Simon Pagenaud leads opening session as Penske teammate Will Power wrecks

By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter & NASCAR Contributor

Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud led a rather uneventful first session for this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The Frenchman set fastest lap of the session (1:01.7246s) with 10 minutes remaining in the session.

“It’s the first practic eof the year, so it’s nice to start of nicely,” said Pagenaud. “There’s still a lot of work do.”

Pagenaud’s lap was just .0624s quicker than the Honda of A.J. Foyt Racing’s Jack Hawsworth. Pagenaud’s teammate and three time St. Pete winner Helio Castroneves was the only other Chevrolet in the top five while Takuma Sato made it two Foyt cars in the top five followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Defending series champion Scott Dixon logged the sixth quickest time and was followed by Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Tony Kanaan.

The biggest incident of the session was Will Power crashing in turn 9. Power was adjusting the brake bias knob on his steering wheel and smashed into the barrier. Power was unhurt in the incident. The crew will repair the car before the next session begins at 3:40 PM EST.

Alexander Rossi’s first session in an IndyCar ended uneventful with the Californian logging the 18th fastest time. Fellow rookies Spencer Pigot and Conor Daly were close behind in 19th and 20th while Max Chilton was the slowest car in the session, a distant -1.65 seconds behind Pagenaud’s quickest time.

Many teams only elected to take a handful of laps in order to save tires for tomorrow’s session as well as the race.

Image: Josh Chin/Tribute Racing

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Josh Farmer joined the media center in 2012 after first discovering his love of IndyCar racing in 2004 at Auto Club Speedway. He has been an accredited member of the IndyCar media center since 2014 and also contributes to IndyCar.com along with The Motorsports Tribune.

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