Newgarden stays sharp in morning practice at St. Pete

Josef Newgarden continued to be the driver to beat Saturday morning on the streets of St. Petersburg, leading a 45-minute practice session for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Newgarden was tops at 1 minute, .0622 of a second in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street circuit. That was even quicker than his lap of 1:00.8029 that led practice Friday, and it’s also within reach of the track record of 1:00.0476 set by Jordan King in 2018.

“I think we made it better,” Newgarden said. “Hopefully we can get a little further up front in qualifying. We (qualified) eighth here last year. You can make something happen from there, but starting up front is always a bit better around this place. That’s what we’re going to aim for now.”

Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award is up next, scheduled to start at 1:45 p.m., with live coverage on Peacock Premium and same-day coverage at 10 p.m. on NBCSN.

Alexander Rossi was second today in practice at 1:00.1749 in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda, with Jack Harvey third at 1:00.2192 in the No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda.

Colton Herta ended up fourth at 1:00.2216 in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda. Marcus Ericsson was fifth at 1:00.2219 in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Two-time defending race winner Newgarden, Herta and Rossi continued to flex their muscle this morning, as all three were in the top five in practice Friday. The trend of tight margins among most of the 24-car field intensified this morning, as just .8286 of a second separated the top 20 cars. That gap was .9364 of a second yesterday.

Live coverage of the 100-lap race starts at noon Sunday on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

2021 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – Second Practice Results

1Josef Newgarden201:00.062219107.88823–.—-–.—-
2Alexander Rossi2701:00.174919107.686230.11270.1127
3Jack Harvey6001:00.219217107.607210.15700.0443
4Colton Herta2601:00.221620107.603260.15940.0024
5Marcus Ericsson801:00.221923107.602270.15970.0003
6Simon Pagenaud2201:00.273523107.51280.21130.0516
7Scott McLaughlin301:00.300324107.462280.23810.0268
8Scott Dixon901:00.326225107.416290.26400.0259
9Romain Grosjean5101:00.419824107.25240.35760.0936
10Pato O’Ward501:00.479721107.143250.41750.0599
11Alex Palou1001:00.507623107.094290.44540.0279
12Felix Rosenqvist701:00.629111106.879210.56690.1215
13Will Power1201:00.648919106.844240.58670.0198
14Conor Daly2001:00.699820106.755250.63760.0509
15James Hinchcliffe2901:00.701919106.751210.63970.0021
16Sebastien Bourdais1401:00.707425106.742270.64520.0055
17Rinus VeeKay2101:00.709824106.737270.64760.0024
18Ryan Hunter-Reay2801:00.716019106.726250.65380.0062
19Graham Rahal1501:00.730426106.701280.66820.0144
20Takuma Sato3001:00.890824106.42300.82860.1604
21Dalton Kellett401:01.276615105.75191.21440.3858
22Ed Jones1801:01.67167105.073241.60940.3950
23Max Chilton5901:01.715721104.998231.65350.0441
24Jimmie Johnson4801:02.359823103.913262.29760.6441

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