Photo: Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR

Marco Andretti Paces First Practice of 2017 IndyCar Season in St. Pete

By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — In the first official practice session for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Honda is at the top of the charts in preparation for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Marco Andretti’s No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda timed in at 1 minute 3.7559 seconds (101.638 mph), leading a quartet of Honda cars as Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon were second and third, while James Hinchcliffe brought his No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda to fourth.

The first Chevrolet was Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud in the No. 1 PPG Automotive Finishes machine in fifth place. Behind him was Graham Rahal’s No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda, Helio Castroneves’s No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet, Charlie Kimball’s No. 83 Tresiba Honda, Ryan Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 DHL Honda and Max Chilton’s No. 8 Gallagher Honda rounding out the top ten.

The session had a brief delay as Team Penske’s Will Power lightly hit the wall coming out of Turn 10 in his No. 12 Verizon Wireless Chevrolet. However, Power was able to drive his car back to the pits and after a new rear wing was fitted, Power turned the 11th fastest lap.

The only other incident of note was Team Penske newcomer Josef Newgarden overshooting Turn 10 and going into the escape road. New for 2017, a visor cam then came on during the live broadcast giving fans a new perspective of what the drivers see.  Newgarden finished the session 15th in his No. 2 Verizon Wireless Chevrolet.

2016 Indy Lights champion Ed Jones was 18th in his first session for Dale Coyne Racing in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda while 2015 Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot drove his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet to 14th for Ed Carpenter Racing.

Full results here: INDYCAR Practice 1 2017 St. Pete

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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.

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