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IndyCar Barber: Under-fire Newgarden leads opening practice

Josef Newgarden blocked out the outside noise around his recent St. Petersburg disqualification to lead opening practice session at Barber Motorsports Park on Friday afternoon.

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Two-time IndyCar Series champion and reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Newgarden set the pace with a flying lap of 1m06.7045s in the No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet around the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course.

The session occurred just a few hours after he gave an emotional press conference about his disqualification from the opening round at St. Petersburg.

Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward, who led the early portion of the session, concluded the 75-minute session in second at 0.083s behind Newgarden.

Will Power continued to showcase Penske’s prowess to focus forward to wrap up in third, 0.0869. Andretti Global’s Colton Herta collected fourth by session’s end.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard finished fifth, ahead of Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Romain Grosjean sixth.

Grosjean had a tense moment with Dale Coyne Racing’s Jack Harvey late in the running, appearing to run him to the grass between Turns 3 and 4, which left Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi to fire through the gap between them while approaching with significantly more pace.

Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) was seventh, with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Armstrong eighth, Scott McLaughlin (Team Penske) ninth and Marcus Ericsson (Andretti Global) wrapped up the final spot of the top 10 in 10th.

There were multiple red flags in the session, with Newgarden causing the first after spinning wildly off course in Turn 13 at just under 15 minutes into the start of the practice session. He admitted he “wasn’t on his game” and that he lost a set of tyres as a result.

Sophomore driver Agustin Canapino also had an off-track moment roughly 10 minutes later, skating off in Turn 1 after the backend of his No. 78 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet snapped around.

While the likes of O’Ward, reigning and two-time series champion Alex Palou, Grosjean, McLaughlin and Ericsson all occupied the top spot, Newgarden’s vault to the top came in the final 15 minutes to secure the spot for good.

There is another 75-minute practice at 12:15pm ET tomorrow before qualifying begins at 3:30pm.

Pos  Nº   Driver   Car / Engine   Time   Gap   Laps 
2 Josef Newgarden Dallara/Chevrolet 1'06.7045   20
5 Patricio O'Ward Dallara/Chevrolet 1'06.7875 0.0830 25
12 Will Power Dallara/Chevrolet 1'06.7914 0.0869 26
26 Colton Herta Dallara/Honda 1'06.8002 0.0957 26
45 C.Lundgaard Dallara/Honda 1'06.8972 0.1927 39
77 Romain Grosjean Dallara/Chevrolet 1'06.9639 0.2594 28
15 Graham Rahal Dallara/Honda 1'06.9679 0.2634 29
11 Marcus Armstrong Dallara/Honda 1'06.9689 0.2644 31
3 Scott McLaughlin Dallara/Chevrolet 1'07.0935 0.3890 24
10  28 Marcus Ericsson Dallara/Honda 1'07.1481 0.4436 29
11  14 Santino Ferrucci Dallara/Chevrolet 1'07.1823 0.4778 28
12  10 Alex Palou Dallara/Honda 1'07.2815 0.5770 21
13  20 C.Rasmussen Dallara/Chevrolet 1'07.4418 0.7373 33
14  21 R.van Kalmthout Dallara/Chevrolet 1'07.4780 0.7735 27
15  8 Linus Lundqvist Dallara/Honda 1'07.5089 0.8044 36
16  78 Agustín Canapino Dallara/Chevrolet 1'07.5413 0.8368 24
17  60 Felix Rosenqvist Dallara/Honda 1'07.5953 0.8908 21
18  27 Kyle Kirkwood Dallara/Honda 1'07.6122 0.9077 21
19  66 Tom Blomqvist Dallara/Honda 1'07.6244 0.9199 30
20  30 P.Fittipaldi Dallara/Honda 1'07.7388 1.0343 39
21  9 Scott Dixon Dallara/Honda 1'07.7424 1.0379 24
22  7 Alexander Rossi Dallara/Chevrolet 1'07.8176 1.1131 26
23  18 Jack Harvey Dallara/Honda 1'07.9210 1.2165 25
24  4 Kyffin Simpson Dallara/Honda 1'07.9365 1.2320 37
25  6 Théo Pourchaire Dallara/Chevrolet 1'08.0083 1.3038 35
26  41 Sting Ray Robb Dallara/Chevrolet 1'08.5832 1.8787 27
27  51 Luca Ghiotto Dallara/Honda 1'08.6638 1.9593 39

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