Penske Cars Sizzle in Practice

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Well…at least the Team Penske cars of Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin were sizzling on a very hot and muggy afternoon at World Wide Technology Raceway. They paced the one and only practice for tonight’s Bommarito 500. The  ninety-minute practice session went without incident, which should be a big relief for all teams. Nothing could have been much worse than to have a team wad up a car just a couple of hours before qualifying.

That doesn’t mean that no cars were worked on during the session, or that teams aren’t frantically making changes before the 4:00 pm CDT qualifying session. While some teams were obviously very happy with their cars, others were not.

Josef Newgarden had the fastest lap of the day, with an average one-lap speed of 178.774 mph on the 1.25 mile egg-shaped oval. That was a blistering speed, considering the next fastest car of teammate Scott McLaughlin was over a mile an hour slower at 177.669 mph.

Other drivers that have to feel good about their cars – Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal and Scott Dixon all rounded out the Top-Five respectively.

Other drivers that probably climbed out of their cars feeling good about their weekend were Felix Rosenqvist (seventh), James Hinchcliffe (ninth) and Romain Grosjean (eleventh). I was especially impressed with the way Grosjean methodically went through practice. He was consistently quick as the session wore on, meaning that he didn’t just post one flyer to make him look competitive. He was in the mid-pack mix all day. That’s not bad for someone on an oval for the very first time, sharing the track with competitors.

There were two yellow-flag caution period for track inspection. After the second caution, I was standing at the end of pit row and got a good view of all the cars returning to the track at once to resume practice.

I got a good shot of a nervous Marijn van Kalmthout, watching his son practice on the video boards. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, his son is also known as Rinus VeeKay.

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Susan spent most of the practice going up and down pit row trying to get photos. For whatever reason, this is not a race that most of the drivers wives attend. Still, she got several of drivers and team personnel that she will have in her post that will be up after qualifying. She did give me a few of her car shots hat she really didn’t want.

bordais car

herta car2

power car

rosenqvist car

Will Power is one of those that will be looking for more speed in qualifying. He was only sixteenth quick on the day. Conor Daly is in the Carlin car this weekend, since Ed Carpenter is still running the ovals. Neither were fast, as Daly was only good for eighteenth and Carpenter was dead last (twenty-fourth).

Others posting disappointing times were Jack Harvey (nineteenth), Tony Kanaan (twentieth), Sebastien Bourdais (twenty-first) and Rinus VeeKay (twenty-second). All need to see a big jump in qualifying to avoiding starting in the back of the pack.

Of course, we had to take the obligatory Race Day selfie. To be accurate, it was post-practice and pre-qualifying – but it’s still Race Day.

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That will do it for now. Qualifying is coming up at 4:00 pm CDT. Susan will have a post between qualifying and the race, then I will have a quick late-night post after the race and my usual Random Thoughts post on Monday. Check back after qualifying.

George Phillips

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