By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
MONTEREY, California – Felix Rosenqvist will head into the final qualifying session Saturday afternoon with tremendous optimism after setting the fastest time of final practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year points leader set a time of 1:10.4065, beating the Team Penske trio of Josef Newgarden, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud as the last 45-minute session was chaotic.
Although no stoppages occurred, several drivers struggled finding the perfect lap at the 2.238-mile circuit with title contender Alexander Rossi, James Hinchcliffe and Takuma Sato all going off into the gravel.
All four title contenders ended up in the top-10 practice standings with Newgarden being 0.1823 seconds off Rosenqvist’s fastest time. Pagenaud continued his consistency from Friday and ended up fourth fastest. Defending series champion Scott Dixon was eighth while Rossi, who struggled in both Friday’s main practices, wound up 10th.
Graham Rahal and Sebastien Bourdais ran the most laps at 21 and ended up ninth and 14th respectively. Bourdais, who’s one of four drivers that’s previously driven at Laguna Seca during the CART/Champ Car days, is dealing with back issues but expected to be fine come Sunday’s finale.
The 17th and final qualifying session of the season will go down at 4:35 pm EST as the bid for the NTT P1 Pole Award will be critical as tire degradation continues to be a chore for the 24 competitors. Coverage of the session will air live on NBCSN, beginning at 4:30 pm EST.