By: Spencer Neff
September 21, 2019 | 1:15 PM
For the second straight day, a rookie topped the practice charts at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. In the final practice before Sunday’s season finale Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist ran a session-best lap of 1m10.4065s (114.433 mph).
With a 26-point edge over Dale Coyne Racing’s Santino Ferrucci, Rosenqvist will look to wrap up the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year crown at the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course in Salinas, California.
As he looks to hang on to his 41-point lead and win his second IndyCar championship, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden ran second, just 0.1823 seconds behind Rosenqvist’s best time.
Following Newgarden were his Penske teammates Will Power and Simon Pagenaud. Heading into the weekend, Pagenaud is 42 points back of Newgarden in third place. Bookending the top five for Honda was Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato.
In sixth, Rosenqvist’s teammate Scott Dixon will look to make it six career titles and two in a row, but will have to win do so as he has 86 points to make up on Newgarden. As for Newgarden’s main title competitor, Alexander Rossi, he continued an eventful weekend by running 10th overall.
Outside of the title contenders. one driver did experience some issues during Friday’s second practice. For now, those issues seem to have been remedied.
Bourdais returns after sitting out Friday warmup
Late yesterday afternoon, Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan’s Sebastien Bourdais developed some neck issues. As a result, he and his No. 18 team elected to sit out the warmup session.
This morning, Bourdais was back in the car. However, his team did bring a relief driver should one be needed: Current sports car driver and 2013 Rookie of the Year winner Tristan Vautier was on standby.
Although he has not run an IndyCar event since 2017 at Texas Motor Speedway, Vautier has a prior start in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship at the track, finishing 12th that same year.
During the third practice, Bourdais ran the most laps of any driver (22) but was only 14th-fastest. With a big qualifying session on tap for this afternoon, Bourdais’ condition will be worth watching.
Here is the remaining schedule of on-track activity for this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. In addition, broadcast info is included. All times are local track time (Pacific Time). Stay with Open-Wheels and our platforms for all the latest from the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.
Saturday, Sept. 21
1:35 p.m. – Firestone Fast Six Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (three rounds of knockout qualifying), NBCSN (live)
Sunday, Sept. 22
11:30 a.m. – Driver introductions
11:30 p.m. – NBC on air
12:08 p.m. – Start engines command
12:15 p.m. – Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey (90 laps), NBC (live)
Header image by Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR.