Photo: Bret Kelley/INDYCAR

Rahal, Castroneves Pace IndyCar Detroit Practice

By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer

In Friday practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit doubleheader weekend, Graham Rahal and Helio Castroneves were all alone at the top of the time sheet as both drivers were fastest in each of the two practice sessions.

Not only that, but they were second fastest in the session where they weren’t fastest.

In opening practice, Rahal went around the 2.35 mile Belle Isle street circuit with a time of 1 min 15.3328 seconds while Castroneves was just .15 seconds behind. Castroneves’s teammate Josef Newgarden was third followed by Alexander Rossi and another Penske teammate Will Power in fifth.

For the second practice session, Castroneves pulled out a 1 min 15.1511 second lap while Rahal was a full two tenths of a second slower in second place. Rossi was third fastest over another Penske driver Simon Pagenaud in fourth and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’s Mikhail Aleshin in fifth.

Rossi only turned three laps in the second session before an incident ended his practice session early as he backed his car into the Turn 8 barrier.

The newest driver to the IndyCar grid managed 21st and 22nd in his first two practice sessions. Esteban Gutierrez is filling in this weekend for the recovering Sebastien Bourdais. Teammate Ed Jones was 22nd in the first session and 20th in the second, which is remarkably not where one would expect the Plainfield, Illinois squad to be this year.

Between the first and second session, the biggest improvement was from Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Oriol Servia who managed to go from a 1 minute 17.9734 second lap in the first session to a 1 minute 16.1488 second lap in the second session, moving him from 20th in session one to 11th in session two. Many other drivers improved a handful of positions as well as Ed Carpenter Racing’s J.R. Hildebrand went from 14th to 7th, Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato went from 12th to 6th and Pagenaud and Aleshin were 11th and 13th in session one before posting their session two bests.

Saturday qualifying will begin at 10:05 while Saturday’s race will start at 3:50 P.M. local time.

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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.