VeeKay Vaults to the Top of Pre-Qualification Training at Barber

VeeKay Vaults to the Top of Pre-Qualification Training at Barber

Rinus VeeKay jumped to the top of the speed charts during pre-qualifying practice for the Honda Indy Alabama Grand Prix presented by AmFirst on Saturday morning at Barber Motorsports Park.

VeeKay’s best lap was 1 minute and 5.9264 seconds in the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing’s SONAX Chevrolet, fastest lap of the weekend so far after two practice sessions. It was a significant improvement from his best practice lap on Friday, 1:07.1155, finishing 10th overall.

SEE: Practice results on Saturday

“I knew we had potential yesterday; but we didn’t know we had the potential to be the fastest,” said VeeKay. “The reds (Firestone alternative tyres) really give us what we need now. There is a bit of time to be found on the black tires (Firestone primary tires), but I am satisfied. Being fast is fun.”

Pato O’Ward was second fastest after a best lap of 1:06:0136 in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. Colton Herta, fastest Friday, was again the best Honda with a fast lap of 1:06.0434 in the No.26 Gainbridge Honda for third overall.

St. Petersburg race winner Scott McLaughlin continued his steady weekend, finishing fourth at 1:06.1233 in the #3 Sonsio Team Penske Chevrolet. Romain Grosjean joined Andretti Autosport teammate Herta in the top five with his best lap of 1:06.2170 in the No. 28 Enevate/DHL Honda.

NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship Leader Josef Newgarden was 11th in the session at 1:06.6092 in the No. 3 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet.

The NTT P1 Award qualifier is scheduled for 1:00 PM this afternoon on the 17-turn, 2.3-mile track, with live coverage on Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network. The 90-lap race kicks off Sunday at 1:15 PM, with live coverage on NBC, Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Grosjean was one of three drivers who went off the track and spun into the gravel next to Turn 7 about 25 minutes into the session. He was able to continue without assistance.

His teammate, 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, was not so lucky during his incident. Rossi went wide and spun into Turn 17 about 13 minutes into the session, making heavy contact with the Armco barrier. The right and rear sides of Rossi’s No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda suffered extensive damage, with crew members from all four Andretti Autosport teams joining forces in the paddock to replace its engine and rebuild the car before qualified.

“It was probably too early in the tire’s life and took too much of it out in Turn 17,” said Rossi. “Unfortunate mistake on my part. There’s a huge number of guys, lots of different colored shirts here. It will be a team effort and they will make it happen. I think we’ll be fine. We’ll see what qualifying brings.”

2014 series champion Will Power spun into the gravel pit at Turn 7 after hitting his No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet jumped over a curb. Power needed a drag off the gravel, but Team Penske was able to check and service the car in time to allow Power to get back on track in the final two minutes of the session.

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