice and qualifying will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, youtube.com/indycar and the INDYCAR Mobile app. NBCSN airs a same-day telecast of qualifying at 6:30 p.m.

The KOHLER Grand Prix, the 10th of 17 races on the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, airs live at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Quotes

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "I think we are relatively pleased. The car has been easy to work with, which is great. It is nice when you don't have to change too much. We've been trying things to make sure we understand sort of both ends of the car and where it can go if we adjust either end of it. Seems quick right out of the box. We haven't had to do too much with it. The Chevy package is working really well, which I felt like it would be strong at this kind of track. We've been working hard with that group to make sure our power down and everything else is great. So far, so good with the Verizon car. We have a solid start; we just have to maintain it throughout the weekend.'

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): "Pretty productive day. Obviously, we tested here last week, which I think helped us roll off with a solid car. For Practice 2, we decided to go in a little different direction with our setup, just to try and cover our bases, so we have a lot of data to look over tonight. We have pretty good pace on the blacks (primary Firestone tires) and were into the top five, but when we put the reds (alternate Firestone tires) on, we just didn't find the grip that we normally do; we'll look into that. This Arrow Electronics SPM team's got a way of turning things around and being strong in qualifying, so hopefully, we can do that and get the job done tomorrow."

Wickens was 2nd quick
Wickens was 2nd quick

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): "I think it was a pretty decent Friday. The Lucas Oil car feels good and we're making good progress. We were top five in both sessions, but it's only Friday, so we still have to work hard and keep our heads down. Initial signs are pretty positive for, hopefully, a good weekend."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "I think we started a little bit slow for some reason and had some work to do after the first practice session here at Road America. We know our way around here though, and after some changes tonight, I hope we can have the PNC Bank car pointed in the right direction, and closer to the top time the other manufacturer set."

ED JONES (No. 10 First Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "I'm obviously not thrilled with the results today with the First Data Honda, but we know Scott (Dixon) had a great car here last year and won the race, so there is good data to look at tonight. We have some work to do for sure, but I'm confident in our team that we can find what we were missing today in practice and be ready for qualifying tomorrow."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet):
"We definitely changed the setup a bit, then went back. I think the track had really low grip at the beginning of every session, then got better. Kind of a little bit hard to pick what to do. But obviously, Josef (Newgarden) is really quick, so got plenty of data to look at. We'll just keep working away at it."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 GEHL Honda): "It was a good finish to the day for the GEHL team. We pushed hard and made some changes between the sessions and I think we went the right direction. This morning we had some mishaps, and unfortunately, it lost us the session, but we had a good recovery. We'll try to keep improving the car a little bit and see what we can do in qualifying."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team Sealmaster Honda): "(I'm) pretty happy. I think, obviously, we didn't test, a couple of guys did. Felt a little bit off this morning. We're pretty confident because it was just mostly understeer in the car. Just pretty happy with the day. Our guys did a good job. The Firestone red (alternate) tires are definitely giving a huge amount of grip in comparison to the prime. But for us, it really wasn't much of a balance change, so that was nice. Could definitely get a pretty decent run. Consistency was quite good, as well. Looking forward to the rest of the weekend."

De Melo in the #19 Dale Coyne Honda
De Melo in the #19 Dale Coyne Honda

ZACHARY CLAMAN DE MELO (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): "It's awesome driving an Indy car here. I love the Road America track and I'm excited to be back here. We had a tough second session today in our Paysafe car, but we made big improvements from our first practice, which is really encouraging. What Sebastien (Bourdais) has seems to be working really well, so we'll look at that and also at what I need to work on to improve. With that and some steady improvements, we should be looking good for tomorrow."

JORDAN KING (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet):
"It is quite difficult to learn the circuit, relative to others that I have driven on. For example, St. Pete, it just felt a little bit easier to pick up the smaller parts. I feel quite comfortable in the car now, but it took a bit longer to get there in this morning's session. It's a longer circuit and requires a lot of confidence with the high speed and blind corners; when it's only 45 minutes, you end up eating into your track time. I felt quite good in this afternoon's session and we have a better idea of what direction we want to go in. A little bit annoying we haven't quite jumped on it straight away, still a bit of progress to be made. Looking forward to having a good night's sleep. I always find that when you are able to chill out, think about it, and sleep well it makes the second day much nicer. We all know where we need to go with the car and should be quicker tomorrow."

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Direct Supply Chevrolet): "It was a pretty difficult day for us. We are kind of struggling to zero in on the balance and the setup that we want. We know what we need the car to do, we just have to try and find a way of getting it there. We are going to try and find some things overnight, then get the Direct Supply car handling a bit better and get more speed out of it tomorrow."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet):
"We've made big improvement this weekend. It is obviously another very important weekend with Menards on the car. This is John's (Menard) country here. I am eager to do very well, and the whole No. 22 team is using the momentum we gained at Texas. It feels like a really good weekend so far. I think we have more in the car; I didn't extract all the best out of during practice. But, it felt really good. Chevy is giving us a lot of power around here which is always useful on those long straightaways. Now we are just going to have to put it all together in qualifying tomorrow."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet): "Obviously, that wasn't the day we wanted for the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet. We're struggling for balance and grip-a little bit of both. But we've got some good ideas, good data to look through and some concepts to think about. We'll make solid, reasonable, intelligent changes for tomorrow. Hopefully, we can pick a good direction out of that and be ready for qualifying."

