IndyCar St. Pete: Herta tops first practice, McLaughlin stars

David Malsher-Lopez
·4-min read

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist was the first driver to duck into the 61sec bracket, turning a 1min01.8248sec lap of the 1.8-mile street and runway course, an average speed of 104.812mph.

Then with 25mins remaining, eight-time St. Pete polesitter Will Power of Team Penske-Chevrolet joined him in that bracket and next time by eclipsed him with a 61.6276.

Soon after, Takuma Sato of Rahal Letterman Lanigan, rookie Alex Palou of Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh, and Sebastien Bourdais of AJ Foyt Racing were also in that 61sec zone.

After outbraking himself at Turn 3, Bourdais channeled his frustration into brilliance and sprung to P2. Then Marcus Ericsson of Ganassi headed into the Top 3.

But the next star of the show was Scott McLaughlin, in his IndyCar debut, strapping on fresh primaries and all-but matching teammate Power’s P1 time.

The three-time Supercars champion – confirmed yesterday as an IndyCar full-timer in 2021 – made a couple of errors on his first flyer on alternates but appeared to be getting it right on his third until running into Turn 10 runoff.

However, the session had already been red-flagged with five minutes to go, as Rosenqvist spun and stalled heading into the final turn.

Meanwhile, James Hinchcliffe and then Andretti Autosport teammate Herta had moved the benchmark to 61.2279 and 61.1306sec respectively.

The session restarted with just 2m30sec remaining, but then Oliver Askew – returning to the #7 Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet after a one-event absence – skated straight on at the final turn and nosed into the tire barrier, while McLaughlin made a similar error without contact, and so the session ended under red.

Palou grabbed third ahead of Sato and Bourdais, while Alexander Rossi was sixth but needed his toe-link replaced after tagging a wall.

Other drivers made wall contact, including Ganassi's championship leader Scott Dixon ,who reported that the Firestone alternate tires go through a lull before offering their ultimate grip. He finished the session in 16th, just behind his teammates, but said the car was plenty fast enough and that his best lap had been ruined by a red flag.

The only man who can prevent Dixon taking the title, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, finished the session in eighth, just ahead of Power and McLaughlin, and just behind Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, who will claim IndyCar Rookie of the Year honors when he starts the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg tomorrow.

Qualifying begins at 3.05pm local (Eastern) time and reverts back to the normal IndyCar method of knockout qualifying. With one second covering the top 21 cars, it promises to be very tight.

1

United States
United States

Colton Herta

Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport

33

1'01.130

106.003

2

Canada
Canada

James Hinchcliffe

United States
United States

Andretti Autosport

37

1'01.227

0.097

105.834

3

Spain
Spain

Alex Palou

Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh

44

1'01.431

0.301

105.483

4

Japan
Japan

Takuma Sato

United States
United States

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

33

1'01.482

0.351

105.396

5

France
France

Sébastien Bourdais

United States
United States

A.J. Foyt Enterprises

41

1'01.515

0.384

105.340

6

United States
United States

Alexander Rossi

United States
United States

Andretti Autosport

31

1'01.578

0.447

105.232

7

Netherlands
Netherlands

Rinus van Kalmthout

United States
United States

Ed Carpenter Racing

44

1'01.612

0.482

105.173

8

United States
United States

Josef Newgarden

United States
United States

Team Penske

36

1'01.620

0.489

105.161

9

Australia
Australia

Will Power

United States
United States

Team Penske

38

1'01.627

0.497

105.148

10

New Zealand
New Zealand

Scott McLaughlin

United States
United States

Team Penske

45

1'01.677

0.546

105.063

11

United States
United States

Santino Ferrucci

Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan

39

1'01.695

0.564

105.032

12

United States
United States

Ryan Hunter-Reay

United States
United States

Andretti Autosport

34

1'01.707

0.577

105.011

13

United States
United States

Oliver Askew

Arrow McLaren SP

36

1'01.722

0.591

104.987

14

Sweden
Sweden

Marcus Ericsson

United States
United States

Chip Ganassi Racing

45

1'01.727

0.596

104.978

15

Sweden
Sweden

Felix Rosenqvist

United States
United States

Chip Ganassi Racing

42

1'01.729

0.598

104.975

16

New Zealand
New Zealand

Scott Dixon

United States
United States

Chip Ganassi Racing

36

1'01.845

0.715

104.777

17

Mexico
Mexico

Patricio O'Ward

Arrow McLaren SP

32

1'01.872

0.741

104.732

18

France
France

Simon Pagenaud

United States
United States

Team Penske

35

1'01.876

0.745

104.725

19

United States
United States

Conor Daly

United States
United States

Ed Carpenter Racing

36

1'01.921

0.791

104.648

20

United States
United States

Marco Andretti

Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco & Curb-Agajani

31

1'01.993

0.862

104.528

21

United States
United States

Charlie Kimball

United States
United States

A.J. Foyt Enterprises

37

1'02.125

0.994

104.305

22

United Kingdom
United Kingdom

Jack Harvey

United States
United States

Meyer Shank Racing

32

1'02.168

1.038

104.232

23

United Kingdom
United Kingdom

Max Chilton

United Kingdom
United Kingdom

Carlin

35

1'02.215

1.085

104.153

24

United States
United States

Graham Rahal

United States
United States

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

40

1'02.326

1.196

103.968

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