As the NTT IndyCar Series rolls into Road America for this weekend’s race, the biggest question swirling the paddock was how will the drivers adapt to the new paved surface? It didn’t take long at all.
When the checkered flag waved to signal the end of the first practice on Friday for this weekend’s Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America, Arrow McLaren driver Alexander Rossi found himself at the top of the leaderboard posting the quickest lap of the session at 1:41.7790.
Rossi is no stranger to success at Road America. While driving for Andretti Autosport, in eight career starts at Road America, Rossi has posted a win along with three top-five finishes and a pole.
During the post-practice press conference, Rossi was asked about the new racing surface, “Really you don’t do anything different. I think it’s just there’s more potential from the car and the tire, so you have to have probably a higher level of commitment than you did last year.”
“Last year with the surface, I never thought it was particularly bumpy, but the car slid around on the track quite a bit more than it does now. It’s quite a bit in the track, similar to what Watkins Glen was like when it was repaved, what Barber was like when it was repaved. You feel the car digging in more than you did before. But everyone has that advantage now. Really your approach is no different whether it was low grip or high grip.”
Contenders Following Alexander Rossi
Following Rossi on the leaderboard after practice session #1 on Friday was Dale Coyne Racing’s David Malukas with a best lap of 1:41.8652. Behind Malukas in third was 2021 series champion and current points leader Alex Palou in the No. 10 Honda.
Checking in at P4 was Palou’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon with a lap of 1:41.9544.
This race is a homecoming of sorts for Malukas being a native of Chicago and only 2 hours and 40 minutes from home, Malukas was asked about it during the post-practice press conference and he responded, “Yeah, it’s very exciting. We’ve had a lot of success here in the past going through the ladder series.”
“Leading up to it, we’ve done a lot of different interviews and things, channels in Chicago, to boost the fans here. Obviously being here today, a lot of Chicago natives. I met someone that went to the same middle school that I went to, which is cool and interesting.”
“No, it’s very special and amazing. Unfortunately, we really wanted to kind of do an HMD Bar & Grill pop-up shop here, do a nice cookout thing. Unfortunately, it didn’t really work out for us. Maybe next year. But, yeah, very exciting.”
Up Next: Practice 2 – 10:55 AM (EST) on Peacock