Kanaan leads opening IndyCar practice in Detroit; results and qualifying groups

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DETROIT – Tony Kanaan has led the opening 75-minute practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans.

Kanaan, now in the Taylor Swift THE 1989 WORLD TOUR livery, topped the timesheets with a 1:16.2931 near the end of the incident-filled session.

There were five red flags but no major incidents.

Sage Karam, who caused one of the reds with an off exiting Turn 3, ended an impressive second with three Team Penske drivers: Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves completing the top five.

Times are below:

source:

From INDYCAR, there were several aerodynamic changes done prior to the session.

Here is the notification from INDYCAR, per its Daily Trackside Report:

Alterations to the Chevrolet and Honda road/street course aerodynamic platforms have been implemented by corresponding teams for this weekend’s Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans.

INDYCAR mandated that Honda teams remove the outer vertical wall of the front wing assembly end fence, attached flaps and strakes.

“We’ve been very cautious of any change that would make the car a challenge to drive and spoke with the manufacturer beforehand to make sure that wasn’t the case,” INDYCAR vice president of technology Will Phillips said. “The manufacturer understood our motivation and supported this action.”

Teams have installed a patch where the vertical wall had been attached to the front wing assembly. There is minimal balance change required by teams, according to Phillips.

For the Detroit doubleheader, Chevrolet has introduced a winglet on the top of each sidepod for added downforce, creating a potential performance increase on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn street circuit.

“You pick and choose your homologated optional components depending on their efficiency for a specific track. Chevy deems this track is right for this part,” Phillips said.

Here are qualifying groups for the first of two races:

Group 1: 10-Tony Kanaan, 1-Will Power, 3-Helio Castroneves, 11-Sebastien Bourdais, 14-Takuma Sato, 27-Marco Andretti, 15-Graham Rahal, 20-Luca Filippi, 83-Charlie Kimball, 19-Tristan Vautier, 5-Conor Daly, 98-Gabby Chaves

Group 2: 8-Sage Karam, 22-Simon Pagenaud, 4-Stefano Coletti, 9-Scott Dixon, 2-Juan Pablo Montoya, 41-Jack Hawksworth, 67-Josef Newgarden, 7-James Jakes, 28-Ryan Hunter-Reay, 26-Carlos Munoz, 18-Rodolfo Gonzalez

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds