Pato O’Ward leads stoppage-filled Practice 1 at Detroit

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As the drivers were discovering the newest track of the calendar, the session was stopped with red flags.

Photo credit: Arrow McLaren

Red flags as drivers escaped through the runoffs were the characteristics of the first practice session at the new city center Detroit Street Circuit. Pato O’Ward, despite triggering an early end to the session due to a red flag, led it, with a time of 1:03:0773. Scott Dixon and his teammate Alexander Rossi completed the top three.It was the first look for the drivers, teams, and fans for the newest NTT IndyCar Series circuit. As Belle Isle made its last appearance last year and was substituted by this new track near the GM Headquarters.

It showed to be a fast and bumpy track, as drivers were achieving top speed on the long straight between turns 2 and 3. Its biggest characteristic is the new two-line pitlane, with the drivers having to go side by side and then rejoining for a tight pit exit. Drivers complained of low grip on the track.Five red flags were triggered by drivers going to the escape zone. Canapino, Rahal, Ericsson, Palou, and O’Ward were the biggest victims of this new venue. The Argentinian was the only one to actually hit the wall, at the turn 6-7 fast chicane.

Arrow McLaren was the class of the field in this first session, as O’Ward led, Rosenqvist was 5th and his teammate Rossi followed in 6th. Their dampers seemed to be working better at this street track, at least at this early on the weekend.But the Ganassis with Dixon and Palou in the top-5 were close. Also, the Andrettis showed their strength on street circuits, with Kirkwood and Herta in the top 10. Another highlight was Juncos Hollinger Racing driver Callum Ilott. The Brit finished the session inside the top 10, showing great pace all throughout.The field is close. With practice 2 plus qualifying taking place tomorrow, it will define the order of the field for Sunday’s 100-lap showdown.