Hindered by rain, the beginning of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park was marked with a delayed opening practice session that saw Alexander Rossi surface with the fastest lap.
The 184.424 mph lap that put Rossi and the No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda atop the 21-car field came on his 28th of 29 total laps during the hourlong session which was interrupted by 37 minutes of yellow-flag time.
Rossi, chasing Scott Dixon in the points standings, was followed by the Chip Ganassi Racing pilot on the timesheet to kick off the two-day weekend and final oval race of 2018. At 182.773 mph, Dixon was 0.2204 seconds off the pace laid down by Rossi.
A further 0.0132 seconds slower than Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais added a third Honda to the top three to give the Japanese manufacturer a sweep of the top positions. Tony Kanaan was the fastest Chevrolet driver in fourth while Ed Jones completed the top five, 0.2756 seconds off Rossi’s session-leading time.
Ryan Hunter-Reay led Spencer Pigot, Zach Veach, James Hinchcliffe and reigning Gateway victor Josef Newgarden in completing a top 10 that was split by 0.5402 seconds.
Beyond the initial delay of more than three hours due to heavy rain in the morning, Practice 1 faced multiple track conditions-related caution periods and was also paused when Marco Andretti’s Honda stopped on track and required a tow.
To best take advantage of Friday following heavy morning rain, INDYCAR canceled qualifying and extended the nighttime practice session an extra half hour. Originally scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. EDT, Practice 2 will run from 7:30–9 p.m.