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:

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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

Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”