Newgarden is this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner with a best lap time of 18.242 seconds (176.428 mph) during the 90-minute race on the 7/8 mile oval. He has led 1,056 laps and has 4 victories in 12 races.
Ed Carpenter set an early pace of 172.678 mph for his team, 0.3 mph ahead of series ruler Alex Palu (Chip Ganassi Racing). The latter’s teammate Marcus Ericsson took first place 10 minutes later at 173.811 mph.
Ryan Hunter-Ray (ECR), Colton Hertha (Andretti Autosport) and Newgarden (Newgarden) followed with a series of fastest laps, with the latter leading the way at 176 mph at 176.428 mph, still the fastest time in practice.
The team spent most of their time assessing tire degradation, with cars using old tires slowing down significantly on Iowa’s heavily worn asphalt roads. Even Newgarden’s lap time was 25 mph short of his fastest time.
Agustin Canapino got his first yellow card after halfway through when he ignited his leaving the pit tires and spun his Juncos Hollinger Racing car at Turn 1, luckily not quite entering the line of Alexander Rossi’s Arrow McLaren.
Conor Daly is one of the few to fill in for the absent Simon Pagenaud once again at Meyer Shank Racing. Putting on new tires mid-race, he jumped to fourth with a lap of 174.003 mph.
More new tires with a third of the race to go: Ericsson was second at 175.887 mph and Pato Owald (whose Arrow McLaren team was one of the few teams not testing here) was fourth at 175.470 mph. He then showed strong speed in laps 5 and 10.
Hertha nearly brushed the wall at Turn 4 with 20 minutes to go, but narrowly escaped. His teammate Romain Grosjean then narrowly missed Palou at Turn 3.
In the last 10 minutes, Santino Ferrucci was shown a second yellow card for going through Turn 2 in his AJ Foyt Racing car.
Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin put on new tires at the resumption of the race and jumped to P2 at 175.968 mph, 0.0477 seconds slower than teammate Newgarden at 0.5 mph calculated. Takuma Sato also finished sixth at 175.288 mph, with Toronto champion Christian Lundgaard (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) seventh with two minutes to go.
Third fastest Ericsson completed the most laps with 126 laps.
Qualifying begins Saturday at 8:30 am local time (9:30 am ET), with the grid for the race set by each driver for the first and second laps of the two-lap race.
8 20Ryan Hunter-Ray