SALINAS, Calif — Alex Palou topped the speed charts in Saturday morning’s NTT INDYCAR Series practice session from Laguna Seca. Under gray California skies, the defending series champion circled the 2.238-mile road course with a time of 1:11.3847-seconds in his No. 10 Dallara-Honda.
It was a vastly better session for the Chip Ganassi Racing camp with Palou only being 14th on Friday. Scott Dixon chimed in 6th (1:11.9192-seconds) in his No. 9 Dallara-Honda after being 17th quick a day ago.
Part of that reason is likely due to everyone using the Firestone primary tires in this 45-minute long session. The CGR camp has been good when using these compounds. It’s the reds that sometimes affect their balance which has sparked Dixon and Marcus Ericsson to have bad starting spots.
Friday’s session was a reds practice. Saturday’s blacks. How will qualifying look in a couple of hours?
Ericsson does have some work to do with being only 20th (1:12.7757-seconds) in Practice 2. He was 10th on Friday. He was joined near the back by Scott McLaughlin (1:12.6457-seconds) who was 18th. These 2 are swinging for the fences this weekend with their only legitimate shot at a title being to win the race. Maybe they were experimenting on Saturday morning.
The Team Penske tandem of Will Power (1:11.7183-seconds) and Josef Newgarden (1:11.7973-seconds) were 3rd and 4th respectively which has to be somewhat of a gut shot to Dixon. Both put down those laps in the final seconds and were 2-tenths clear of Dixon and nearly a second better than McLaughlin and Ericsson.
With Penske not electing to test here and Ganassi doing so, this is the 2nd straight day that the Penske tandem were better than Dixon and Ericsson. Newgarden was quickest on Friday and Power in 7th.
Alexander Rossi (1:11.3847-seconds) was a quiet 2nd in his No. 27 Dallara-Honda. He was 4th on Friday. His teammate and two-time defending race winner and pole winner in Colton Herta (1:11.8497-seconds) rounded out the top 5 in his No. 26 Dallara-Honda. Herta was 2nd quickest on Friday himself.
There were two stoppages in this practice. The first came at 10:26 a.m. locally when Graham Rahal looped it around in the Corkscrew (Turn 8). The second came 14 minutes later when Pato O’Ward spun off course in Turn 10 at 10:40 a.m. locally and made light contact with the tire barrier.