One fact became apparent during the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Open Test on Thursday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca: The track record has a very short lifespan.
Two-time series champion Will Power led the five-hour test with a top lap of 1 minute, 7.2762 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. He was the quickest of nine drivers who unofficially dipped under the INDYCAR SERIES track record of 1:07.722 set by Helio Castroneves in 2000, as all 27 drivers in the test relished the grippy, fresh asphalt after the 11-turn, 2.238-mile circuit was repaved after last year’s race.
SEE: Test Results
Power won the NTT P1 Award for this race last year on the old, rough asphalt with a lap of 1:11.6127. He thinks that standard and Castroneves’ record will be obliterated in qualifying Saturday due to the new surface.
“Very nice, very smooth,” Power said. “A lot of grip. Yeah, it's incredibly fast. Yeah, it will be a mid-six (1:06.5) in quali by the time it's all said and done. Rubber down, mid-six.”
Practice opens at 5:30 p.m. ET Friday (Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network), with live coverage of the race starting at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC, Telemundo Deportes on Universo, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network. NTT P1 Award qualifying is set for 5 p.m. ET Saturday (Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network).
Christian Lundgaard was second in a strong day for resurgent Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, posting a best lap of 1:07.3089 in the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda. Team Penske also flexed its muscle during the test, as Scott McLaughlin was third at 1:07.5117 in the No. 3 XPEL Team Penske Chevrolet.
Rookie Juri Vips, who made his series debut last weekend at Portland, impressed by ending up fourth at 1:07.6366 in the No. 30 Mi-Jack Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top five at 1:07.6463 in the No. 8 Huski Ice Spritz Honda of Chip Ganassi Racing.
Alex Palou, who clinched his second NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship last weekend at Portland, ended up 12th at 1:07.8434 in the No. 10 The American Legion Honda fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing. Defending race champion Palou was unhurt after making contact with the tire barrier in Turn 4 with about 50 minutes remaining while fourth on the time sheets. He didn't return to the track.