Fastest Pagenaud, Grosjean 9th!
For the second round of the 2022 season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the discipline is heading to an oval in Texas. It was Simon Pagenaud who showed himself at ease for the first free practice.
Simon Pagenaud led the hour-long session this morning on the 1.5-mile oval, clocking a 223.087mph lead lap at the wheel of the #60 Honda. That’s faster than the track record of 222.747 mph set by Charlie Kimball in qualifying in 2017.
Texas, already the track record for Pagenaud
Pagenaud took advantage of a draft on his fast lap, which was set early in the session in bright sunshine and cool morning temperatures. He attributed his speed and stability in traffic to the new aerodynamic parts that INDYCAR has made available to teams to create even more exciting races at this event.
« I think the package is better, in terms of downforce, you can follow the cars more closely, and it doesn’t bother you as much as in previous years, » Pagenaud said. « You can go flat out and have good runs coming out of Turn 2. I think they did a great job at the INDYCAR level to get the package right. »
Felix Rosenqvist was second fastest at 222.878 in the #7 Chevrolet McLaren, with Colton Herta third at 222.786 in the #26 Honda. Rookie Callum Ilott, competing in the first oval race of his career, stunned his world with his fastest lap of 222.257 in the #77 Chevrolet. Scott McLaughlin, overall leader and winner of the St-Petersburg race, completes the top 5 with 222.234 in the #3 Team Penske Chevrolet XPEL.
Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was the busiest driver during practice as he prepares for his first oval race in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Johnson clocked 69 laps in the #48 Honda, 13 more than anyone else. His fastest lap was 220.426, good for 22nd place overall.
« It was a lot of fun, » Johnson said. « I overtook a few cars, I drove a bit alone on the track, I did a qualifying simulation there at the end, I told my right foot to stay fully pressed. It’s always a funny argument for a driver. It takes practice to get there. I feel like I made a lot of progress in the 60 or so laps I did today. »