By David Morgan, Associate Editor
INDIANAPOLIS – Is this finally Graham Rahal’s weekend?
The driver of the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda has certainly made positive strides in that direction to start off the Gallagher Grand Prix weekend on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course as he finished the first practice session of the day at the top of the board.
Rahal’s lap of one minute, 9.842 seconds was enough to allow him to take the fast time during the 90-minute session, just ahead of Arrow McLaren driver Felix Rosenqvist.
“It’s good,” Rahal said. “I think those reds threw everybody for a loop compared to the May race. It’s a different compound, back to the 2021, and it’s way more understeer than what we were probably expecting, so I think there’s more time in it for us.
“The Code 3 Associates car was solid this morning. I mean this whole session we were probably the only guys who were improving on the blacks on lap 15. I like it. We’ll see how qualifying goes, but I feel confident particularly in the race car. In that 15 or 20 laps on blacks, we really didn’t see much degradation, which I’m pleased with.
“It’s cooler this morning, but we’ll see. I feel strong.”
Fellow RLL teammate Christian Lundgaard, who won the pole on this track back in May, along with a podium finish in this race one year ago, finished the session in third, with defending race winner Alexander Rossi timing in fourth fastest.
Current NTT IndyCar Series points leader Alex Palou led the session for much of the morning, until being surpassed by the RLL and Arrow McLaren entries and dropping to fifth by the time the session ended.
The remainder of the top-10 fastest cars were Scott McLaughlin, six-time series champion Scott Dixon, Pato O’Ward, Marcus Ericsson, and Devlin DeFrancesco.
Only one stoppage occurred during the session when O’Ward went for a spin. It was no harm, no foul, as he was able to continue on after getting out of the wet infield grass.
Next up for the IndyCar Series is qualifying at 12:30 pm ET, followed by final practice at 4:00 pm ET. Both are to be televised on Peacock.
The 85-lap Gallagher Grand Prix will kick off at 2:30 pm ET Saturday on USA Network.