SONOMA, Calif. – Helio Castroneves paced the opening 75-minute practice session for this weekend’s Verizon IndyCar Series season finale, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
The driver of the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet posted a best time of 1:17.3298 around the 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway road course, as the Brazilian remains in search of his first win since Detroit in 2014.
Castroneves also enters the weekend tied with Scott Dixon for third place in the points standings, although neither has a shot at securing the championship. Simon Pagenaud has a 104-point lead over both of them.
Pagenaud was only 10th, and Team Penske title rival Will Power in 17th, in the opening session.
Hondas had a better session with second through sixth in the session with Marco Andretti having easily his best session of the year in second in the No. 27 Snapple Honda, at 1:17.4611.
Graham Rahal was third, Jack Hawksworth fourth and Ryan Hunter-Reay fifth, with Hunter-Reay doing the best he can under adverse circumstances this week.
While Hunter-Reay and wife Beccy had their third boy earlier in the week, with the bundle of joy that brought to the family, Beccy and brother Robby Gordon lost their father Bob on Thursday and are dealing with that.
Mikhail Aleshin, who is fighting a cold this weekend, made it five Hondas in the top six in sixth. A late spin at the end of the session brought no damage; just a light up of his tires.
Times are below. The 75-minute session ran without a red flag.
“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.
“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”
Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something
we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”