MONTEREY, Calif – Rookie of the Year candidate Colton Herta may have been the fastest driver in the opening practice session for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey Friday morning, but the story of the day so far at Laguna Seca Raceway has been the driver who ranked dead last.
Championship contender Alexander Rossi posted the slowest lap of the 24 drivers entered in this weekend’s race, with a best time of 1 minute, 12.9932 seconds around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course that was 2.2597 seconds behind Herta.
Sunday’s season finale at Laguna Seca will determine the championship among four contenders. Josef Newgarden leads Rossi by 41 points with Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon also in the hunt.
Andretti Autosport representatives declined an interview request for Rossi following the session, though Team Chief Operating Officer Rob Edwards confirmed to NBC Sports’ Marty Snider that the No. 27 Honda spent the majority of the session on pit road due to an unspecified on-board hardware issue, which Rossi later confirmed to be a broken bolt. The 27-year-old California native completed only four laps in the first session, the fewest of all drivers.
At the top of the board, Herta’s fellow rookie of the year contenders, rookies Felix Rosenqvist (-0.0719 seconds) and Santino Ferrucci (-0.1502 seconds), were second and third fastest, respectfully. Portland winner Will Power ended the session in fourth, and Zach Veach was fifth.
Simon Pagenaud was the fastest of the championship contenders, ending the session in sixth. Series points leader Josef Newgarden ended the session ninth fastest, while Scott Dixon finished the session in 14th.
Live coverage of Practice 2 for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey begins later this evening at 5:10 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold.