A Surprise Leader for Practice One

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Earlier today,I referenced how Josef Newgarden and Team Penske did not perform well at this race last year. I also mentioned that they have turned things around for 2022. That was certainly the case today, as Team Penske finished Practice One with all of their cars in the Top Seven. Scott McLaughlin finished fourth, hometown driver Josef Newgarden was fifth and Will Power was seventh.

Felix Rosenqvist had the second fastest lap and rookie David Malukas continues to impress by turning the third quickest time of the day.

But the biggest surprise, to me anyway, was when rookie Christian Lundgaard turned the quickest lap at 1:15.9659 – more than two-tenths quicker than Rosenqvist.

I say it was a surprise, not as a slap to Lundgaard, but the Rahal cars have not been up to speed in practice or qualifying. Case in point; his teammates Graham Rahal and Jack Harvey were twentieth and nineteenth on the speed chart today.

Last week’s (penalized) winner, Alexander Rossi, was sixth on the day. Colton Herta, Alex Palou and Romain Grosjean rounded out the Top-Ten.

Surprises found further down the time sheet were Pato O’Ward at fourteenth, Scott Dixon sixteenth and Rinus VeeKay was twenty-second.

It was a good crowd today, especially considered it was threatening rain for most of the day. I think the hardest it rained all day was when I was walking in this morning. It really turned out to be nice, for this time of year in Nashville. The cloud-cover kept the temps in the low to mid-80s. Still it was hot for the drivers. I was lucky to catch this photo of Josef Newgarden, right after practice – sticking his air-conditioning hose down his fire suit. He smiled as he saw I caught him in the act with a picture.

Cool Newgarden

In the post-practice press-conference, many drivers said that the track modifications had improved the track over last year. Felix Rosenqvist said the whole track felt different. He didn’t elaborate whether it was better or worse, but he reiterated that it was just…different.

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Although this is Year Two for this event, it still seems very surreal to have the series that I have followed religiously for decades, racing where I live. Not only are they racing in my town, but they are racing at the home of one of my other passions – the Tennessee Titans. My two worlds are definitely colliding this weekend.

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That will do it for me today. I spoke with Mrs. Oilpressure right before practice and she was about to pull it up on her iPad. We texted several times throughout practice, and I know she wishes she was her. Likewise.

Please check back tomorrow and throughout the whole weekend. I’ll be here in the morning, when I get here and get settled before IndyCar practice.

George Phillips

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