Power & Newgarden breaks track record in opening gateway practice

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IndyCar Series returned to Gateway Motorsports Park in speedy fashion, with two drivers logging laps in opening practice for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline under the official track record.

Team Penske teammates Will Power and Josef Newgarden each turned laps on the 1.25-mile oval quicker than the lap standard set 20 years ago by Raul Boesel of 24.324 seconds. Since track records may only be set in qualifying or a race, Boesel’s mark will hold up at least until this evening’s Verizon P1 Award qualifying session 

Power is fresh off a win five days ago at Pocono Raceway – his third victory of the season. The Australian also drew the favored last position in the order for this evening’s qualifying.

“There’s lot more grip, it’s way smoother,” Power said of the recently repaved Gateway surface. “It was a very quick session, so we’ll go back and think about qualifying, what we’ve got to do. Going last in line, so that’s good. Get to see how people do first.”

Indy cars haven’t race at Gateway – situated just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis – since 2003. Making qualifying simulation runs late in the 60-minute opening practice, Power ran a lap of 24.2521 seconds (185.551 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet to lead the 21-car field. Championship leader Newgarden, in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevy, was second at 24.2635 seconds (185.464 mph).

Team Penske drivers nailed down the top four spots in the practice, with Simon Pagenaud third in the No. 1 Menards Chevrolet (24.4552 seconds, 184.010 mph) and Helio Castroneves fourth in the No. 3 Shell Fuel Rewards Chevrolet (24.4598 seconds, 183.975 mph).

Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Ed Jones was the fastest non-Penske and non-Chevrolet with a lap of 24.5365 seconds 183.400 mph in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda. Sebastien Bourdais, Jones’ teammate at Dale Coyne Racing, made his first competitive appearance since fracturing his right hip and pelvis in a May 20 crash while qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais was 15th on the speed chart with a lap of 24.8177 seconds 181.322 mph.

Newgarden takes an 18-point lead over Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon into the Bommarito Automotive Group 500, the 15th of 17 races in the 2017 IndyCar Series season.

source: indycar.com