It’s Shaping Up To Be Honda vs. Team Penske In Sonoma, Friday’s Practice Report

SONOMA, Calif – It shouldn’t come much as a shock, but after Friday’s two Verizon IndyCar Series practice sessions at the Sonoma Raceway, it appears that Sunday’s Sonoma Grand Prix (6:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network) will be a battle between Honda vs. Team Penske.

In the two sessions, Chevy showed that their only shot of winning Sunday’s race is to have one of the three Team Penske drivers get them there. While it’s not too much of a longshot either, it’s their only hope. 

Honda put 10 drivers in the top 12 of the timing charts in the first session and eight of the top 11 in the second and final session of the day on a sun filled Friday afternoon in wine country.

The only Chevy drivers really found up front were Penske’s as Will Power and Simon Pagenaud were third and fourth respectively in the first session and fourth and 17th respectively in the second one. Josef Newgarden didn’t turn a single lap in the first practice but was fastest though in the second one.

Patricio O’Ward in a Harding entry was third fastest in the second session to give Chevy three of the top four speeds.

Penske has won six of the last eight races in Sonoma and three of the five on natural road courses this season. They’re legit.

The Honda camp was evenly balanced. Chip Ganassi Racing saw Scott Dixon and Ed Jones be second and sixth respectively in the first practice and second and seventh respectively in the second session. Andretti Autosport was right there as their foursome were all in the top 10 in the first practice and had three in the top 11 in the second one hour session.

Ryan Hunter-Reay led the way in session No. 1 while Marco Andretti (5th), Alexander Rossi (8th) and Zach Veach (9th) were all up front. They were sixth (Rossi), 10th (Hunter-Reay), 11th (Veach) and 16th (Andretti) in the second one.

Dale Coyne Racing had their cars P10 (Sebastien Bourdais), P11 (Pietro Fittipaldi) and P12 (Santino Ferrucci) in session No. 1. They were stronger in session No. 2. Ferrucci led the team in eighth while Fittipaldi was ninth. Bourdais, fell to 18th.

Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing won the last race of the season with Takuma Sato stealing a win in Portland. Sato was 14th and 13th respectively on Friday. Graham Rahal was seventh and 14th respectively himself.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and their alliance with Meyer-Shank Racing rounded out the charts for the Honda camp. James Hinchcliffe was P5 in the second session.

It appears that this may be a hard fought race up front between Honda and Penske.

Session 1 Results

  1. 28 Hunter-Reay 1:17.574
  2.  9 Dixon 1:17.826
  3. 12 Power 1:17.881
  4. 22 Pagenaud 1:17.958
  5. 98 Andretti 1:18.087
  6. 10 Jones 1:18.138
  7. 15 Rahal 1:18.166
  8. 27 Rossi 1:18.273
  9. 26 Veach R 1:18.354
  10. 18 Bourdais 1:18.370
  11. 19 Fittipaldi R 1:18.444
  12. 39 Ferrucci R 1:18.599
  13. 21 Pigot 1:18.729
  14. 30 Sato 1:18.745
  15.  5 Hinchcliffe 1:18.775
  16. 88 Herta R 1:18.826
  17. 60 Harvey 1:18.931
  18. 23 Kimball 1:18.963
  19. 14 Kanaan 1:19.061
  20.  4 Leist R 1:19.091
  21.  6 Munoz 1:19.092
  22. 20 King R 1:19.163
  23. 59 Chilton 1:19.173
  24.  8 O’Ward R 1:19.189
  25.  1 Newgarden No Time

Session 2 Results

  1.  1 Newgarden 1:17.8156
  2.  9 Dixon 1:17.8992
  3.  8 O’Ward R 1:18.0073
  4. 12 Power 1:18.0284
  5.  5 Hinchcliffe 1:18.2356
  6. 27 Rossi 1:18.3884
  7. 10 Jones 1:18.4924
  8. 39 Ferrucci R 1:18.5961
  9. 19 Fittipaldi R 1:18.6016
  10. 28 Hunter-Reay 1:18.6064
  11. 26 Veach R 1:18.6093
  12. 20 King R 1:18.6350
  13. 30 Sato 1:18.6790
  14. 15 Rahal 1:18.7226
  15.  6 Munoz 1:18.7812
  16. 98 Andretti 1:18.8063
  17. 22 Pagenaud 1:18.8075
  18. 18 Bourdais 1:18.9063
  19. 21 Pigot 1:18.9260
  20. 60 Harvey 1:18.9489
  21. 88 Herta R 1:19.0086
  22. 23 Kimball 1:19.0498
  23. 14 Kanaan 1:19.2466
  24. 59 Chilton 1:19.3278
  25.  4 Leist R 1:19.3579

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