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Newgarden Returns to the Best Spot in Mid-Ohio

Newgarden Returns to the Best Spot in Mid-Ohio

Josef Newgarden’s summer heat continued Friday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The two-time winner of this permanent course picked up where he had finished in the most recent NTT INDYCAR SERIES race – at Road America – by topping the practice lists here Friday in the only session of the day preparing for the Honda Indy from Sunday 200 in Mid-Ohio Presented by the all-new 2023 Civic Type R (12:30 pm ET, live on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network).

Newgarden drove the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet to a best lap time of 1 minute 7.0549 seconds on the 13 corner, 2.258 mile permanent road.

CLICK: NTT INDYCAR SERIES Exercise 1 Results

Newgarden’s first three wins of the season were at Texas Motor Speedway (March 20), the streets of Long Beach (April 10) and at Road America (June 12). The weekend before Road America, he scored the NTT P1 Award for pole at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park.

Newgarden is also the defending winner in Mid-Ohio.

“The car feels really good,” he said. “I think the (temperatures) definitely made the fall rate slow, and it felt really hard to drive the car today to get it up to temperature.

“I am relatively happy. I think our car was well off the truck.”

Defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Alex Palou finished the 75-minute session second on the sheet with a best lap time of 1:07.2610 in the #10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Felix Rosenqvist rounded out the top three with a best lap time of 1:07.3171 in the No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

The session contained 673 laps compared to last year’s first practice (461).

Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Marcus Ericsson, who finished second in this race in 2021, finished the day fourth in the No. 8 Ridgeline Lubricants Honda at 1:07.3720, and Colton Herta rounded out the top five in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda for Andretti Autosport w/Curb-Agajanian at 1:07.4998.

David Malukas was the fastest rookie of the session, clocking eighth with a best lap of 1:07.5361 in the #18 HMD Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports. He completed 26 laps in his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES session in Mid-Ohio.

“Everything from our side, I think it was very good,” said Malukas. “From the beginning to the end of that session it was good. Mid-Ohio is so special because every time you get out on the track it feels completely different, and the track conditions to start the session were very difficult to say the least. †

All 27 drivers in the field battled through the summer heat, with several drivers noting how challenging the 90-degree mid-day was. After practice, Newgarden said he has “seldom been this hot in the car”.

While Newgarden, a two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion, defeated Palou, the reigning series champion, by more than two-tenths of a second, the rest of the field was much more compact, with first and 20th places just 1 second apart.

The only incident of the session came with about 40 minutes to go. Two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato lost control of the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda at Turn 1 and went off the track and into the gravel pit.

Sato’s Dale Coyne Racing with RWR machine suffered no significant damage and continued to pit lane while the track went into red flag conditions.

The only other off-course excursion came with about 25 minutes to go in practice. Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean spun into the number 28 ForeverLawn/DHL Honda at Turn 12. He kept the car energized and no red flag was thrown.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES is back on track in Mid-Ohio Saturday with Practice 2 at 9:30am (ET), followed by qualifying for the NTT P1 Award for pole at 2:45pm. Both sessions are live on Peacock Premium and INDYCAR Radio Network.

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