Chevrolet might have suffered a major penalties setback in the manufacturers championship since the Verizon IndyCar Series was last in action two weeks ago at St Petersburg, but first practice for the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana confirmed that the bow tie brigade was once again in crushing form the minute attention turned back to performance on the track.

CLICK: Full Friday practice 1 times from Louisiana.

When the chequered flag came out at the end of the first session at the 2.74-mile, 13-turn NOLA Motorsports Park road course in Avondale, Chevrolet was the power behind eight of the top ten cars while their rivals Honda had eight of the slowest ten in the standings.

For once however it wasn't Penske leading the charge at the front of the field. Instead it was Ganassi's Tony Kanaan who posted the best time with a lap of 1:18.8753s (125.056mph) which put him 0.0539s ahead of defending series champion Will Power.

Kanaan's team mate Scott Dixon was third fastest just ahead of KVSH Racing's Sebastien Bourdais, with Simon Pagenaud the next Penske runner in fifth place ahead of CFH Racing's Josef Newgarden.

Rookie driver Sage Karam had an impressive run to seventh place in the standings in the Ganassi-affiliated #8, putting the 20-year-old less than a tenth of a second ahead of James Hinchcliffe who was the highest-placed Honda driver in the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

The other Honda-powered driver in the top ten was Gabby Chaves in the #98 Bryan Herta Autosport who finished the session in ninth just ahead of Penske's Juan Pablo Montoya, the winner of the season opener at St Pete.

The top 14 cars in the 24-car field were within a second of Kanaan's benchmark time. Narrowly falling outside it were Andretti Autoport's Ryan Hunter-Reay in 15th and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal in 16th.

Four cars were more than two seconds off Kanaan's time, with Simona de Silvestro (Andretti Autosport), AJ Foyt Racing team mates Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth and Dale Coyne Racing's Francesco Dracone all finding it tough going in their first taste of the newly-reconstructed track.

There were a number of red flags during the first 90-minute practice session, beginning with a spin for Hawksworth in turn 3 just five minutes in that required a safety crew to help retrieve the #41. Moments later the red flags were out for a second time when Dracone spun off the track at the exit of turn 5 in the #19 car.

There was an additional pause in proceedings at the one hour mark when Dracone's team mate Carlos Huertas went off at turn 6 and backwards into the gravel where he was left beached, narrowly avoiding being hit by Luca Filippi in the #20 CFH Racing entry. A few minutes later and the red flag were out again when when Hinchcliffe spun his SPM car at the same spot.

Dixon subsequently became the first and only Chevrolet-powered driver to trigger a red flag when he had a harmless spin and brief excursion through the grass in turn 1 with just under 15 minutes left on the clock, at around the same moment that Hinchcliffe's team mate James Jakes had a near miss when he had a ragged entry into pit lane and nearly collected another car on the way.

The weather stayed fine for the session, but the muggy feel to the air hinted at the approaching line of thunderstorms that have been forecast to roll across the area and which may affect the scheduled second 80-minute practice at 4.15pm local time (10.15pm BST).

Drivers will also have another 45-minute practice on Saturday at 12.30pm before qualifying which is scheduled for 4.15pm. The teams will have a half hour warm-up opportunity on Sunday morning ahead of the 75-lap race which gets underway shortly after 2.30pm (8.30pm BST).

See full Friday practice 1 times from Louisiana.



Loading Comments...