Pagenaud leads Penske 1-2-3 in Sonoma test

Defending champion and defending Sonoma winner Simon Pagenaud led Penske-Chevrolet teammates Helio Castroneves and Will Power in the final open test of the season, ahead of the season finale.

Pagenaud leads Penske 1-2-3 in Sonoma test

The open test, which sees this event effectively turn into a four-day race weekend, saw the three “outsiders” in the title battle take center stage, with Pagenaud lapping the 2.385-mile road course in 1min16.6511sec, an average speed of 112.014mph. That saw him 0.1sec faster than Castroneves, and four tenths faster than Power, who is nursing an injured left knee following a body-surfing incident.

Sebastien Bourdais put his Dale Coyne Racing entry fourth and top Honda-powered car, but he was well over half a second behind compatriot Pagenaud.

Watkins Glen winner Alexander Rossi was less than a tenth faster than Andretti Autosport-Honda teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, but the pair was split by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, who enters the weekend just three points behind points leader Josef Newgarden of Penske and is going for his fifth championship. Newgarden himself turned more laps than anyone – 56 – but was down in ninth, seven-tenths off Pagenaud.

Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti were eighth and 10th fastest respectively.

The afternoon session was stopped three times – twice for tow-ins for Rossi and Charlie Kimball, once for a heavy shunt for Andretti Autosport’s Takuma Sato at Turn 5.

Ahead of his second roadcourse IndyCar race, Jack Harvey ended the test just over half a second behind Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda teammate James Hinchcliffe.

Zachary Claman De Melo, who will make his first IndyCar start on Sunday in a second Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda, was 20th, 1.1sec behind Graham Rahal. 

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