Conor Daly was fastest in the final practice for the Bommarito Automoitve Group 500 at World Wide Technology raceway at Gateway Friday evening, positing a lap 181.931 mph with less than 10 minutes remaining in the session.
But the positive emotions surrounding the Carlin Racing team would quickly turn to mixed ones, as teammate Charlie Kimball made contact with the inside wall exiting Turn 4 just minutes later, which caused significant damage to his car and prematurely ended the session under the caution flag. Kimball walked away from the accident safely.
The caution, however, could not have come at a worse time for race polesitter Josef Newgarden, who finished the session second-fastest with a 181.312 mph lap.
Newgarden’s No. 2 Chevrolet was in the pits when the yellow came out for Kimball’s accident, as his Team Penske crew was attempting to diagnose engine issues. Because Newgarden was unable to return to the track before the session ended, the team now faces the tough question of whether or not an engine change will be necessary,
Zach Veach (181.033 mph) ended the session third-fastest, with Takuma Sato (180.947 mph) and Felix Rosenqvist (180.806 mph) ending the session fourth and fifth-fastest, respectfully.
“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.
“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”
The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).
“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.
“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”
“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”
Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:
Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).