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Relay Group 1001 Honda): "Overall, it was a pretty good day for us in the Relay car. We know, confidently, that we have a car good enough to be in the top 10, maybe in the top six. We're fighting a bit of an issue throughout the second session, but we know what that is, so we'll fix it and get the speed we need tomorrow. I haven't felt this confident in an Indy car yet – but I said that at Detroit and I said that at Texas. I really just feel like we are coming into our own and this is going to be our best weekend yet."

Kanaan leads Hunter-Reay.  The Andretti team is out to lunch so far
Kanaan leads Hunter-Reay's Andretti Honda. The Andretti team is out to lunch so far

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): "Today wasn't the best Friday that we've had. I think we are stepping through changes and making small improvements, but we didn't find the big improvement that we need, which is disappointing. Fortunately, we have another session tomorrow and three teammate cars to try and put our heads together and come up with a solution. Right now, we need a pretty big step in performance to be fighting for pole."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "We made some progress with the DHL car today, we need to make another step tomorrow. We didn't really have a clear lap, but if we had, I think we would have been around P4 or P5 and we can work from there. We'll put our heads down tonight, check in with the teammates and see where we are at tomorrow. We have one more session before qualifying and we'll put it to good use."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): "It was a good day, a productive one. We wanted to improve a little more than we did in the second session, but overall, we tried a few things and we learned a few good things and a few not so good. I think we can continue improving for tomorrow."

ALFONSO CELIS JR. (No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet): "Today was going pretty well until the last practice. The day started off well for us. I was happy with the balance and I am still happy with the balance. We worked on some changes and I was happy with the direction we were going in. The second practice was going pretty good up until my incident. It is really unfortunate we have now lost this track time, but we will work hard and bounce back for tomorrow."

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): "It was a challenging day at the office here at Road America for the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet. This is one of my favorite tracks – I know I can pedal a car around here pretty well. We were fighting for top six last year, so I'm trying to just drive the same, obviously, with less downforce. We've got an underlying balance issue – whether it's new tires or old tires, it's really just wherever we are, we've got the same issue that we just can't seem to iron out. It's slightly frustrating for a new team with the lack of testing we've been able to do, so we've got limited time to try and sort it. We'll work it out tonight and if we can make some significant progress toward the end of FP3, I'm sure we can have a fairly decent qualifying."

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): "Road America is a great track and a lot of fun. Today was a bit challenging, as we are just working through our plan, but we found a big chunk of time between Practice 1 and Practice 2 today. That is very encouraging as we get ready for Practice 3 tomorrow. There are some things we are going to try out and that will hopefully take us to the next step to doing a great job in qualifying and then the race."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda): "I was definitely happier with the car this morning. We kind of went in a different direction for the afternoon session and lost the car. We definitely have a clear direction on where we need to go and we'll put that to use to go forward tomorrow with the U.S. Concrete car."

Practice 2 Results

Pos No Name FTime Diff Gap Laps FSpeed Engine Team
1 1 Josef Newgarden 1:42.628 –.—- –.—- 22 140.804 Chevy Team Penske
2 6 Robert Wickens 1:42.903 0.2746 0.2746 18 140.428 Honda Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
3 18 Sebastien Bourdais 1:43.002 0.3741 0.0995 16 140.292 Honda Dale Coyne Racing with VS
4 12 Will Power 1:43.055 0.4266 0.0525 19 140.221 Chevy Team Penske
5 22 Simon Pagenaud 1:43.160 0.5320 0.1054 19 140.078 Chevy Team Penske
6 15 Graham Rahal 1:43.200 0.5716 0.0396 17 140.024 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
7 9 Scott Dixon 1:43.421 0.7933 0.2217 19 139.724 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
8 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 1:43.475 0.8476 0.0543 15 139.650 Honda Andretti Autosport
9 30 Takuma Sato 1:43.541 0.9131 0.0655 15 139.562 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
10 98 Marco Andretti 1:43.622 0.9942 0.0811 14 139.453 Honda Andretti Herta Autosport with CA
11 14 Tony Kanaan 1:43.656 1.0280 0.0338 16 139.407 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
12 27 Alexander Rossi 1:43.667 1.0387 0.0107 15 139.393 Honda Andretti Autosport
13 5 James Hinchcliffe 1:43.690 1.0620 0.0233 14 139.362 Honda Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
14 26 Zach Veach 1:43.909 1.2809 0.2189 14 139.068 Honda Andretti Autosport
15 19 Zachary De Melo 1:43.920 1.2925 0.0116 16 139.053 Honda Dale Coyne Racing
16 20 Jordan King 1:43.948 1.3196 0.0271 18 139.016 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
17 21 Spencer Pigot 1:44.148 1.5199 0.2003 15 138.749 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
18 10 Ed Jones 1:44.187 1.5590 0.0391 18 138.697 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
19 4 Matheus Leist 1:44.208 1.5804 0.0214 20 138.668 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
20 59 Max Chilton 1:44.422 1.7945 0.2141 18 138.384 Chevy Carlin
21 88 Gabby Chaves 1:44.463 1.8349 0.0404 20 138.331 Chevy Harding Racing
22 23 Charlie Kimball 1:45.136 2.5084 0.6735 18 137.444 Chevy Carlin
23 32 Alfonso Celis Jr 1:46.159 2.3948 0.2590 3 136.120 Chevy Juncos Racing

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