It’s a beautiful day in central Wisconsin, and the cars looked quick on the 14-turn, 4.014-mile Road America circuit, or as what Max Chilton called in a PLP interview earlier “a proper road course”.

Qualifying starts later this afternoon, and here are a couple of storylines to keep an eye on as we move through the weekend.

Newgarden still rolling. Points leader Josef Newgarden, who has won two of the last three races and earned his first “superspeedway” win at Texas two weeks ago, picked up right where he left off by posting the fastest lap of the three combined sessions. His lap of 1 minute, 42.8825 seconds is the only sub-1:43 lap and is about a quarter-second faster than Alexander Rossi’s 1:43.1206 and Colton Herta’s lap of 1:43.1697. (Note: Rossi’s lap was in Practice 2). He’s won 10 of his last 43 starts dating back to 2017.

Rookies. Four rookies found their way into the Top 10 in practice, with Herta leading the way in P3. Felix Rosenqvist and Santino Ferrucci are seventh and eighth, respectively, and Patricio O’Ward is P10. O’Ward’s effort is impressive considering the pressure he’s feeling with the uncertainty of his funding issues, as the Indy Star’s Jim Ayello reported on Monday.  Look for at least one of the rookies to make the Firestone Fast Six today.

Dixon needs to find speed. After crashing out of two of the last three races, 2018 NTT IndyCar champion Scott Dixon still stands fourth in the season standings, but is 91 points behind Newgarden as the Top 3 (Newgarden, Rossi, Simon Pagenaud) are beginning to distance themselves from the rest of the pack. Dixon, a five-time series champion, is in a precipitous spot as he’s a couple of sub-par results away from his championship hopes becoming very dire. He is 12th-fastest this weekend so far.

Pit Lane Parley

Have you listened to this week’s show? School’s out for the summer, and Host Mike, Jess and Matt pass out grades for the first half of the season. You can listen to it here on iTunes. 

 

Photo credit: John Cote/IndyCar Media