Palou leads IndyCar morning test at Thermal Club

Chip Ganassi Racing’s strategy to send its drivers out early in Friday’s 9-11am opening test session gave the defending champions an opportunity to learn the track in the same conditions it will face Sunday morning in the $1 Million Challenge all-star heat races at The Thermal Club.

Reigning champion Alex Palou put down a quick lap of 1m39.515s on his fourth lap, and with a 9:36am start for the first heat race, the Spaniard and those few who joined him at the start of the two-hour session gained valuable insights on how to tune their cars for the competition that awaits them on Sunday.

Palou’s No. 10 Honda was followed by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard (+0.182s), Ganassi teammate Marcus Armstrong was third (+0.216s) for a Honda 1-2-3, and behind them, Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi (+0.241s) and Pato O’Ward (+0.396s) were the leading Chevy runners. Ganassi’s Linus Lundqvist completed the top six (+0.405s) amid temperatures in the mid-70s were experienced for most of the outing.


Thanks to the 3.0-mile, 17-turn road course’s unique layout which features a number of fast and sweeping corners that place high side loading on the cars for extended periods of time, tire degradation was the main topic of interest Friday morning.

“It’s tough to really learn much; the tire deg is really high,” Lundgaard said. “I think everyone’s dropping a half-second to seven-tenths [per set].”

Other than a few trips into runoff areas, no caution periods were required. Action resumes from 2-5pm PT on Peacock.


Story originally appeared on Racer