Josef Newgarden looks up pit lane during the Phoenix Open Test at Phoenix International Raceway
From the Track

Friday Recap from Verizon IndyCar Series Open Test at Phoenix Raceway

Story Credit: Jared DePouw
Photo Credit: INDYCAR Photo

{boxplus href=”images/News/2017PhoenixTest/NewgardenJones.jpg” title=”Photo Credit INDYCAR Photo/Chris Jones”}Josef Newgarden looks up pit lane during the Phoenix Open Test at Phoenix International Raceway{/boxplus}

AVONDALE, Arizona – After five long months away, the Verizon IndyCar Series kicked off the 2017 preseason with the first of two days of testing at Phoenix Raceway and it didn’t take long for Josef Newgarden to prove that Team Penske made the right decision in hiring the 26 year old American.

The first of two sessions on Friday began with only the #4 car of Conor Daly taking laps at speed during the first half hour. Unfortunately for Daly, he would bring a halt to the practice after his car began smoking while entering Turn 1. Fortunately for the #4 team, the smoke was caused by an oil leak and not engine problems. However, it would lead to a nearly 28-minute caution period while crews cleaned up after the #4 car in pit lane. Other than a couple of track inspections, the rest of the first practice session ran incident-free with drivers turning a total of 910 laps.

“It’s great to be going and fun to be with Team Penske. It’s really been an interesting offseason for me, just I’ve not really wanted an offseason this time around. Normally you like a little bit of a break, but this year I wanted to get going immediately, so it’s been a long wait. But I feel fairly squared away with the new operation and just trying to gel a little bit with the group, the Verizon (No.) 2 car team is all new to me,” said Newgarden. “They’re not new to each other, so there’s great continuity there, but I’m new to the group, so they’re trying to understand me and I’m trying to understand them. I think we had a pretty good start to today. The car was really great off the truck, so we didn’t have to do too much. We just got into our program and had a pretty easy start to the afternoon.”

 

Friday Practice #1 – Top 3

  1. Josef Newgarden – 190.129mph
  2. Ed Carpenter – 189.990mph
  3. Will Power – 188.637mph

Fastest No-Tow Lap: Marco Andretti – 187.305mph

 

As the sun set over the track for the second practice session of the day, the speeds quickly began to match the afternoon session. And just like the afternoon practice, the evening session ran incident-free with only a handful of track inspections. The evening session saw drivers turn 1,728 laps, nearly double the number in the afternoon session.

“It’s always encouraging (to see your name at the top). It’s still early but it’s a good start. What I like about it is, you obviously want to be P1, but today we really focused on the car, the car, the car. We just focused on doing our jobs and maximizing whatever we can. And we ended up all right. I have a hunch that the opposition is turned down, but you might as well be there if you can be,” said Marco Andretti. “The atmosphere, a lot of it is just me. I decided for myself that, ‘I’m going to do this for me. I’m going to have fun. I’m going to drive to impress myself, not anybody else.’ When you drive more relaxed, you do a better job.”

 

Friday Practice #2 – Top 3

  1. Marco Andretti – 189.122mph
  2. Graham Rahal – 188.642mph
  3. Takuma Sato – 188.088mph

Fastest No-Tow Lap: Graham Rahal – 188.098mph

Jared DePouw
Jared is the founder of RealOpenWheel.com but works as a small business accountant. He also officiates high school football and lacrosse in his free time.

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