Chevrolet claimed the fastest three positions on the leaderboard at the checkered flag of first practice for Sunday’s Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park.
Josef Newgarden, driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet, finished first with his fastest lap of 1:06.7045 seconds.
Pato O’Ward, driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, followed Newgarden in second with his fastest lap of 1:06.7875, followed by Will Power, driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet in third with his fastest lap of 1:06.7914.
Team Chevy was represented by five in the top-10 after the first practice session, with including Newgarden, O’Ward, Power, Romain Grosjean, driver of the No. 77 Juncos Racing Chevrolet, and Scott McLaughlin, driver of the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet.
On Saturday, Team Chevy will take to the track for second practice at 12:15 p.m. ET, as well as qualifying and the Firestone Fast Six at 3:30 p.m. ET for Sunday’s race at Barber Motorsports Park.
Sunday’s green flag for the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix from Barber Motorsports Park flies live on NBC at 1 p.m. ET.


1st Josef Newgarden

2nd Pato O’Ward

3rd Will Power

6th Romain Grosjean

9th Scott McLaughlin


Pato O’Ward, No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet:

“I love driving around this place. It’s a track I really enjoy and always have. It’s high-commitment. We’re just going to try to get the car a little bit better for tomorrow and see if we can get it done in qualifying.”

Théo Pourchaire, No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet:

“It was a smooth session. What was most important for me was to get as many laps as possible to learn the track and the car in those conditions. Everything is different from Long Beach, as the track here is very smooth with very high speeds. I need to learn the downforce and the limit of the car in those high-speed corners. Overall, I am satisfied. I had quite a bit of traffic on my alternate lap, and in the end, I think we would have been further up in the standings. It is a good start, but I need to continue building confidence. It should be a good weekend, as the car is great and Pato (O’Ward) showed we can be quite strong here.”

Alexander Rossi, No. 7 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet:

“That was a challenging session, and I don’t think we’re quite in the window yet. We need to look at what we are doing and how we can get things back to where we were at last month’s test. Not the way we wanted kick off the weekend, but we’ll focus on a stronger Practice 2 and qualifying.”

Gavin Ward, Team Principal at Arrow McLaren:

“We had a mixed bag today. Pato (O’Ward) got off to a good start here. He’s got the pace, and it’s a good reference for the other two cars to look at, which I think we’ve got a bit more to find. Alexander (Rossi) is not feeling really comfortable today, but I’ve got no doubt we’ve got the best people to figure that one out overnight. He sure knows how to drive an INDYCAR, so he should be alright tomorrow. This is definitely a different challenge than Long Beach for Théo (Pourchaire), and it’s a steep learning curve here to get confidence in the high speed and all that, but he’s building up to it once again, and there’s a bit we can do to help him get comfy. We’ll look for a decent step up overnight.”

Agustin Canapino, No. 78 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet:

“First practice here in Barber for the start of the weekend. We are P16. We had a few challenges in this session. I had a mistake, and we tried some different setups. I think it’s a good start but we can do a better job tomorrow.”

Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet:

“It doesn’t really mean anything yet. We’ve to get through qualifying, and mostly get to the race. I’m excited to be back here. I always feel good to be with the No. 2 PPG Chevy car crew. They’ve done a great job coming into here. They’re ready. I feel kind of ready. I want to be more ready. We just need to come and do our jobs.”

Scott McLaughlin, No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet:

“Good day. Pretty good day. Car feels alright. I think we’re a little shy on aero balance. Once we cram that into the No. 3 Good Ranchers Chevy, we’ll be just fine.”

Will Power, No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet:

“A very solid day to start the weekend here at Barber. We continue to have speed in the Verizon Chevy, and this is a place where we have been very successful as a team. The biggest thing here is to have trust in your car because you have to be committed each and every lap. I love racing here and looking for good things the rest of the weekend.”

ROMAIN GROSJEAN, NO. 77 JUNCOS HOLLINGER RACING CHEVROLET – First Practice Press Conference Transcript:

THE MODERATOR: Joining us, Romain Grosjean. Pole and podium here a year ago. Top 10 finish here, P1. Lead us off with your thoughts on practice today.

