It took plenty of patience to get the first NTT IndyCar Series practice under way at Texas Motor Speedway, and once the two-hour delay for a wet track and low, thick clouds that prevented the emergency helicopter from landing, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan led the way after 75 minutes of running in the No. 48 Honda.
The 2013 Indy 500 winner set a best of 220.173mph and had Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward close behind in the No. 5 Chevy (219.934mph). Two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato was third with the No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda (219.868mph), CGR’s Scott Dixon was fourth with the No. 9 Honda (219.723mph), Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud in the No. 22 Chevy (219.708mph) was fifth, and CGR’s Marcus Ericsson completed the top six (219.698mph) in the No. 8 Honda.
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Dalton Kellett was the first to head out and turn a lap above 200mph and 16 additional drivers joined in to run a few laps at modest speeds—137mph or lower—before pitting and waiting for more time to come off the clock as the familiar practice of conserving tires for the race kept on-track action to a minimum for the first 15 minutes.
Kanaan put up the first fast lap with a 216.760. RLL’s Graham Rahal was next to claim P1 with a 218.668, and he was quickly eclipsed by Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe with a 218.707mph. Kanaan returned for his second run and moved the bar to 220.032mph just before 25 minutes had been completed. A few moments later, the CGR driver would nudge the number up to 220.173mph, which stood for the remainder of the session as IndyCar informed its teams that qualifying had been cancelled.
Lacking a reason to focus on finding ultimate single-lap speed for qualifying, the field turned its attention to working on race setups as drivers chased and followed each other in the 208-218mph range in race trim.
The @PPG machine driven by @smclaughlin93 is trying to exchange paint with @TXMotorSpeedway.
Watch #INDYCAR practice LIVE on @peacockTV.#Genesys300 // #XPEL375 pic.twitter.com/IFvzz7h73b
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) May 1, 2021
Per IndyCar, CGR’s Alex Palou–P11 in the session at 218.105mph–will start on pole for tonight’s race due to holding P1 in the championship standings.
Fastest Driver: Tony Kanaan, 220.173mph
Slowest Driver: Pietro Fittipaldi, 213.401mph
Most Laps Turned: 93, Dalton Kellett
Conor Daly, making his seasonal debut for Carlin Racing on the ovals in Max Chilton’s No. 59 Chevy, was P12 in the session, beating out teammates-turned-rivals Rinus VeeKay (P19) and Ed Carpenter in the No. 20 Chevy he drove last weekend at St. Petersburg (P20).
Andretti Autosport was the only big team to leave the session without a lot of answers as Hinchcliffe (P9), Alexander Rossi (P13), Ryan Hunter-Reay (P14), and St. Pete winner Colton Herta (P17) were wide of expectations.
The same was true for Dale Coyne Racing’s duo at a track where the team is usually on the pace as Ed Jones (P21) and Fittipaldi (P24) were left searching for answers.
At the bottom of the happiness chart, A.J. Foyt Racing, the home state legends, ended the lone session prior to the race with Sebastien Bourdais and Kellett in P22 and P23, respectively. The Foyt drivers, like all the other teams and drivers who lacked pace, will have to hope their teams come up with big ideas and bigger fixes to try in the race.
For many heading into the Genesys 300–whether it’s held tonight or is pushed to Sunday if rain returns—the first lap of the race will reveal if the chassis setup gambles were on target, or missed yet again.
Up Next: Race 1, 7:00 p.m. ET, on NBCSN