Photo: Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment

McLaughlin Fastest In Morning Practice at Texas

By Phillip Schmitz, Staff Writer

FORT WORTH, Tex. — Team Penske’s Scott McLaughln went fastest in opening practice for the PPG 375 at Texas Motor Speedway with a 223.747 mph average lap. The New Zealand native was followed by the Arrow McLaren duo of Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi on the speed charts.

“A little bit bamboozled at the start of the run,” McLaughlin said of practice. “She was slipperier than a pocket full of pudding, you know, on the outside of Turn 1 there. We got through all that kerfuffle and the XPEL Chevy feels really good and I think we’re in a pretty good spot.”

Colton Herta came in fourth as the fastest Honda powered engine for Andretti Autosport, followed by his teammate Devlin DeFrancesco. Defending race winner Josef Newgarden slotted in ninth fastest for Team Penske, while championship leader Marcus Ericsson for Chip Ganassi Racing was 19th fastest.

Other notables in practice were Takuma Sato, who is racing just the oval portion of the season for Chip Ganassi Racing, clocking in eighth fastest.

While the Rahal Letterman Lanigan trio of drivers Graham Rahal, Jack Harvey, and Christian Lundgaard surprisingly were at the bottom of the timing sheets. AJ Foyt Racing’s Benjamin Pedersen went 18th quickest to be the fastest rookie in practice.

The 50 minute practice session gave INDYCAR teams the opportunity to try the new downforce elements that were added for this weekend. It’s the only session INDYCAR has before qualifying at noon ET. The order being set by the championship standings going into the weekend.

Given the ever-changing weather in Texas, Mclaughlin noted that he wasn’t too worried about his qualifying draw that has him rolling out in the later part of the session.

“Look, it’s the same for everyone and it’s just a car. We’ll just get out there and hold it flat and hopefully we don’t have too much understeer.”

Following time trials, teams will have one final combined practice session to get their cars dialed in for the race and rubber in the high line of the track from 1:45 pm to 3:30 pm ET. The PPG 375 is scheduled for Noon ET Sunday and will be televised on NBC.

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