The final chance for 22 Verizon IndyCar Series drivers to prepare for the season-ending 2017 GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma gave Graham Rahal a chance to show what his Honda can do with a fast lap seventh-tenths of a second quicker than the rest of the field.
Rahal’s best time came later in the session on the 16th of 20 total laps turned by the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing machine. The 1:16.9608, while well short of Josef Newgarden’s qualifying pace, was strong enough to keep him on top at the conclusion of the 30-minute session.
Spencer Pigot, who will drive the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet full-time in 2018, ended warm-up with the second fastest lap. The young American driver turned a 1:17.6641 in the No. 20 Chevrolet he shared with Ed Carpenter this year.
Scott Dixon, now trailing Newgarden by four points in the championship standings, was third fastest in the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. The three-time Sonoma winner will start from the outside of Row 3 in the race.
Helio Castroneves, who was fastest just past the halfway point of the session, settled for the fourth-fastest lap in the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet. The 20-year veteran’s future remains an unknown.
Championship leader and Sonoma pole sitter Josef Newgarden ended warm-up with the fifth-fastest lap. The No. 2 Chevrolet went around the 2.385-mile, 12-turn circuit with a time of 1:17.8073, more than two seconds slower than Newgarden’s qualifying effort.
Alexander Rossi, Marco Andretti, Takuma Sato, Carlos Munoz and Ryan Hunter-Reay completed the top 10 with Honda holding a 6-4 advantage in the group.
Championship hopefuls Simon Pagenaud and Will Power ended the session with the 16th- and 19th-fastest laps, respectively.
The series will be on track next for the 85-lap race set to go green at 3:50 p.m. PDT on Sunday. Live television coverage will commence on NBCSN at 6:30 p.m. EDT.