Christian Lundgaard figures to be in contention for another NTT P1 Award later today after posting the fastest time of the pre-qualifying practice at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Lundgaard, who won the Honda Indy Toronto in July from the pole, turned a lap of 1 minute, 7.6154 seconds in the morning session.
Knockout qualifying for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey begins at 5 p.m. ET, with coverage on Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network. Team Penske’s Will Power won last year’s pole at 1:11.6127, but that mark will fall due to the track’s repaving. The track record belongs to Helio Castroneves at 1:07.722, set in 2000.
Qualifying at this track has historically been critical to success in the race. Eight of the past 10 race winners – and 20 of the past 25 -- have started on the front row. Two other race winners started third. So, that’s 22 of 25 from the first three starting positions.
One of the exceptions to Laguna Seca’s past is Alex Palou, who has clinched this year’s season championship. He won last year’s race by 30-plus seconds after starting 11th. He led 67 laps.
Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay and Ryan Hunter-Reay, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden (twice), Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal and Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian’s Colton Herta went off track without much significance. But Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward lost control and went into the tire barrier in Turn 4, which ended his session, and Power got beached at the top of the Corkscrew after spinning.
Santino Ferrucci had to pull the No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing/Sexton Properties Chevrolet off the track with smoke coming out of the left rear.
VeeKay finished with the session’s second-fastest lap of the session at 1:07.6546 with Palou third at 1:07.7993.
Sunday’s action features the final practice of the season at noon ET (Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network) with the 95-lap Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey beginning at 2:30 p.m. on NBC, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.