IndyCar Texas: Newgarden leads final practice, Harvey crashes

Josef Newgarden moved to the top of the times in final IndyCar practice at Texas Motor Speedway, but Jack Harvey’s difficult start at Rahal Letterman Lanigan continued with a major crash.

IndyCar Texas: Newgarden leads final practice, Harvey crashes

Harvey, who qualified only 24th yet was fastest of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan-Hondas in a strangely poor event for the team so far, was on his 26th lap of the 1.5-mile track in final practice when his car understeered in the middle of Turn 2.

Harvey downchanged, his car started oversteering, and its right-rear wheel appeared barely to kiss the wall, but it was enough to unsettle the car and wrench it out of the Briton's control.

It looped around and across the track to make heavy contact with the inside wall and then slid along the back straight to Turn 3.

Thankfully, Harvey - who struck a wall in St. Petersburg, too - was able to step from the car unaided, and the RLL team started to build up the spare tub for Sunday’s race.

By contrast, Harvey’s team-mates had a somewhat reassuring session, their cars clearly quick in the draft, with rookie Christian Lundgaard fourth and Graham Rahal seventh, but coming from the back of the field will be difficult without taking major strategy risks, given the difficulty of passing here.

Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

That said, before this final practice, seven drivers did endeavour to open up a second lane through the turns with a 30-minute session that involved Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Takuma Sato, Rahal, Ed Carpenter, Pato O’Ward and polesitter Felix Rosenqvist running the high line – exceptionally high line in the case of Castroneves.

The results appeared somewhat inconclusive, in that the drivers could keep their cars away from the wall, but were still having to feather the throttle in order to make it through, thus ensuring the high line was slower.

Come FP2 proper, Team Penske’s two-time IndyCar champion Newgarden went to the top of the speed charts on his 23rd of 73 laps, whereas his closest pursuer Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing set his best time in the draft on his 60th of 65 laps.

Rosenqvist proved his car was stable in the draft with third fastest ahead of Lundgaard, while Colton Herta led the Andretti Autosport contingent in fifth.

Takuma Sato of Dale Coyne Racing with RWR proved his quali pace could be backed up by race pace with sixth fastest.

As well as Lundgaard, two other drivers relatively unfamiliar with Texas Motor Speedway in Romain Grosjean and Devlin De Francesco also crept into the top 10, the latter surviving an alarming tail-happy moment out of Turn 4 to draft past his new team-mate.

Jimmie Johnson, who will be making his oval IndyCar debut, was a commendable 13th on a track where he won seven times in a NASCAR Cup car. He was also the busiest driver this afternoon, turning 100 laps.

IndyCar Texas Practice results

Cla Driver Team Laps Time Gap Mph
1 Brazil Helio Castroneves United States Meyer Shank Racing 31 23.906   216.842
2 Australia Will Power United States Team Penske 44 24.546 0.639 211.193
3 Sweden Felix Rosenqvist United States Arrow McLaren SP 31 24.822 0.915 208.841
4 Japan Takuma Sato United States Dale Coyne Racing 53 24.952 1.045 207.759
5 United States Graham Rahal United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 55 25.144 1.237 206.168
6 United States Ed Carpenter United States Ed Carpenter Racing 43 25.234 1.327 205.432
7 Mexico Patricio O'Ward United States Arrow McLaren SP 37 25.448 1.541 203.709
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