By: Spencer Neff
June 6, 2019 | 9:43 PM
Thursday evening, a two-hour practice session was planned for 22 NTT IndyCar Series entrants. In preparation for Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 at the 1.44-mile Texas Motor Speedway, the race weekend started a day earlier than normal.
Additionally, the practice session this evening was near the scheduled green flag time that we will see on Saturday evening. Therefore, the NTT IndyCar Series teams and drivers hoped to get in some quality runs in preparation for the 248-lap race.
Unfortunately, inclement weather took a toll on those plans. Just over an hour into the session, a heavy downpour brought out the second yellow flag.
This time, it would be for good after drivers ran a combined 719 laps. Less than a half-hour earlier, the rain had caused a brief stoppage in the action.After practice was called, three-time Texas Motor Speedway winner Scott Dixon topped the speed chart in his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
Looking to make it two in a row at TMS and in the series, the defending champion posted a best lap of 219.308 mph (23.6380 seconds). Four days earlier, Dixon earned his first win of 2019 in Race 2 of the doubleheader weekend at Belle Isle.
Now, here’s a look at some of the other major storylines from the opening practice.
Honda shows the way early on
In addition to Dixon, the session proved fruitful for some other drivers. Two of Dixon’s 13 fellow Honda-powered competitors were chief among them.
Completing a 1-2-3 finish for Honda, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing duo of Takuma Sato and 2016 Texas winner Graham Rahal slotted in behind Dixon.
Boasting the fastest Chevrolet in the session is Carlin Racing’s Charlie Kimball, in just his third race of 2019. With a lap of 217.503, the 2017 Texas pole sitter finished the evening in fourth after running a session-low 19 laps.
Rounding out the top-five was two-time Texas Motor Speedway winner Will Power. In running 48 laps, Power topped the field in terms of track time during practice.
After a disappointing 33rd-place finish at the Indianapolis 500 on May 26, Colton Herta will look to rebound.
Making his second IndyCar appearance on an oval, the winner at Circuit of the Americas was the fastest of the four rookies in the field. During the rain-shortened practice, the Harding Steinbrenner Racing driver’s best lap was a 217.095 mph effort. This was good enough for seventh overall.
In all, the first 16 drivers posted a fastest lap above 215 mph around TMS. Among those 16, ten ran their best lap under the 24-second mark. Between Dixon and 22nd place Conor Daly, the gap is a scant 0.8411 seconds.
On Tuesday, Daly was announced as the substitute for Max Chilton as the driver of Carlin Racing’s No. 59 entry.
In the announcement, Chilton revealed he will step away from the remaining ovals in 2019. Running in just his second IndyCar race of the year, Daly’s best lap was clocked at an average of 211.772 mph.
No-Tow Recap: Veach tops eight timed drivers
With practice being called off early, only eight drivers recorded a no-tow lap.
A no-tow speed is when a driver does not have another car within eight seconds of them. With the new aero kit, this has often been the best indicator of potential favorites for the pole at tracks like Texas.
Among the eight drivers with a recorded no-tow lap, Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach was fastest. During practice, the sophomore driver turned a best no-tow lap of 215.766 mph.
Following Veach, four other drivers turned no-tow laps above 210 mph. Those drivers included his teammates Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay, as well as their Honda stablemate James Hinchcliffe.
Between the three Chevrolet entries to get a no-tow lap on the board, Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot was fastest (211.016 mph).
Teams will get a one-hour practice on Friday starting at 3:00 PM Eastern and then qualifications will be shown live on NBCSN at 6:45 PM Eastern on Friday evening.
The race will go green at 8:45 PM Eastern on NBCSN on Saturday night. All practice sessions will be shown live on the NBC Sports Gold IndyCar Pass, and fans can check out RaceControl.IndyCar.com for live timing and scoring as well as radio commentary from the Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network.
Lastly, continue to check out Open-Wheels.Com for all the latest news and developments. In addition to coverage of all on-track sessions, we will have additional content online. Also, don’t forget to follow us on our social media pages via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Header Image By Chris Jones/INDYCAR.