Pagenaud leads first practice in INDYCAR's Road America return

Updated: 

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Indy cars took to Road America in competition today for the first time in nine years, kicking off the first practice ahead of Sunday's KOHLER Grand Prix. Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Simon Pagenaud led the opening session as the 22-car field attacked the 4.014-mile road course and drivers looked to familiarize or re-familiarize themselves with the circuit.

Pagenaud's fastest lap was timed at 1 minute, 43.4804 seconds (139.644 mph), as the pilot of the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet will compete in just his second Indy car race at the Wisconsin road course.

“It’s great (to be back),” said the Frenchman. “What a fantastic place this is, especially with the Indy cars. These days, we go so fast through the corners, you’ve got to brake really deep and you barely have time to downshift through the gears to the apex, so it’s pretty intense.”

CLICK HERE: KOHLER Grand Prix practice 1 results

Following Pagenaud on the time sheet were Carlos Munoz in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda (1:43.5560), Jack Hawksworth in the No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda (1:43.6747) and the Chip Ganassi Racing Teams duo of Scott Dixon (No. 9 Clorox Chevrolet, 1:43.8849) and Tony Kanaan (NTT Data Chevrolet, 1:44.1296).

Hawksworth was encouraged with the morning showing, following a difficult first half of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

“It was nice to have a clean session and no real big issues or anything,” the third-year Indy car driver said. “So we just worked through things and found our way (to third quickest) at the end. Still a long way to go and a lot to do, but a good start to the weekend.”

Like most drivers, Hawksworth, who raced at Road America in sports cars in 2014, is happy to see the Verizon IndyCar Series at Road America.

“I really enjoy the track, it’s old, it’s a long, big track, longer than two-and-a-half miles, three miles. It’s a proper racetrack, so it’s fun, good fun to be here.”

This weekend's event marks the return of Indy cars to the circuit for the first time since 2007. Of the 22 drivers entered, only nine have raced at Road America in an Indy car. Of those, KVSH Racing's Sebastien Bourdais is the only former winner, claiming victory in 2007 when he drove for Newman/Haas Racing in the Champ Car World Series – one of eight wins for Bourdais that season on his way to a record fourth consecutive Indy car championship.

Pagenaud, who raced for Team Australia in that same event, is optimistic that this year’s race will be as entertaining on the high-speed permanent road course in the Kettle Moraine of Wisconsin. 

"I think we’re going to have a good race,” he said. “The straights are so long, with the drag we have on the cars for downforce, it will produce good racing.”

The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to the track for practice this afternoon, with the green flag scheduled to fly at 4 p.m. ET. It will be streamed live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com.

Drivers will have a third practice Saturday (noon-12:45 p.m. ET, RaceControl.IndyCar.com) ahead of Verizon P1 Award qualifying at 4 p.m. ET (streamed live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, delayed broadcast on NBCSN at 5:30 p.m. ET). Coverage of Sunday's 50-lap KOHLER Grand Prix will begin at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Rank

Car

Driver Name

C/A/E/T

Time

Speed

Diff

Gap

Best Lap

Total Laps

1

22

Pagenaud, Simon

D/C/C/F

01:43.4804

139.644

--.----

--.----

7

11

2

26

Munoz, Carlos

D/H/H/F

01:43.5560

139.542

0.0756

0.0756

12

12

3

41

Hawksworth, Jack

D/H/H/F

01:43.6747

139.382

0.1943

0.1187

14

15

4

9

Dixon, Scott

D/C/C/F

01:43.8849

139.100

0.4045

0.2102

13

15

5

10

Kanaan, Tony

D/C/C/F

01:44.1246

138.780

0.6442

0.2397

9

9

6

27

Andretti, Marco

D/H/H/F

01:44.1296

138.773

0.6492

0.0050

13

14

7

98

Rossi, Alexander (R)

D/H/H/F

01:44.2805

138.572

0.8001

0.1509

8

14

8

5

Hinchcliffe, James

D/H/H/F

01:44.2812

138.571

0.8008

0.0007

13

14

9

15

Rahal, Graham

D/H/H/F

01:44.3037

138.542

0.8233

0.0225

5

9

10

21

Newgarden, Josef

D/C/C/F

01:44.4318

138.372

0.9514

0.1281

15

15

11

2

Montoya, Juan Pablo

D/C/C/F

01:44.5035

138.277

1.0231

0.0717

12

13

12

12

Power, Will

D/C/C/F

01:44.5234

138.250

1.0430

0.0199

5

16

13

28

Hunter-Reay, Ryan

D/H/H/F

01:44.5473

138.219

1.0669

0.0239

4

9

14

20

Pigot, Spencer (R)

D/C/C/F

01:44.6766

138.048

1.1962

0.1293

13

13

15

11

Bourdais, Sebastien

D/C/C/F

01:44.6940

138.025

1.2136

0.0174

10

14

16

3

Castroneves, Helio

D/C/C/F

01:44.8184

137.861

1.3380

0.1244

3

9

17

8

Chilton, Max (R)

D/C/C/F

01:44.9057

137.747

1.4253

0.0873

7

10

18

14

Sato, Takuma

D/H/H/F

01:44.9381

137.704

1.4577

0.0324

10

16

19

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

D/H/H/F

01:45.0189

137.598

1.5385

0.0808

17

17

20

83

Kimball, Charlie

D/C/C/F

01:45.3892

137.115

1.9088

0.3703

8

14

21

19

Chaves, Gabby

D/H/H/F

01:45.7856

136.601

2.3052

0.3964

13

16

22

18

Daly, Conor (R)

D/H/H/F

01:46.0191

136.300

2.5387

0.2335

7

14

(R) Rookie (C)hassis: D=Dallara | (A)erokit: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (E)ngine: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (T)ire: F=Firestone

Total Laps: 289

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