IndyCar: Pato O’Ward tops Practice 1 for Detroit GP

In a session interrupted by eight Red Flags, yes, eight, Arrow McLaren driver Pato O’Ward turned the fastest lap of 1m03.077ss (93.885mph) to top opening Detroit GP IndyCar practice on the teeth-rattling downtown streets.

The track is so washboard, one has to wonder how IndyCar ever approved it.  Everyone loves the challenge of a new track, but I think some drivers wish they were back on Belle Island, a much better racetrack than this bumpy street circuit.

The drivers were spinning off, missing their braking points, and Helio Castroneves said he hit bumps so bad it caused his Honda engine to over-rev, and it has to be changed.

Scott Dixon was 2nd fastest, just 0.0986s behind in his Ganassi Honda. “Definitely a pretty wild track, a lot of fun, quite bumpy, but a lot of character. Definitely a tough session – short lap, short track, hard to get position, especially when you’re going from blacks to the alternate tires, but decent run – the car’s got some great speed in it. Finished up in P2, hopefully some room for improvement.”

O’Ward’s teammate, Alexander Rossi was 3rd, 0.285s back.

Kyle Kirkwood again showed why he is the best driver on the Andretti Autosport team with a 4th-best time, 0.44s back.

Alex Palou rounded out the top-5 for Ganassi Racing. “Very challenging new track for everybody – it’s too bumpy, very narrow, but it’s the same for all the cars out there. It was quite fun once we got going and we were really busy trying the new limits. Big difference between tire compounds, which I think is good and is going to play a big difference in strategies. The No. 10 Ridgeline Lubricants car is fast so good start so far.”

Double Lane Pit lane


Pato O’Ward

The fastest driver in this session was confident with this run.

“It’s definitely a unique track. I think it has a lot of characteristics from all the other street courses that we go to in terms of, like, pavements, certain type of corners.”

“Yeah, we rolled off strong. I think there’s a lot of first times, first time here, first time with the double pit lane. I think that’s going to be interesting in the race with the blend line where it is. I think the pit exit is going to be something to look out for in both qualifying, like impeding. I don’t know if they’re going to mark it as impeding but it definitely gets you out of place if someone is sent there while you’re on a flyer.”

” It’s so competitive. In some sessions, I think you’ll see it being dominated by maybe one manufacturer, but the next session can shift. It really depends on how hard you work with your engineers to kind of get the thing to your liking, obviously work with your manufacturers, in our case Chevy, to really try to maximize.”

“The bumps make it a challenge in downshifting, upshifting, power-downs, all those different scenarios. It’s definitely a strong start, but it’s too early to tell. We need to keep our heads down and keep pushing because everybody is going to make their car go faster.”

“I think Belle Isle was an easier track, with a lot more fast corners.  Here there’s really one, and that is turn two. It really isn’t that fast. Like Belle Isle turn one and two, the last corner, those are fricking fast corners to be in a street course, with a lot of bumps.”

“I’m a very big fan of Belle Isle. I was very sad to see it leave the calendar. But it’s a different track. It’s a new track. It’s going to be a great event. ”

Felix Rosenqvist

Felix Rosenqvist      Photo courtesy of Penske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski

O’Ward’s teammate, Felix Rosenqvist was asked his feelings on how the split pit lane will work this weekend.

“I mean, I always felt when the sessions started, there were quite a lot of cars coming in, four-wide, into how do you say the funneling section? It’s kind of unique in that way because you have the pit speed limit off section is way further, like after the funnel.  We’re
going to have to figure out who’s going first in there. I think there’s going to be some situations where people probably don’t want to lift.”

“Yeah, I mean, that’s kind of what INDYCAR is, that we battle it out on track. I think that’s pretty cool. Yeah, let’s hope it doesn’t crash us in pit lane.”

“I think this track is probably the most important in terms of damping. That’s pretty much the biggest tool we have to work with mechanical grip. Yeah, we don’t have, I don’t think I’ve even talked about aero today with my engineer, front wing, anything like that, because there’s only one corner where you really feel it.”

“It’s a different challenge. I think these cars, they have quite a lot of downforce. Normally there’s a lot of emphasis on making the things efficient with downforce and drag and such things. But here it’s just like the more mechanical grip the better. It’s kind of back to go-kart days in that sense.”

