Team Penske were dominant once again in final practice as Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Helio Castroneves put a strong effort in to finish 1-2-3.
Power had the fastest car in the session, setting a time of 1:06.995, becoming the first driver of the weekend to break into the 1:06’s. Newgarden ran decent lap times in the first couple of minutes in final practice eventually managing to put in a 1:07.099, making him the second fastest driver of the session. Castroneves was in and out of the top 10 but eventually found the speed to finish third as he set a 1:07.190 lap time.
Mikhail Aleshin was the only Honda driver to finish inside the top 5 with a 1:07.260 for fourth place as he spoiled a potential 1-2-3-4 finish for Team Penske and Simon Pagenaud. Pagenaud rounded out the top 5 with a 1:07.345.
James Hinchcliffe was also jumping in and out of the top 10 but would eventually settle for sixth place. Behind Hinchcliffe was Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon who placed himself in seventh position, finishing ahead of Marco Andretti. Graham Rahal is looking for redemption in today’s race as his car was fast enough to sit in ninth position whilst Max Chilton, who was struggling in yesterday’s practice sessions, made up the top 10 with less than five minutes to go in the session.
The only incident we had in final practice was Ryan Hunter-Reay spinning out when he caught the grass in Turn 14. The Andretti Autosport driver did not suffer any damage as he continued to put a lap in. Hunter-Reay was also in an incident yesterday when he sent his car to the sand in Turn 2 after locking up his tyres.
Will Power took pole position, leading Penske to start 1-2-3. Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud will start second and third right behind Power after a thrilling qualifying session. In Fast Six, Scott Dixon was on a quick lap but fell short of earning the pole by six tenths from Power’s fastest lap time of a 1:06.961, settling for fourth spot. Hunter-Reay placed himself in fifth and Hinchcliffe rounds up the Fast Six.
Josef Newgarden must settle in seventh after being knocked out by Dixon to get in the final round. He will start ahead of Mikhail Aleshin, two Chip Ganassi cars of Max Chilton and Tony Kanaan, and the two Dale Coyne cars, Ed Jones and Sebastien Bourdais.
It was a disappointing qualifying run for Marco Andretti in Round One after he was putting his car on top of the charts all weekend long. He was knocked out by Chilton, forcing him to start in thirteenth. The up and down day continued for Andretti Autosport as Takuma Sato will start in fourteenth after being knocked out of Round One by Bourdais. Sadly for Alexander Rossi, his qualifying runs were a disaster as he’ll start eighteenth in Row Nine.
Zach Veach who is subbing in for the injured JR Hildebrand, will start nineteenth, a row behind his teammate, Spencer Pigot. However, most notably, it’ll be Graham Rahal who starts from the back. Rahal is the favorite to win today’s race but he’ll have to do his best to pull off what Bourdais did back at St. Pete and try to win from last to first.
Will Team Penske be the first Chevrolet team to win this season? Can Bourdais extend his points lead? Can Rahal fight his way to the front from the very back of the grid? Tune in to today’s IndyCar race coverage @EssaarLIVExtra to find out!