Iowa master Newgarden tops ‘tricky’ Friday IndyCar practice

IOWA SPEEDWAY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - JULY 23: #2: Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet at Iowa Speedway on Saturday July 23, 2022 in Newton, United States of America. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt / LAT Images)
IOWA SPEEDWAY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - JULY 23: #2: Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet at Iowa Speedway on Saturday July 23, 2022 in Newton, United States of America. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt / LAT Images)

The Hy-Vee IndyCar Weekend at Iowa Speedway got under way on Friday with a 90-minute practice session and the 0.875-mile oval’s master maintained his place atop the field of 28 cars. Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden and the No. 2 Chevy lapped the circuit at 176.428mph and was shadowed by his teammate Scott McLaughlin in the No. 3 Chevy (175.968mph).

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson was third in the No. 8 Honda (175.877mph), Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta was fourth in the No. 26 Honda (175.531mph), and Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward was fifth in the No. 5 Chevy (175.470mph).

“We’ve got a pretty good package,” said a somewhat satisfied Newgarden. “It was just OK in race trim. It’s tricky. I wasn’t 100 percent where I wanted to be, but we have the potential to get where we need to.”

Under cloudy blue skies and warm temperatures in the low 80s, the late afternoon run was busy, and behind O’Ward, Ganassi’s Takuma Sato was sixth (175.288mph) and had Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Christian Lundgaard nearby in seventh (174.364mph). Ed Carpenter Racing’s Ryan Hunter-Reay was eighth (174.204mph) and the car’s former driver, Conor Daly, was ninth for Meyer Shank Racing (174.003mph). Ganassi’s Scott Dixon rounded out the top 10 (173.943mph).

After 30 minutes, Newgarden was fastest with a 176.428mph lap, and behind him, Herta was second at 175.521mph. Hunter-Reay was third at 174.204mph, ahead of Ericsson at 173.811mph and Dixon at 173.687mph as Chevy- and Honda-powered drivers shared the top five.

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With 44 minutes left to run, the first caution of the session was required when Agustin Canapino spun exiting pit lane and rolled backwards onto the racing line in Turn 2 as Alexander Rossi took avoiding action. The Juncos Hollinger Racing driver got himself sorted and came to a stop on the apron where IndyCar’s AMR Safety Team fired the engine and sent him back to the pits.

The field returned to action with 40 minutes on the clock, and Daly was the first mover as he jumped to fourth with 174.003mph lap. O’Ward fired into third right at the 30-minute mark with a 175.470mph lap as some drivers were completing long runs to measure the loss of grip and others were starting runs on new tires and motored forward on the speed chart.

Ericsson was next to move, improving from fourth to second with a lap of 175.877mph, and Herta nearly caught the wall while completing a 175.521mph lap to reclaim third. At 20 minutes to go, the leader board had Newgarden, Ericsson, Herta, O’Ward, and Hunter-Reay in the top five. Sixth through 10th were Daly, Dixon, Scott Power, Helio Castroneves, and Alex Palou.

Another caution was called for by IndyCar with nine minutes remaining when Santino Ferrucci slid up into the marbles but did not come close to the Turn 2 wall and it was rescinded. With fresh tires, McLaughlin leapt to second with a 175.968mph lap at the five-minute mark and the jamboree to perform qualifying simulations was on.

But with 28 cars on such a short track, finding clear space and clean air to do those runs without interruption was all but impossible. While others improved behind the top five, the order was unchanged at the checkered flag with Newgarden leading McLaughlin, Ericsson, Herta, and O’Ward holding station.

UP NEXT: Qualifying, Saturday, 10:35am ET, streaming on Peacock.

RESULTS


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