Hunter-Reay Tops First Practice in Sonoma as Rossi Struggles

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SONOMA, Calif. – The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to Sonoma Raceway this weekend for the finale of what has been an exciting and unpredictable 2018 season. Championship contenders Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi are separated by just 29 points.

Penske drivers Will Power and Josef Newgarden also have a mathematical chance if their cards fall right. Sonoma has produced exciting and unpredictable championship results in the past, and unpredictability has to be what Power and Newgarden are hoping for.

The first practice session kicked off what looks to be a perfect weekend weather-wise. Both championship contenders waited until nearly the halfway mark of Practice 1 to take to the track. Scott Dixon wasted no time setting the second fastest lap of the session with a 1:17.83.

After almost losing his car through the carousel at Turn 6, Rossi spun exiting Turn 9 as he appeared to have trouble getting heat into his tires. The Andretti driver would finish with a time of 1:18.27, good enough for 8th. It was Ryan Hunter-Reay who topped the session with a time of 1:17.57 in his Chevy powered #28.

Joining RHR and Dixon in the top 5 were Will Power with a time of 1:17.88, Simon Pagenaud who set a 1:17.96, and Marco Andretti with a 1:18.09. Josef Newgarden’s crew were battling an electrical issue on the #1 Verizon car throughout the session as Newgarden sat in the pitlane for the duration of Practice 1.

There were a few incidents of note throughout the session. Tony Kanaan in his #14 ABC Supply machine locked up two laps in a row into the chicane on the back straight, heading through the dirt both times.

Alexander Rossi spun his #27 at the exit of the chicane, Turn 9, before recovering and resuming. Rossi appeared to be fighting his Napa Autoparts machine early in his stint. The session was red flagged with a little over 18 minutes remaining as James Hinchcliffe got loose and spun as he crested the hill at Turn 2.

His Honda powered #5 machine did contact the wall lightly after a trip through the dirt but there did not appear to be heavy damage. Hinch would spin again as the session closed at what appears to be a tricky Turn 9.

Practice 2 goes green at 3PM local time, 6 Eastern. Stay tuned to Open-Wheels.com for coverage and check out @OpenWheels on Instagram for photos and videos throughout the weekend.

Image courtesy of INDYCAR Media.

Justin Reschke

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