Scott McLaughlin paces Laguna Seca opening practice, Speeds

MONTEREY, Calif. (Friday, June 21, 2024) – Scott McLaughlin led the opening practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on Friday, as NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers worked to come to grips with the evolution of the asphalt since the legendary WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca was repaved last season.

McLaughlin was quickest at 1 minute, 7.6325 seconds in the No. 3 Good Ranchers Team Penske Chevrolet on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile circuit that includes the famous “Corkscrew” turn complex.

Numerous drivers spun or ventured off track while working to adjust to the lower levels of grip on the track this year compared to 2023, when the fresh asphalt offered more traction.

“Pretty good day in the Good Ranchers Chevy,” McLaughlin said. “The car was pretty hooked up from the get-go, and it really got on reds (Firestone alternate tires) when we turned it on. The track’s getting faster and faster, and I think it’s sort of coming to our car a little bit. More to come tomorrow.”

Colton Herta, a winner in 2019 and 2021 at this track, was second at 1:07.7316 in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda fielded by Andretti Global with Curb-Agajanian. Reigning and two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Alex Palou, who won here in 2022, was third at 1:07.7371 in the No. 10 DHL Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Two-time series champion Josef Newgarden was fourth at 1:07.8805 in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.

“It’s quicker than it feels,” Newgarden said of the track. “It does feel like a lot less grip, but the lap time is not that bad compared to last year. So, it’s still really fast, but you’re tiptoeing more. Last year, the thing just felt like it was stuck on the track.”

Pietro Fittipaldi, grandson of two-time Indy 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi, produced one of his best outings of the season in the 75-minute session. He ended up fifth at 1:08.0025 in the No. 30 Eurofarma Honda of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

Two drivers made highly anticipated debuts today in sunny, cool Northern California. David Malukas, making his season debut with Meyer Shank Racing after suffering a wrist injury during a mountain biking accident in February, ended up 25th at 1:09.0206 in the No. 66 AutoNation/Arctic Wolf Honda. Nolan Siegel, who signed a multiyear deal this week with Arrow McLaren, ended up 27th at 1:10.0019 in the team’s No. 6 Chevrolet.

Up next is practice at 1 p.m. ET Saturday, followed by NTT P1 Award qualifying at 5:15 p.m. ET Saturday. Both sessions will be live on Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Live coverage of the 95-lap race starts at 6 p.m. ET Sunday on the USA Network, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Laguna Seca Opening Practice

June 21, 2024

John Bman
John Bman
Founder and Owner of Tireball Sports.

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