Will Power is number one – literally. The driver of the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet was the fastest around Sonoma Raceway in Friday’s first practice session for the Verizon IndyCar Series finale this weekend.
Power, the defending IndyCar champion who also holds the single-lap track record at Sonoma, posted a practice time of 1 minute, 17.4858 seconds on Friday. That’s within striking distance of the aforementioned benchmark, which is 1 minute, 17.2393 seconds set during last year’s qualifying.
“It was a good session, but tomorrow, obviously, really counts,” said Power, who sits fourth in the current IndyCar standings, 61 points off the pace with 104 markers available this weekend. “We’re in a good window. Just go home, study and have a look and see if we can make good changes, see if we can go a little faster.”
The top five fastest cars in the session belonged to Power, Graham Rahal, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon and Marco Andretti. Helio Castroneves was seventh, current championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya ninth, and Josef Newgarden thirteenth.
Mikhail Aleshin, making his IndyCar return for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports following a vicious crash in practice before last year’s season finale, came in seventeenth.
“It was a long journey to make it up here again; it was a long time for me to recover from the crash. I feel very good, better than last year,” Aleshin was quoted as commenting afterward. “Obviously, it’s difficult to come back at the end of the season and the track is difficult. The car is new and the race is long, but I will give 100 percent. I’m happy to be back with the team.”
Oriol Servia, in his first time behind the wheel in place of the late Justin Wilson, was last.
“It was a little bit what I expected after such a long time not being on a road course,” Servia, who hasn’t raced at Sonoma in two years, said afterward through a league statement. “These cars now have so much downforce, and this track is where you really feel it. It’s just getting used to the car…We obviously want to be a lot faster than that, but I just really couldn’t put it together on new tires.”
The drivers will participate in one final practice session this morning before qualifying takes place this afternoon; both practice and qualifying will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN). You can find the full race schedule and preview for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma here.
For more on the Verizon IndyCar Series, visit the league’s website.