Sunday, March 26, 2023

Alexander Rossi Tops Opening Practice in Toronto

Alexander Rossi at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Alexander Rossi was quickest in opening practice on the Streets of Toronto. Image courtesy of Joe Skibinski / Penske Entertainment

Alexander Rossi led the way in an opening practice for the Honda Indy Toronto that featured several red flags.

The 30-year-old Californian managed the tight and twisty 11-turn, 1.786-mile street circuit at Exhibition Place to throttle down a lap at 1m00.6090 (106.083 mph). The lap came with a set of Firestone alternate (red sidewall) tires bolted onto the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda.

The No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Honda of Simon Pagenaud, the last driver to win the event when the NTT IndyCar Series last visited in 2019, ended up second by a narrow 0.0901s.

Graham Rahal put forth perhaps his best practice session of the season, leading the majority of the session on the primary (black sidewall) tires before the run of alternates slid him down the running order. However, he ended up third in the session after getting a fresh set of alternates for the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda.

Championship leader Marcus Ericsson, piloting the No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, finished fourth. Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, a two-time winner at Toronto, was fifth.

Felix Rosenqvist, Colton Herta, Scott Dixon, Will Power and Alex Palou rounded out the rest of the top 10.

The first red flag came roughly midway through the 1h15m session for a track inspection. With 30 minutes remaining, the second red flag waved after rookie Callum Ilott pounded the outside wall of Turn 2, breaking the front wing and causing potential suspension to the No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet.

Jimmie Johnson, who ran a session-best 37 laps, brought out the third stoppage after spinning and stalling on track in Turn 8 with less than 20 minutes to go. The fourth and final red flag came out after Helio Castroneves stuffed his No. 06 Meyer Shank Racing Honda into the tire barrier with less than four minutes left. The session restarted with two minutes to go, allowing each participant an opportunity for a hot lap but the running order remained relatively unchanged.

Up Next: The second practice session will begin on Saturday at 10 a.m. ET, with live coverage on Peacock and the IndyCar Radio Network.

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