Castroneves heads Andretti in Sonoma’s opening practice

In a session where the leading runners made few laps to save their tire allocation, Helio Castroneves got it all right on his fourth and final lap to set fastest time.

Castroneves heads Andretti in Sonoma’s opening practice
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport Honda
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Championship contenders Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet, Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Championship contenders Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet, Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Jack Hawksworth, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda

The Team Penske-Chevrolet driver lapped the 2.238-mile course in 1min17.3298sec – about one second off the lap record - to set a best lap speed of 111.031mph. That was just 0.1313sec faster than the session’s surprise, Marco Andretti, whose speed reflected a strong test for the Andretti Autosport-Honda team last week. Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay was fifth fastest, although Alexander Rossi and Carlos Munoz were 11th and 20th respectively this morning.

The dearth of laps by most of the leading runners reflected their ambition to have fresh rubber for both qualifying and the race, and also the session being less than informative. Ambient temperature reached a high of only 65degF, whereas this afternoon – and, crucially, tomorrow afternoon when qualifying is held – temperature is expected to be 85deg.

Championship contenders Simon Pagenaud and Will Power therefore completed only five and four laps respectively, winding up 10th and 17th respectively. Outgoing champion, and defending Sonoma race-winner Scott Dixon completed just nine laps – a couple of them painfully slowly – and his Chip Ganassi Racing-Chevrolet finished the session 18th.

Graham Rahal, who struggled at this track last year, was third for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda, while Jack Hawksworth was fourth in what will probably be his final race weekend with AJ Foyt Racing-Honda, four places ahead of teammate Takuma Sato. Mikhail Aleshin and James Hinchcliffe were also close, filling out spots P6 and P9.

Josef Newgarden was seventh for Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet, as the team continues its quest to break up the Penske/Ganassi hegemony on the championship table. He can finish third in the title race this weekend if he can overturn his five-point deficit to Dixon and Castroneves.

Sonoma, Free Practice 1
P.DriverTeam (Engine)LapsTime/deficit
1 3  Helio Castroneves http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Castroneves_s.png Penske (C) 4 1:17.3298
2 27  Marco Andretti http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Andretti_s.png Andretti (H) 15 0.1313
3 15  Graham Rahal http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Rahal_s.png Rahal (H) 20 0.1678
4 41  Jack Hawksworth http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Hawksworth_s.png Foyt (H) 15 0.2131
5 28  Ryan Hunter-Reay http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Hunter-Reay_s.png Andretti (H) 11 0.2528
6 7  Mikhail Aleshin http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Aleshin_s.png Schmidt (H) 21 0.2735
7 21  Josef Newgarden http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Newgarden_s.png Carpenter (C) 11 0.3088
8 14  Takuma Sato http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Sato_s.png Foyt (H) 23 0.3895
9 5  James Hinchcliffe http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Hinchcliffe_s.png Schmidt (H) 19 0.4780
10 22  Simon Pagenaud http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Pagenaud_s.png Penske (C) 5 0.5198
11 98  Alexander Rossi http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Rossi_s.png Andretti-Herta (H) 23 0.5379
12 2   Juan Pablo Montoya http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Montoya_s.png Penske (C) 8 0.5751
13 10  Tony Kanaan http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Kanaan_s.png Ganassi (C) 12 0.6263
14 19  R.C. Enerson http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Enerson_s.png Coyne (H) 22 0.6479
15 83  Charlie Kimball http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Kimball_s.png Ganassi (C) 14 0.6671
16 11  Sébastien Bourdais http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Bourdais_s.png KVSH (C) 16 0.7070
17 12  Will Power http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Power_s.png Penske (C) 4 0.7506
18 9  Scott Dixon http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Dixon_s.png Ganassi (C) 9 0.8276
19 20  Spencer Pigot http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Pigot_s.png Carpenter (C) 19 0.8993
20 26  Carlos Muñoz http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Munoz_s.png Andretti (H) 20 0.9268
21 8  Max Chilton http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Chilton_s.png Ganassi (C) 22 0.9555
22 18  Conor Daly http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/16-Sonoma/Daly_s.png Coyne (H) 15 1.8141

(C) = Chevrolet, (H) = Honda

 

 

 

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