Following a nearly three-hour delay for precipitation at Texas Motor Speedway that echoed the race’s 2016 tribulations, Practice 1 for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 went green at 12:57 p.m. CDT for a slightly abbreviated session topped by Scott Dixon.
Twenty-two Verizon IndyCar Series drivers took to the track, an increase of one over the standard seasonlong roster due to the addition of Gabby Chaves in the No. 88 Harding Racing Chevrolet.
Ed Carpenter Racing’s JR Hildebrand was the first to top the timesheet with 55 minutes remaining in the 63-minute session after slower installation laps by several drivers. The 216.558 mph lap was soon surpassed by another fast lap by Hildebrand, perching him atop the leaderboard at 219.744 mph.
Alexander Rossi was the first to circuit the 1.5-mile oval over 220 mph, rocketing around the superspeedway at 221.317 mph in the No. 98 Andretti Autosport Honda.
With 45 minutes to go while the track was under yellow for a track inspection, Rossi’s speed kept him fastest followed by Graham Rahal, Hildebrand, Dixon and Simon Pagenaud.
Near the halfway point with 30 minutes remaining, the 221 mph lap by Rossi remained unchallenged while Charlie Kimball had moved into the top five and Hildebrand had dropped out of it.
One more yellow flag came out for a track inspection in the second half of practice.
With 15 minutes remaining, Kimball supplanted Rossi at the top of the leaderboard after turning a 221.497 mph lap in the No. 83 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. As the minutes wound down, Kimball’s speed looked like it might stand as the fastest in the only practice session before qualifying.
Kimball’s teammate Dixon left 221 mph behind with just over one minute remaining, setting a blisteringly fast pace of 223.422 mph in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda. The speed was more than 1.5 mph faster than Kimball’s, dropping the Novo Nordisk-backed driver to second fastest.
Rossi, Rahal and Marco Andretti completed the top five with Takuma Sato, Ed Carpenter, Will Power, Tony Kanaan and Josef Newgarden filling positions six through 10.
Honda locked out the top six and had a 7-3 advantage in the top 10 over rival Chevrolet.
The day’s revised schedule calls for qualifying to begin at 3:15 p.m., consisting of single-car runs with the grid set by two-lap average speed. A final practice session will follow, tentatively set for 5:45 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to fly on Saturday at 7:45 p.m. to kick off 248 laps under the lights.