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Scott Dixon leads rain-shortened first practice at Texas

by racedaysaeditor | Posted on Thursday, June 6th, 2019

Courtesy of the NTT IndyCar Series

FORT WORTH, Texas – Rain cut a scheduled two-hour practice session at Texas Motor Speedway by more than half Thursday evening, but it couldn’t stop defending DXC Technology 600 winner Scott Dixon from setting the pace again.

Scott Dixon. Photo by Chris Jones

DXC TECHNOLOGY 600: Practice 1 results

The reigning and five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion turned the fastest lap in the abbreviated practice on the high-banked 1.5-mile oval, at 219.308 mph in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. The session was limited to little more than 30 minutes of true green-flag practice time, first by a light rain and then by a heavy shower that soaked the facility.

“Unfortunately, we got the weather,” Dixon said. “We didn’t really get to run as much as we would have liked.

“It started OK today,” he added. “(We) had a few issues, I think, with balance. I think a lot of people have (too) just with the added temperature, especially from when we tested here (in March). That was interesting for us.”

Scott Dixon. Photo by Chris Owens

Dixon needed only 25 laps to set the fast speed. Only one driver, Charlie Kimball, made fewer circuits (19) in the practice. Drivers will have just one hour of practice Friday afternoon before NTT P1 Award qualifying Friday evening and Saturday’s race under the lights.

Takuma Sato was second fastest of the 22 drivers in Thursday’s practice, with a lap of 219.262 mph in the No. 30 ABeam Consulting Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

“Tonight, I felt pretty comfortable,” Sato said. “Still (there’s) a lot of work to be done in traffic. I was obviously looking forward to a little bit more traffic runs, go through the (full) stint, (see) how the balance shift will be. But obviously with the rain, we cannot do anything at the moment.”

Dixon, who won Sunday’s second race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear doubleheader, is a three-time winner at Texas. Other past winners on the oval entered this weekend are Graham Rahal, who was third in Thursday’s practice (218.311 mph); Will Power, fifth in practice (217.196); and Ed Carpenter, 10th in practice (216.653).

The final practice starts at 3 p.m. ET Friday and streams live on NBC Sports Gold. Qualifying airs live at 6:30 p.m. Friday on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold.

Saturday’s race will be the 31st for the NTT IndyCar Series at Texas, dating to when the facility opened in 1997. Race coverage commences at 8 p.m. on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

‘What They’re Saying’ from DXC Technology 600 practice

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 Fitzgerald USA Team Penske Chevrolet, NTT IndyCar Series points leader): “It was a short evening session. Not what we wanted necessarily, but I think we’ll get a little more time tomorrow. A couple things to work on, but I think we got an initial read and the Fitzgerald Chevy doesn’t feel too bad. I think we’ll be in the fight, just need to make sure we get our practice time in tomorrow and go through our checklist, hopefully, have a good qualifying car and then we’ll work on the race after that.” 

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): 
“It’s great to be back in Texas. Feeling good because I think the car was pretty decent when I ran. Of course, we have a few things to improve for tomorrow. The session got cut short because of the rain, but it’s the same for everyone, so no complaints. We’ll work to have a good car for qualifying, and hopefully, a good car for the race. I’m looking forward to the event. We’ll have a lot of people from the team and ABC Supply around, so it will be fun.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “It’s unfortunate that the rain came and shortened the session, but I’m certainly happy that we got a few runs in. The No. 5 Arrow car feels better off the truck than we were at this point last year, so it’s a reason to be optimistic. We were dealing with truck rubber (from series on track previously) that session, so it’s not 100 percent indicative of what we’ll be racing on, but it’s a good start.”

MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “What an amazing day. The sun was shining, then it was raining, then there was a beautiful rainbow. Seriously though, it was good to be back. I did my first oval test here a few months ago now and I’ve gotten some experience on ovals since. It was cool to see the difference from where I was at and I was feeling a lot more comfortable than, obviously, the first time I was on an oval when I was here last time. With that said though, it’s a very different type of track compared to Indy (Indianapolis Motor Speedway). Today, I was still building up to it through the session, and unfortunately, the rain came. Not ideal for me because I’m still learning every lap that I’m out on the oval, it’s still a process for me. The Arrow SPM guys gave me a solid car to work with. I think even with the lack of running, we’re going into tomorrow with a good feeling, so hopefully, we can have some nicer weather then.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, 2018 Texas race winner): “Unfortunately, today we just ran into weather. It’s nice to come in here and talk, but it’s early days on the weekend and we really haven’t even gotten started. The PNC Bank car feels decent right out of the gate and I hope we can get some additional track time tomorrow from INDYCAR to help with dialing in the cars.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda):
 “We were just getting comfortable and turning laps and settling in with the NTT DATA car. I was feeling good in Turns 3 and 4, but wasn’t real happy with Turns 1 and 2. It’s too bad the rain came because we could have used that long session tonight and all that track time.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a good session for the Verizon Chevy team. I think we got the car in a reasonable window, so we just need to continue working on it. With practice getting cut short, everyone is in the same boat for tomorrow. We’re going to have to try setting the car up in hot temperatures, which is always difficult to understand, so we’ll just do our best. We’re ready to work hard to figure out the best setup prior to qualifying.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet):
 “It was a short day for us, but an OK start. We were working more on race setup, so we have a few things to fix. We have a new tire, so we’re still trying to understand what’s going on.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care Honda): “Right off the bat, the Fleet Cost & Care car was pretty competitive. The speed was there, which was nice. When I saw the speed flash up on my second or third lap, it was a 215 (mph) already, which was a little bit of a surprise. It wasn’t a great tow, and yet the speed was there, so the car’s got some pace. I think both of ours (Takuma Sato) do, so we’ve just got to do some tweaking overnight. The race is going to be a big guess at this point because it’s going to be hotter and the truck race is before ours, but in general, I feel pretty good.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda): “It’s awesome to be back at Texas Motor Speedway. The track feels really different from when I was here in October for our private test, especially with the heat and the tires. I was really, really happy with the car and how everything was reacting so far in our rained-shortened practice session. I think Firestone did a really good job preparing a good tire for us to race on. I’m excited to see what we have in store for tomorrow.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): 
“Obviously, it was a short session with the storm coming through. We did get a through a couple of changes we wanted to try, but didn’t quite get to everything. Race setup-wise, I think we are OK. I would have like to have made more improvement for qualifying. We have a little work to do to get ultimate pace out of the car. It was a better practice than what we started with here last year.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “It was nice to get back on track here at Texas. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much running in, just one decent run. We’ll look to get a bit more track time tomorrow in the sun and see where we can improve. So far, it feels like the car is in a good place and we have the potential to make some good gains.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “It’s always fun to be here in Texas with the high banks. Getting back in the rhythm, we didn’t really get to run much because of the rain that came in, but it’s always a lot of fun here. It was an interesting session to assess the new Firestone tires. We’ll see tomorrow. I think we’ll dial in the DXC Technology Chevy tomorrow. We have some good information so far and we’ll see what we have tomorrow.” 

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Fiasp Carlin Chevrolet): “We’re coming out of today with a great baseline, even with the session cut short. We had a small electronic issue at the beginning of the session, really just a weird little gremlin, but once we got running, we found that we had a really good foundation. The car was really solid in both traffic and in clean air – it just felt really good out there. Unfortunately, the rain came through before we were able to start working through our test list and developing the car, but I’m pretty happy with how the No. 23 Fiasp Carlin Chevrolet rolled off the truck. I’m looking forward to seeing what we have for qualifying tomorrow.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): 
“I was really happy with today, actually. I feel like we’ve taken momentum from Detroit. Texas has always been a track that I love and I think we are in the top three as far as no-tows (speeds without a draft) and P8 overall. I think we really have a shot to redeem ourselves. Last year, we went from 16th to third in a single stint, then I made a small mistake. I’d love to be able to say Texas is the place where I got my first NTT IndyCar Series win – but a lot has to happen between now and Saturday night.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 GESS / Capstone Honda): “We got through some key changes before the rain came, which is pretty good. We’re leaving today fairly happy with the GESS / Capstone car. Hopefully, we can move the next step forward during final practice tomorrow and challenge for the front row in qualifying.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “I think for the amount of time on track, we got a lot done with the DHL car. So, despite the rain, it was productive and I have a positive outlook moving forward to tomorrow. Plus, I saw my first double rainbow today.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 ABeam Consulting Honda): “I feel good. Honestly, I think it’s a bit early to say for the tires and downforce and stuff. I don’t know if Scott (Dixon) (also said this in his press conference), but we had only few laps, to be honest. Did not even get through, I don’t know, half of the stint, I wouldn’t think. I think Firestone did a great job to bring the tire that has a really good feeling, solid feeling, more downforce than last year. But not only that, I think Firestone doing a great job. So, I was obviously looking forward to a little bit more traffic runs, to go through the stint and see how the balance shift will be. But, obviously, with the rain, we cannot do anything at the moment.”
 
CONOR DALY (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “Obviously, this is a super new situation for me, so it was really good to get out there and start turning some laps here at Texas Motor Speedway. I haven’t been here since 2017, so it’s really nice to get back out on track here. It’s a very different platform from what I’m used to, so I’m just trying to get used to that. We just need to figure a few things out with the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet, but overall, I’m feeling good about where we are.”

COLTON HERTA (No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda): 
“I don’t have a lot to say about today since we didn’t get a lot of running in from the rain. We did get a good feel of the effects of the aero and we feel great about the car. Tomorrow will be busy. We have a lot of sets of tires and we qualify, so let’s see if we can have a great day on track.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda): “Honestly, we don’t really know where we stand. We’ll make some changes overnight and see how they stack up tomorrow. Today’s practice was important, but just felt like a shakedown. We were just getting settled and now we have to get into qualifying mode. It’s interesting, we have to get it right, for sure. But it’s great to see all the support here, being U.S. Concrete’s home race. You’re greeted right through the tunnel with Redi-Mix trucks, and they’ve even used the trucks to spell out a 98 in the infield. We’re looking forward to putting on a good hometown show for them this weekend.”

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