Kanaan leads Chevrolet top-seven sweep in incident-filled NOLA first practice

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AVONDALE, La. – Tony Kanaan has led the opening 90-minute practice session for the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN), in an incident-filled and a Chevrolet-routed session.

Kanaan posted a flier of 1:18.8753 in the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, which edged St. Petersburg polesitter and defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, at 1:18.9292. Kanaan’s teammate Scott Dixon, clocked in third at 1:18.9662 in the No. 9 Brita Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

What are usually the pair of red Ganassi cars are primarily blue this weekend, Dixon’s car shifting from its usual Target red for its first partner livery of the season. This unofficially marks the first race since 1989 there is not a Target-sponsored Ganassi car in the race.

Until the final minute, 12 of the top 13 runners were Chevrolets, including a top-10 sweep by Chevrolet. Dale Coyne Racing’s Carlos Huertas in 11th was the top Honda runner until the final laps.

However, late fliers from James Hinchcliffe and Gabby Chaves to end eighth and ninth interrupted the Chevrolet dominance. Hinchcliffe, in the No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda, was 0.6011 of a second off Kanaan’s best time in eighth overall.

Kanaan led Power, Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud, with Josef Newgarden and Sage Karam the top seven in Chevrolets. Hinchcliffe, Chaves and St. Petersburg race winner Juan Pablo Montoya completed the top 10.

A total of six red flags flew in the session. Jack Hawksworth stopped on track at Turn 3 to cause the first, Francesco Dracone spun exiting Turn 5 to cause the second, a third brief red flag occurred shortly thereafter, Huertas spun exiting Turn 6 and Luca Filippi narrowly avoided him to cause red number four, Hinchcliffe spun exiting Turn 5 in No. 5 for the fifth, and a brief spin by Dixon exiting Turn 1 completed the half dozen.

Stefano Coletti also had a wild ride through the gravel exiting Turn 6 but survived without any further damage.

Second practice runs from 4:15 to 5:35 p.m., for an 80-minute session later this afternoon.