Kyle Kirkwood

Kyle Kirkwood    Photo courtesy of Penske Entertainment/James Black

Kyle Kirkwood, the fastest Andretti Autosport driver in the first practice session, had something interesting to say about the double pit lane.

“In my mindset, it’s very safe. That’s the most important part. It seems like pit exit was a concern for everyone yesterday, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be that big of an issue. I think everyone’s pretty calm though on exit.  It’s pretty easy to see a car coming out.”

“To be honest, you can’t really see the car that’s on track so you’re very reliant on the car that’s on track to kind of give way, for you to just kind of stay out of the way. That was more the concern than the double pit lane. I think the double pit lane has been absolutely fine.”

The American was asked where he thought passing would happen on the track.

“Yeah, I really don’t see a lot of opportunity without it creating carnage.  Like you can pass into one, you can pass into eight, you might be able to pass into five, but you’re not going to be able to go double file through there. I think the outside guy is going to go into
the wall in a few of places that people will try and pass, to be honest.”

Practice 1 Results

Pos No Name Time Behind Gap FL Laps Speed Engine Team
1 5 Pato O’Ward 1:03.0773 0.000s 0.000s 28 33 93.885 Chevy Arrow McLaren
2 9 Scott Dixon 1:03.1759 0.0986 0.0986 30 33 93.738 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
3 7 Alexander Rossi 1:03.3630 0.2857 0.1871 28 30 93.461 Chevy Arrow McLaren
4 27 Kyle Kirkwood 1:03.5140 0.4367 0.1510 27 31 93.239 Honda Andretti Autosport
5 10 Alex Palou 1:03.6388 0.5615 0.1248 31 34 93.056 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
6 6 Felix Rosenqvist 1:03.6929 0.6156 0.0541 27 27 92.977 Chevy Arrow McLaren
7 12 Will Power 1:03.7439 0.6666 0.0510 36 42 92.903 Chevy Team Penske
8 26 Colton Herta 1:03.7540 0.6767 0.0101 25 30 92.888 Honda Andretti Autosport w/Curb-Agajanian
9 77 Callum Ilott 1:03.7984 0.7211 0.0444 31 31 92.824 Chevy Juncos Hollinger Racing
10 3 Scott McLaughlin 1:03.9518 0.8745 0.1534 32 34 92.601 Chevy Team Penske
11 8 Marcus Ericsson 1:04.1082 1.0309 0.1564 33 35 92.375 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
12 45 Christian Lundgaard 1:04.1978 1.1205 0.0896 33 39 92.246 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
13 60 Simon Pagenaud 1:04.2281 1.1508 0.0303 32 34 92.203 Honda Meyer Shank Racing
14 11 Marcus Armstrong 1:04.3134 1.2361 0.0853 36 42 92.080 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
15 2 Josef Newgarden 1:04.4376 1.3603 0.1242 28 30 91.903 Chevy Team Penske
16 15 Graham Rahal 1:04.4797 1.4024 0.0421 30 34 91.843 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
17 29 Devlin DeFrancesco 1:04.6259 1.5486 0.1462 31 34 91.635 Honda Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport
18 30 Jack Harvey 1:04.6777 1.6004 0.0518 27 31 91.562 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
19 18 David Malukas 1:04.7698 1.6925 0.0921 26 29 91.432 Honda Dale Coyne Racing with HMD
20 21 Rinus VeeKay 1:04.7800 1.7027 0.0102 37 43 91.417 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
21 51 Sting Ray Robb 1:04.8143 1.7370 0.0343 36 39 91.369 Honda Dale Coyne Racing w/RWR
22 20 Conor Daly 1:04.8789 1.8016 0.0646 28 31 91.278 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
23 28 Romain Grosjean 1:05.5223 2.4450 0.6434 18 34 90.381 Honda Andretti Autosport
24 78 Agustin Canapino 1:05.6454 2.5681 0.1231 16 17 90.212 Chevy Juncos Holling Racing
25 14 Santino Ferrucci 1:06.0065 2.9292 0.3611 27 28 89.718 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
26 06 Helio Castroneves 1:06.0689 2.9916 0.0624 13 17 89.634 Honda Meyer Shank Racing
27 55 Benjamin Pedersen 1:07.7024 4.6251 1.6335 21 38 87.471 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises


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