RYAN HUNTER-REAY/No.1 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet was the fastest Izod IndyCar driver at Sonoma Raceway Friday in the first practice session for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. The 2012 IndyCar Champion’s time was 1:18.6814/109.124 mph. He turned six laps.

Second was HELIO CASTRONEVES/NO.3 Team Penske Racing, the only other driver to drive over 109 mph..

Third through fifth were DARIO FRANCHITTI/No.10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, MARCO ANDRETTI/No.25 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet and RYAN BRISCOE/No.4 Panther Racing Chevrolet.

The sun came full out well before the start of the session, and the temperatures raised to the low sixties, with a desultory breeze.

Some of the drivers turned just a few laps and pitted, with a wait-and-see tactic. Many ran double-digit laps, with SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA/No.6 Dragon Racing Chevrolet doing the most laps – 17. He finished P17.

Several drivers topped the charts during the 45-minute session, including JUSTIN WILSON/No.19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS/No.7 Dragon Racing Chevrolet, and Briscoe.

Rookie JAMES DAVISON/No.18 Dale Coyne Racing was nineteenth fastest, with 14 laps.

No.97 RW Motorsports/SFHR Honda
No.97 RW Motorsports/SFHR Honda

Rookie LUCAS LUHR/No.97 RW Motorsports/SFHR Honda tested his limits, harmlessly spinning in Turn Seven, which Brembo Brakes calculates is IndyCar’s most difficult corner at Sonoma Raceway. Drivers head into T7 up to 155 mph, and then have the hardest braking zone on the IndyCar-specific circuit. They have two seconds to decelerate 100 mph.

With NASCAR, Turn Eleven is the hardest corner for braking, and for IndyCar, it is the second most difficult braking zone.

Luhr ran eleven laps and finished last for the session of the 25 cars.

WILL POWER/No.12 Team Penske Chevrolet and CHARLIE KIMBALL/No.83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Honda are among the drivers who will have in-car cameras this weekend. Power has an unusual angle coming from the right rear showing the track as he sees it.

The session was relatively trouble-free, all driver’s behaved themselves, and the only Red Flag time was 3+ minutes for a tire loose on course.

The second IndyCar practice session is scheduled for 2pm PT/5pm ET.

Graham Rahal and Robin Miller
Graham Rahal & Robin Miller
Leigh Diffey & Beaux Barfield
Leigh Diffey & Beaux Barfield