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Testing report

Herta fastest in opening day of Thermal Club IndyCar test

Colton Herta was fastest on the opening day of the IndyCar pre-season test at Thermal Club, having led in both morning and afternoon sessions.

The Andretti driver lapped the 17-turn 2.9-mile course in 1m39.3721s, beating his 1m39.9303s effort from the morning session.

The opening two-and-a-half-hour session featured two red flags – both for harmless spin-and-stalls by Felix Rosenqvist of Arrow McLaren and Helio Castroneves of Meyer Shank Racing.

Herta became the first driver to crack the 100-second barrier with a 1m39.9303s effort, an average of 110.489mph.  

That was just enough to pip his new team-mate, series sophomore Kyle Kirkwood, by 0.0933s, and the Meyer Shank car of Simon Pagenaud by 0.1875s. 

Herta raised the bar in the afternoon session where, unlike the morning’s session, several other drivers broke beneath the 100-second barrier.

His nearest pursuer was Rahal Letterman Lanigan's sophomore Christian Lundgaard, a mere 0.0046s in arrears, despite losing five minutes of track time as punishment for bringing out a red flag with a spin.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou, the 2021 IndyCar champion, was third fastest ahead of another Andretti driver, Romain Grosjean.

Reigning and two-time IndyCar champion, Team Penske’s Will Power, was fastest of the Chevrolet runners, 0.1969s off top spot to narrowly hold an edge over his longtime rival Scott Dixon in the second Ganassi entry.

The Juncos Hollinger Racing team showed superbly, with Callum Ilott clocking in at seventh fastest, and multiple TC2000 champion Agustin Canapino, a rookie in open-wheel racing of any kind, finishing the day 20th.

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda

Photo by: Chip Ganassi Racing

He did cause one of five red flags this afternoon with a spin and stall, but this could not detract from his on-track effort. Canapino’s best time was little more than one second slower than Herta’s benchmark and around 0.7s slower than Ilott. 

Penske's Scott McLaughlin was eighth fastest while Simon Pagenaud, fresh off his Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona win, was ninth fastest for Meyer Shank Racing.

Fastest rookie was former Formula 2 winner Marcus Armstrong, who will campaign the #11 Ganassi entry on road and street courses this year, and cede his seat to Takuma Sato for the ovals. However, he did cause the fifth and final red flag when his car stopped at pit entry at the close of the session.

Aside from Armstrong, Canapino, and Lundgaard, the other reds were caused by rookie Sting Ray Robb (Dale Coyne Racing) and Felix Rosenqvist (Arrow McLaren), the latter of whom also spun this morning.

Kyle Kirkwood’s failure to set a representative time in his Andretti car was due to a failed clutch.

Testing resumes at 9am local (Pacific) time on Friday.

IndyCar Thermal Club pre-season testing - day 1 times

P

Name

FTime

Diff

FL

Laps

Speed

Engine

Team

1

Colton Herta

1:39.3721

1:39.3721

17

23

111.110

Honda

Andretti Autosport w/Curb-Agajanian

2

Christian Lundgaard

1:39.3767

0.0046

26

29

111.105

Honda

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

3

Alex Palou

1:39.3970

0.0249

18

28

111.082

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

4

Romain Grosjean

1:39.4826

0.1105

19

25

110.986

Honda

Andretti Autosport

5

Will Power

1:39.5690

0.1969

23

26

110.890

Chevy

Team Penske

6

Scott Dixon

1:39.6211

0.2490

18

18

110.832

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

7

Callum Ilott

1:39.6673

0.2952

5

26

110.781

Chevy

Juncos Hollinger Racing

8

Scott McLaughlin

1:39.7657

0.3936

23

23

110.671

Chevy

Team Penske

9

Simon Pagenaud

1:39.7862

0.4141

18

23

110.649

Honda

Meyer Shank Racing

10

Marcus Armstrong

1:39.9077

0.5356

19

21

110.514

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

11

Rinus VeeKay

1:39.9408

0.5687

20

21

110.477

Chevy

Ed Carpenter Racing

12

Marcus Ericsson

1:39.9746

0.6025

13

24

110.440

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

13

Devlin DeFrancesco

1:39.9805

0.6084

29

29

110.434

Honda

Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport

14

David Malukas

1:40.0088

0.6367

25

27

110.402

Honda

Dale Coyne Racing with HMD

15

Pato O'Ward

1:40.0468

0.6747

15

24

110.360

Chevy

Arrow McLaren

16

Alexander Rossi

1:40.1446

0.7725

6

11

110.253

Chevy

Arrow McLaren

17

Josef Newgarden

1:40.3516

0.9795

21

26

110.025

Chevy

Team Penske

18

Jack Harvey

1:40.3712

0.9991

7

21

110.004

Honda

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

19

Felix Rosenqvist

1:40.3928

1.0207

5

18

109.980

Chevy

Arrow McLaren

20

Agustin Canapino

1:40.4464

1.0743

30

30

109.921

Chevy

Juncos Holling Racing

21

Graham Rahal

1:40.5516

1.1795

3

22

109.806

Honda

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

22

Conor Daly

1:40.5622

1.1901

20

21

109.795

Chevy

Ed Carpenter Racing

23

Santino Ferrucci

1:40.5724

1.2003

15

15

109.784

Chevy

AJ Foyt Enterprises

24

Helio Castroneves

1:40.7349

1.3628

12

32

109.607

Honda

Meyer Shank Racing

25

Sting Ray Robb

1:41.1557

1.7836

29

31

109.151

Honda

Dale Coyne Racing w/RWR

26

Benjamin Pedersen

1:41.5312

2.1591

20

25

108.747

Chevy

AJ Foyt Enterprises

27

Kyle Kirkwood

2:01.4916

0.0000

1

1

90.880

Honda

Andretti Autosport

 

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