Newgarden leads rain-delayed Gateway practice; Penske 1-2-4 marred by late wreck

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photo: Penske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski

After an afternoon’s worth of rain delays, Indy 500 winner and championship contender Josef Newgarden continued to show his dominant form on ovals, with the Team Penske driver taking the top spot in Saturday’s one-hour practice session for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway with a speed of 180.040mph. He and his teammates made up three of the top four spots, with Scott McLaughlin coming in second with a fastest speed of 179.353mph and Will Power fourth at 178.703mph. Splitting the Penske drivers was Takuma Sato, coming in third for Chip Ganassi Racing with a top speed of 179.206mph. Felix Rosenqvist rounded out the top five with a speed of 178.518mph, ahead of Arrow McLaren teammate Alexander Rossi with a speed of 178.310.

Colton Herta, Conor Daly–driving the newly-vacated #30 car for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing this weekend–and Marcus Ericsson were the other drivers recording speeds in the 178mph range, coming in at 178.142mph, 178.046mph, and 178.040mph respectively. Callum Ilott rounded out the top 10 for Juncos Hollinger Racing, recording a top speed of 177.572mph. Championship leader Alex Palou came in 14th on the timesheets, with a fastest lap of 177.030mph.

There were two yellow flags in the session, both late: Sato caused the first yellow flag with ten minutes left, just brushing the wall coming out of turn four, but was undamaged and the cleanup was brief before sending the cars back out onto the track with just over seven minutes left. A little more than a minute later, however, a much larger wreck halted practice when McLaughlin spun coming out of turn one; Power ran wide to avoid in turn two, scuffed the wall, and spun right into the path of Marcus Ericsson.

After the main session, the undamaged cars took part in a 25 minute session to lay down extra rubber on the high side in advance of tomorrow’s race. The rain delays have pushed qualifying to Sunday morning, with qualifying starting at 10am local time ahead of a 2:30pm race start.