St. Petersburg: Day-One Wrap-up

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Practice One for Race One is now in the books. All the offseason testing is now obsolete information. Who was quickest? Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean. Many have been saying that the pressure is on Grosjean, because he is now with a good team and he will be running all of the races. Well, if he was under pressure this afternoon, he didn’t show it. Grosjean turned the fastest lap of the session with a time of 1:01.0525.

His Andretti teammate, Colton Herta, was about a half of a tenth slower. Michael Andretti has to be happy after seeing two of his drivers post the two quickest times of the day. Alexander Rossi was sixth quick and even rookie Devlin DeFrancesco was thirteenth quick, which puts him in the top half of the field. The two other cars under the Andretti umbrella – the Meyer Shank Racing cars posted decent times. Simon Pagenaud was fourth quick, while Helio Castroneves was eleventh fastest. I snapped this photo of Pagenaud about to put his helmet on, just before practice. It’s going to take me a while to get used to him in these colors.

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Will Power was the fastest car from Team Penske, at third quick on the day. Here are all three of the fastest drivers of the day in the post-practice press conference.

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Scott McLaughlin posted a decent time that was good enough for eighth quick. Josef Newgarden was a surprisingly slow fourteenth quick. I expect that to change by the end of qualifying. I got this picture of a perplexed Newgarden debriefing his crew after the practice session.

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Graham Rahal was fifth fastest and his new teammate, Jack Harvey, was right behind him with the seventh quickest time of the day. Christian Lungaard, the third Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver, posted the twenty-fifth quickest time, out of twenty-six cars. Only Tatiana Calderon posted a slower time than Lungaard.

Some of the other drivers that are probably scratching their heads tonight are the four cars from the Chip Ganassi stable. Marcus Ericsson posted the team’s fastest time that was good enough for only fifteenth quick. Defending champion, Alex Palou, posted only the seventeenth quickest time and Scott Dixon was nineteenth quick. Jimmie Johnson showed no signs of improvement from last season as he posted only the twenty-fourth quickest time. I got this picture of Ericsson chatting with fans just before practice.

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Both drivers from Arrow McLaren SP are probably a little concerned. Felix Rosenqvist was only able to post the sixteenth quickest time, while teammate Pato O’Ward could only manage to be twentieth fastest. Two drivers going in different directions are from Ed Carpenter Racing. Rinus VeeKay was ninth quick, while Conor Daly was the twenty-first fastest car.

As far as the rookies go, Dale Coyne’s David Malukas outpaced them all, posting the tenth quickest time of the day. AJ Foyt’s Kyle Kirkwood was impressive in being the twelfth quickest in that car. Devlin DeFrancesco was thirteenth quick in Michael Andretti’s car, Callum Ilott was only able to get his Juncos Hollinger owned car to twenty-second quick, while the aforementioned Christian Lundgaard and Tatiana Calderon were the two slowest cars in the field.

What can we read into all of this? Well, it’s not meaningless. Some teams and drivers will figure things out tomorrow morning, but others will struggle through Qualifying. Others will see their promising times from today shuffled to the bottom of tomorrow’s scoring sheet. That is what makes an entire racing weekend so interesting.

This will wrap it up for us for today. We ate seafood last night (Grouper and I ate oysters). Tonight, seafood is on the docket again at a little place where we went a lot on our honeymoon, almost ten years ago – Crabby Bills in Indian Rocks Beach.

I’ll close with some much better random photos that Susan took during practice. I took my pictures with my phone, while she used a real camera to exhibit her photography skills, and it shows. Not only does she have better equipment, she really knows how to compose a shot. You can tell that I don’t. Please check back in the morning and throughout the weekend.

George Phillips

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3 Responses to “St. Petersburg: Day-One Wrap-up”

  1. Maurice Kessler Says:

    Thank you for the update.

  2. Great stuff. Great pictures too. Feel I have one foot there !

  3. Great stuff! Enjoy the weekend!

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