Palou shoots ahead on Firestone reds in first Road America practice

Friday’s lone NTT IndyCar Series practice at Road America got off to an interesting start as Nolan Siegel was announced an hour before the session as the substitute for Agustin Canapino. The 4 p.m. ET green flag waved without Siegel’s No. 78 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevy on pit lane. The Indy NXT driver’s car finally rolled into its pit box at 4:11 p.m. and Siegel rolled out at 4:16 p.m.

The first red flag of the session was triggered by his new teammate Romain Grosjean, who went off at Turn 14 in the No. 77 Chevy and broke the left-front suspension from the car. Once the course was cleared, teams got down to business and it was Colton Herta who went to the top, with Josef Newgarden in tow.

The clock kept winding and Herta stayed in P1 with his lap of 1m43.3164s holding firm as the session dipped below 30 minutes to go. It was an encouraging start brewing for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team as Christian Lundgaard held third as the session counted down to 20 minutes remaining, and he had teammate Pietro Fittipaldi in fifth, right behind Alex Palou. RLL’s Graham Rahal wasn’t far behind in ninth.


At the 10-minute mark, most teams migrated from running on Firestone’s primary tires to the red-banded alternates to start their qualifying simulation runs and that’s where Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou motored to the fastest lap of the day with a 1m43.1709s tour of the 4.0-mile course in the No. 10 Honda.

“It’s a really great start so far,” Palou said. “It doesn’t mean anything; it just means that the car is really good, easy to drive. It’s great to be back here — a proper track for IndyCar. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Herta made it a Honda 1-2 with his No. 26 Andretti Global entry with a 1m43.2506s lap, and the surprise of the session, A.J. Foyt Racing’s Santino Ferrucci, was third in the No. 14 Chevy with a 1m43.3618s lap.

Siegel, with no notice, was slowest as expected, but was only 0.1367s slower than regular teammate Jack Harvey at Dale Coyne Racing.

UP NEXT: FP2, 11:10 a.m. ET, on Peacock.


Story originally appeared on Racer