Photo: Justin R. Noe/ASP Inc.

INDYCAR Friday Musings: Road America

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin — Friday has come and gone for the Kohler Grand Prix and the Verizon IndyCar Series and its support ladder had many interesting tidbits coming out of Road America.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden topped both practice sessions with an overall Friday best lap of 1 minute, 42.6279 seconds for an average speed of 140.804 mph.

However, behind Newgarden in each session were a large amount of Hondas ready to pounce on the defending series champion.

Honda had four of the top five positions and six of the top nine in the morning practice session while in the afternoon they had seven of the top 10 positions and 11 of the top 15. Honda might also have an edge on fuel mileage but that remains to be seen.

Alfonso Celis Jr. had the only major off track excursion in IndyCar practice as the No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet had contact with the Turn 13 tire barrier.

Robert Wickens was second in the afternoon practice session after turning the fourth fastest lap in the morning session. The Canadian hasn’t raced at Road America since 2007 but hasn’t let that slow him down.

The largest improvement from morning to afternoon was Graham Rahal. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver was 19th in the morning session but was sixth in the afternoon.

In Indy Lights, Victor Franzoni scored the pole for their first race of the weekend on Saturday. It was a heroic performance for Franzoni who lost a mentor earlier this week with Jeff Green’s passing.

Pro Mazda had their first race of the weekend and it was a BN Racing cakewalk up front. David Malukas avenged his spin from second place in last year’s second USF2000 race at Road America with a flag-to-flag victory over temporary teammate Toby Sowery.

Sowery ran last year in USF2000 at Barber Motorsports Park for Team Benik and earned a fifth place result so to score a runner-up finish in his Pro Mazda debut was a special achievement.

Behind the BN duo, Harrison Scott finished third ahead of points leader Parker Thompson. Thompson overtook Rinus VeeKay on the last lap in the obvious place for the Alberta native: Canada Corner.

USF2000 had a few twists and turns off track as some drivers switched rides around with different teams but qualifying for both races ended the same way. Rasmus Lindh won pole position for both races with Kyle Kirkwood starting second in Saturday’s race.

Sunday’s race will have a Pabst Racing Services 1-2-3 with Kaylen Frederick and Lucas Kohl rounding out the top three with Kirkwood fourth.

Saturday’s track activity begins with Indy Lights race two qualifying at 8:00 a.m. CDT. IndyCar practice follows at 11:00 a.m. CDT.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.