Sonoma, Calif – Ahead of this weekend’s Indy Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma (6:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network), the Verizon IndyCar Series had six hours of on track testing at Sonoma Raceway on Thursday.
Due to a lack of Firestone Tires, the two sessions were polar opposite of one another.
Team Penske’s Will Power led the way in session No. 1 with a time of 1:18.1099-seconds in his No. 12 Chevrolet. Power, who has won the pole here five times since 2010, is certainly going to be another favorite for the Verizon P1 Pole Award on Saturday afternoon.
Graham Rahal was second in the initial two hour session with a lap of 1:18.4460-seconds in his No. 15 Honda. His lap was 0.3361-seconds slower than Power’s hot lap.
Tony Kanaan (1:18.4554-seconds), Marco Andretti (1:18.4620-seconds) and Carlos Munoz (1:18.5439-seconds) were third, fourth and fifth respectively in the session.
Just 14 of the 22 drivers turned laps early this morning with only 125 laps being turned. Rookie Zachary Claman DeMelo, who’s making his INDYCAR debut this weekend turned 32 laps. His quickest was 1:19.3032-seconds in his No. 13 Honda.
Charlie Kimball (15), rookie Jack Harvey (13) and Conor Daly (11) were the only other drivers to turn double-digit laps in the first test session on Thursday morning. The top five turned five laps or fewer.
Session No. 2 though, was much busier. Most of the teams decided to save their tires and fast laps for this session.
651 laps in total were turned compared to those 125 in session No. 1.
In that final session, the defending series champion and defending pole as well as race winner at Sonoma in Simon Pagenaud led the way with a lap of 1:16.6511-seconds. Pagenaud, currently is 34 points out of the lead with this weekend being the final race of the season.
Two other Penske drivers were up front too in Helio Castroneves (1:16.7530-seconds) and Power (1:17.0550-seconds) were second and third respectively.
After a rough weekend two weeks ago in Watkins Glen for the entire Penske organization, so far it’s shaping up to be a very good one at Sonoma. They were quickest in the first session and had 1-2-3 in session No. 2.
The fourth Penske member and current points leader Josef Newgarden was ninth overall on the day with a lap of 1:17.3491-seconds in his No. 2 Chevrolet.
Sebastien Bourdais (1:17.2175-seconds) and Alexander Rossi (1:17.2720-seconds) rounded out the top five.
Scott Dixon was sixth with a lap of 1:17.3016-seconds in his No. 9 Honda.
Takuma Sato was the lone accident of the day when he got into the Turn 6 barriers with just under an hour to go in the session. Luckily, the Andretti Autosport driver walked away from the crash, but his car was badly damaged. Sato, turned 27 laps in the session with a quickest time of 1:18.0956-seconds in his No. 26 Honda. That was good enough for 15th quick.