ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Scott Dixon and Will Power ended first and second in the second 45-minute practice for this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, season opener for the Verizon IndyCar Series 2017 campaign.
Dixon ensured Hondas had the top times in both sessions, with Marco Andretti having ended first this morning.
“The whole offseason has been so busy off the track for people at Ganassi, with a lot of work and trying to get caught up. It’s nice to have a refresh,” Dixon told IndyCar Radio after the session.
“Friday doesn’t mean anything other than mileage. We’ll hope to work with the changes we made today and make it better for tomorrow.”
Dixon’s best time was a 1:02.5591 in his new blue No. 9 GE LED Lighting Honda, with Power second and top Chevrolet at 1:02.8416 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Power, who had a slight incident in the morning, returned from that in that first session and ran fine today in this one.
Ganassi teammates Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball were third and fourth with Sebastien Bourdais completing the top five in the session.
The practice session was the first since the introduction of Firestone’s red alternate sidewall compounds that teams could run one set of reds in the second practice session. As such, most fast times in the session were set on the reds, but not Dixon’s. And that time on blacks which was more than a second up on Andretti’s best time of 1:03.7559 this morning.
Another incident occurred in a rather weird spot on course, causing the only red flag of this practice. Takuma Sato ran off going into the Turn 13/14 hairpin but while his front tires locked up, his rear ones didn’t. The driver of the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda went hard into the concrete barrier, having just missed the tire barrier at corner entry by a fraction. He was OK but the Andretti Autosport team will have a bit of work ahead of them to repair the chassis for Saturday.
Times are below. Third practice runs at 10:50 a.m. ET and local time on Saturday morning.
Jalek Swoll and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammate Malcolm Stewart sustained injury in separate crashes late last week. Stewart missed Anaheim 2 and Swoll will not mount up for the 250 East season opener in Houston on February 4.
“Spent all of yesterday in the ER and today getting surgery so haven’t been able to make an update post,” Swoll posted on Instagram. “Spiral fractured my humorous yesterday and was lucky enough to get into surgery today. Absolutely heartbroken that I couldn’t show all the hard work me, [Mike Brown], [Aldon Baker], and [Joel Perez] were working on truly felt like this year was going to a big one with massive improvements we made but I guess it just wasn’t my time.”
The team announced on Instagram that Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken bone in his arm, sustained in a practice crash on Friday. After missing the division opener, no further timeline has been given for his return.
Swoll made eight starts in the 250 West division last season with a best finish of fifth. In 2021, he scored his first SuperMotocross win in the outdoor Pro Motocross season at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania.
Stewart missed Anaheim 2 due to a practice injury. Likewise, the team did not announce a timetable for Stewart’s return.
He showed a lot of speed in the first two rounds before accidents eliminated him from contention in both rounds. He finished 16th at Anaheim 1 and 15th in San Diego, putting him in a points’ deficit that was already going to be difficult to overcome.
Stewart entered the 2023 season with a ton of confidence and believed all he needed was to stack his chips the right way to get this year’s championship.
Husqvarna is now represented by RJ Hampshire in the 250 West division and Christian Craig in 450s.
Hampshire had a rough weekend in Anaheim 2 and finished 11th in the overall standings after scoring a last place result in Race 2 with a bike sidelined by crash damage and a 13th in Race 3 after another fall.
Craig has not yet scored a top-10 on his 450 with a best of 11th at San Diego and Anaheim 2.
The news of these two injuries comes on the heels of the Pro Circuit Kawasaki team losing three of their four 250 riders.
Last week, Pro Circuit Kawasaki announced Seth Hammaker would miss the season opener with a wrist injury. Almost immediately, it was announced Jo Shimoda would also miss the 250 East opener with a shoulder injury.
Chris Blose will serve as a replacement rider in the 250 East division with Carson Mumford scheduled to replace the injured Austin Forkner in the West.