IndyCar: Power on top in Houston first practice

1 Comment

The old sparring partners, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud, were 1-2 in first practice for the  Verizon IndyCar Series Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Race 1 (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).

Power set down a best time of 1:00.4427 late in the first 45-minute practice session, in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet to lead the time sheets at the 1.6-mile M.D Anderson Cancer Center Speedway at NRG Park.

Pagenaud, back in the orange Oculus-backed No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda after running the white Lucas Oil colors last race at Texas, was second at 1:00.6956.

“The bump in Turn 1 has been smoothened, so it’s definitely a better standard for us,” Pagenaud told IndyCar Radio at the end of the session. “It’s a lot of fun to drive… you have to be very committed in the braking zones. It’s actually very enjoyable so far.”

Sebastien Bourdais, Takuma Sato, and Tony Kanaan completed the top five. Each of the top nine runners got into the 1:00 bracket; the top 16 were within 0.9972 of a second down to Carlos Munoz.

This first practice had one brief red flag interruption as part of the sealant surface in-between Turns 9 and 10 at the 20-minute mark, but this was repaired and the session resumed.  There were a few incidents, including a spin by rookie Mikhail Aleshin at Turn 4, but nothing major or that forced damage.

Second practice occurs from 2 to 2:45 local time, with a 10-minute standing start practice to follow.

Here’s your first practice times.


Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023


Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, will drive for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season.

Chadwick will make her debut in an American racing series in March, driving the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport with sponsorship from DHL. The 24-year-old will become the first female driver in 13 years to compete full time in the Indy NXT championship.

Chadwick joined the female free-to-enter W Series in its inaugural 2019 season, winning two races and the first of three consecutive championships. She has been a reserve driver for the Williams Formula One team and will continue in that role in 2023. She also has driven in the Extreme E Series.

Despite her success, Chadwick hasn’t landed a bigger ride in F3 or F2, and her break didn’t come until Michael Andretti contacted her and offered a test in an Indy NXT car.

The final three races of this year’s W Series schedule were canceled when funding fell through, but Chadwick still believes the all-female series was the right path for her.

“W Series has always been and will continue to be an opportunity to be racing for every female driver, so for my side, I looked at it while perhaps I would have liked to step up maybe earlier, at the same time being able to have that chance to race, get that experience, have that development, seat time… I was constantly learning,” Chadwick told The Associated Press.

“In that sense, I wasn’t frustrated at all. But on the flip side of it, now I’ve had that experience testing in the United States in Indy NXT and this is something I’m really excited about.”

Chadwick also is expected to have an enhanced role as a development driver next season with Williams, which chose American driver Logan Sargeant to fill its open seat on next year’s F1 grid.

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL,” said Michael Andretti. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but Indy NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing.

“We’ve turned out five Indy NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.

Andretti will field two drivers next season in IndyCar that were developed in Indy NXT: Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 champion, will return to Andretti after one season in IndyCar driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Devlin DeFrancesco is back for a second season.

Chadwick will be teammates in Indy NXT with Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster. She becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.