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Power paces INDYCAR GP opening practice

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INDIANAPOLIS – Will Power led the opening 45-minute practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ INDYCAR Grand Prix, in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, as he looks for his first victory of the season.

Power put down a best time of 1:09.3172 to lead the 22-car field, around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course.

Scott Dixon was the top Honda in second in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, at 1:09.4096.

Barber winner Josef Newgarden, Phoenix winner and defending series and race champion Simon Pagenaud and past Indy Lights and Pro Mazda champion Spencer Pigot completed the top five.

Juan Pablo Montoya was seventh in his first official IndyCar race weekend session of 2017, driving the No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Chevrolet as Team Penske’s fifth car.

The top 20 were covered by 0.9049 of a second with only Marco Andretti and Conor Daly outside that margin.

One red flag briefly interrupted the session for debris on track and a couple drivers had lock-ups or off-course excursions, but there were no major incidents. It was a cool session with ambient temperature of 56 degrees and 63 on track, per Firestone.

Second practice runs from 12:25 to 1:10 p.m. before qualifying this afternoon from 4:20 to 5:35 p.m., on a rare day with three official IndyCar sessions.

F1 2017 driver review: Romain Grosjean

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Romain Grosjean

Team: Haas
Car No.: 8
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P6 (Austria)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 28
Championship Position: 13th

After leading Haas’ charge through its debut Formula 1 season in 2016, Romain Grosjean once again stepped up as team leader for the American team through its sophomore campaign despite scoring one point fewer.

Haas did not expect any major step in performance heading into 2017, having dealt with building all-new cars for two different sets of regulations, but the team was able to match its season one points total by the halfway mark this time around.

The big boost was the addition of a second points scoring driver – Kevin Magnussen – to partner Grosjean. Grosjean looked increasingly comfortable at Haas even if the car often presented problems, particularly under braking.

Radio rants were frequent, with Grosjean unable to drive around the issues as Magnussen did. But he was nevertheless able to finish the year as Haas’ top scorer, with his highlight moment being a perfect run to sixth in Austria.

Greater consistency was evident from both Grosjean and Haas through 2017, yet there were still swings in form that need to be ironed out in the future. The team was unable to capitalize on Renault and Toro Rosso’s late season difficulties that could have seen it jump to sixth in the constructors’ championship.

Grosjean once again proved himself to be a very competent and talented racer through 2017, but needs a little more panache – perhaps down to the car more than anything – if he is to put himself in the frame for a top-line drive in the future.

Haas continues to offer a good platform, though, and its third season should be its best yet thanks to the stability in the regulations. It will be a real chance for Grosjean to show what he can do.

Season High: A perfect run to sixth in Austria, leading the midfield cars.

Season Low: Crashing early with Ocon in Brazil, hurting Haas’ constructors’ hopes.