The NTT IndyCar Series is back in beautiful Elkhart Lake for Round 9 of the 2021 season. The action at Road America got underway on Friday with the first practice session, which was led by Romain Grosjean. He continues his impressive rookie campaign, posting a best lap of 1:47.6781 seconds around the scenic road course. Just behind him was Ryan Hunter-Reay, Josef Newgarden, Alex Palou, and Graham Rahal.
Grosjean wasn’t the only rookie performing well on Friday as Scott McLaughlin was 8th fastest in his Team Penske Chevrolet. Entering this weekend, Penske is still searching for their first victory of the season. Championship points leader and last weekend’s race winner Pato O’Ward was 11th fastest today, nearly winning here last season. Scott Dixon was just behind O’Ward in 12th when practice concluded.
Road America Friday Practice Results
“It’s a good start to a track that is very different from when we came testing,” Grosjean said. “So I think we’ve got some work to do on a set up. But yeah, we’ve managed to get a good lap at the end. So that’s good for the race weekend.” Although it was a hot and humid day, tomorrow’s forecast will be much cooler, with rain possible in the morning. Temperatures will rise again on race day, but more rain looms, making it difficult for teams and drivers to get their cars dialed in.
Rinus VeeKay was not medically cleared for this event following Tuesday’s surgery to repair a broken left clavicle injured in a cycling accident. VeeKay, fifth in the season standings, is being replaced in the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet by 2019 Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew. He didn’t skip a beat on Friday though, finishing the day 9th fastest in practice. The only hiccup he had came in his interview after the session ended.
Felix Rosenqvist is still not ready to return to the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet and has been replaced this weekend by Kevin Magnussen, a veteran of seven Formula One seasons who won last weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar race at Belle Isle. Magnussen will make his IndyCar debut this weekend and is hoping to do more in the future.
One other driver making his debut this weekend is NASCAR Cup Series and sports car driver Cody Ware. After testing at Road America earlier this month, Ware will drive the No. 52 Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing in his maiden IndyCar race.
Alexander Rossi is trying to end his winless drought at the place where he last saw victory lane. While difficult to fathom, Rossi’s last win was here at Road America during the 2019 season. He was just 16th fastest today but has run well here, so don’t be surprised to see him up front tomorrow and Sunday during the race.
There will be another 45-minute practice session tomorrow morning at 11:05 ET, followed by qualifying for the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America, which begins at 1:30 PM. Qualifying will air live on Peacock and will be shown on a delay on NBC Sports Network.