Josef Newgarden set the pace on a fast final day of open testing for the NTT IndyCar Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Moments after the final hour began, the 31-year-old Tennessee native shot to the top of the leaderboard with a best lap at 229.519 mph in the No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet.
“Yeah, it was very productive actually,” said Newgarden, a two-time IndyCar champion. “Once we got into the swing of it, we were really making a lot of progress on our race car specifically, which I was happy about. I really wanted to get into some race work this afternoon. We spent a lot of the time doing that, probably the majority of it.
“Positive test for us. We try to divide and conquer on Team Penske, get through as much as we could with all three cars.
“Happy about it. The weather conditions turned pretty beautiful there at the end. It was just about perfect. So pleased. Happy to be here with Team Penske as always. I like the new Shell car this year with the extra gold, I think it looks pretty racy. I think Team Chevy has done their homework, too.
“We’ve been feeling positive to start this year. Big thing for us is to carry that into the month of May.”
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato, piloting the No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing Honda, was the only other driver to break into the 229 mph range, ending the day second by a narrow 0.0157s behind Newgarden.
Chip Ganassi Racing occupied the third and fourth spots, with Tony Kanaan ahead of six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon. Scott McLaughlin slotted fifth in the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet.
Marco Andretti pulled together a late lap at 228.185 mph in the No. 98 Andretti Herta Autosport Honda to end up sixth, fastest among his teammates. Reigning champion Alex Palou was seventh, followed by CGR teammate Jimmie Johnson in eighth. Arrow McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist came away ninth and the fifth and final CGR entry of Marcus Ericsson, who logged a session-best 148 laps, rounded out the top 10.
.@RGrosjean huggin' that wall a little too close.#INDYCAR // #Indy500 pic.twitter.com/BZWzrskxDb
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) April 21, 2022
The opening hours of the test was delayed by weather, but once the running began it was straightforward with the only cautions falling for the standard track inspections. The trouble spot on the warm-up lane at pit exit that caught multiple drivers out on opening day was a non issue. IMS President Doug Boles confirmed it was a late night of work by various personnel to work over that area of the track after a trio of incidents on Wednesday, which included a crash involving reigning and four-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves. (Note: Castroneves and the No. 06 Meyer Shank Racing squad opted out of running Thursday as a result of the crash.)
“We definitely missed Helio today, for sure,” said Simon Pagenaud, Castroneves’ MSR teammate who ended the day 11th overall on the day. “He’s the king around this racetrack. Always good to have him around. We love to learn from each other on data, running in traffic together. It would have been great.
“Very unfortunate what happened to him yesterday. Kind of a bystander of whatever was going on — is still going on in the warmup lane. It’s a real shame. It is a real shame when we’re bringing the Speedway cars.
“But the guys are already back in the shop. They already built the whole car. Quite impressive to see the effort that goes into it, how responsive these guys are, so congratulations to them.”
The fastest group on the no-tow list was led by Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, who hit a 221.314 mph flying lap. McLaughlin was second, followed by Conor Daly, to give ECR two spots in the top three.
A.J. Foyt Racing was also represented well on the no-tow list, with JR Hildebrand and Dalton Kellett fourth and fifth. Newgarden was sixth, with Colton Herta putting the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda seventh.
There was a total of 3,267 laps logged on Thursday among the 31 cars.