ROMAIN GROSJEAN: It went really well. Obviously it’s a hot day. I was surprised how good the car was from run one. I think we improved on run two. P1 on blacks. I thought we had a really good lap going on reds, like a lot of guys. I ended up with traffic on my (indiscernible) first laps. Came back in, made a quick change, came back out, did my fastest lap.

I’m happy with the car based on Friday. I think tomorrow and Sunday, things going to change again. I must say I’m impressed with the way the team works, the way the team works through the weekend. We know what we have. We know what we don’t have. I think I appreciate that. It seems to be working pretty well on track.

THE MODERATOR: Continue with questions.

Q. Romain, looked like you had a little bit of a tense moment towards the end of the session.

ROMAIN GROSJEAN: First of all, I went to apologize first thing after the session. It was on me. It was the fourth lap in a row that I got blocked. I did the French move that I was complaining, but I couldn’t turn the wheel with one hand. We actually made contact, which I feel a bit embarrassed about it, but it’s the honest true. Even Alexander Rossi wouldn’t believe me, but it’s the truth.

I wanted to push him a bit wide, showing I was not happy, but I never wanted to make contact. I just couldn’t turn the wheel. So I went to apologize.

I think everyone got blocked. It’s just Barber. It’s probably the most physical track of the season. It’s very hot. We’re pushing the limits on the car. High-speed corners.

Yeah, I’m not very proud of that moment, but I’m much more proud of our session generally.

Q. The small team thing. Do you feel like you’re raising the boat here? Are you progressing?

ROMAIN GROSJEAN: Yeah, it is a small team, as Dale Coyne was back in 2021. I think that’s the beauty of INDYCAR: you can be on pole in a small team and you can be on a podium in a small team. For the championship at the end, it’s always the big team, always Ganassi that wins the championship.

But yes, for sure it’s the beauty of the sport, the beauty of INDYCAR. The car quite is simple. Apart from the dampers, the rest, everyone has been here for the chassis, 11, 12 years old.

ROMAIN GROSJEAN: Everyone knows the chassis very well. Every engineer has been on another team once. At the end everything turns around. We have one engineer from Rahal last year.

ROMAIN GROSJEAN: Squirrel. They have the damper guy from Andretti from start of 2023. It just goes around, comes around, but it’s good.

Q. You’ve done very well here in the past. You race very well here. What is about this track that suits your style so well?

ROMAIN GROSJEAN: I’ve got no clue. Bit of courage maybe. I like it. I was out there today pushing it, having fun. Yeah, I mean, most of the tracks we’ve done well. I think it’s just that here for some reason it showed up more.

I think last year, of course being on pole is pretty good. The car worked really well. There were a couple places last year we could have done very well.

I think in 2022, when I joined my previous team from Dale Coyne, we had pole and P3 in Indy GP, P2 twice, never was on the podium for the last two years out of four races.

I think the car behaves how you get there. I think I have also more experience in INDYCAR that I’m able to know exactly what I want from the car.

Is funny to see. We just mentioned they’re the same car, but they’re set up different team to team. How the cars behave differently is quite funny.

Today was very competitive. Yeah, I don’t know. First time I came here, I wasn’t so fast. It’s not like it was my best track.

Q. There was a kid last Sunday that made his first INDYCAR race that said he grew up watching you race in Formula 1. Theo said you talked to him before the race and said this that is a great place for you to race. Could you maybe talk about how this kid adapted as fast as he did and how INDYCAR is becoming a destination series for young talent like that.

ROMAIN GROSJEAN: Yeah, I think INDYCAR is a great championship. Off course a lot of drivers, young drivers, wants to go to Formula 1. It’s still the pinnacle, is the highest media, highest paid, highest sponsor, everything you want in the world.

But I think you also have to realize it’s only 20 drivers in the world that make it to Formula 1, and are going to stay there for 10 years, 15 years, 20 years for Fernando. That means for those years, there’s no room for anyone else. I think you have to look somewhere else.

If you accept the fact that when you come to the U.S., INDYCAR you can actually really have a good career. You’re not going to make it to Formula 1, but you can be Scott Dixon, six-time champion, have an amazing career. If you accept that fact early on, you can come over and do it.

I think Christian Lundgaard did that well, realized there was probably no room for him in Formula 1 and came over, is doing a great job out here, is having a great life, having great fun in INDYCAR. It’s super competitive.

I think with everything we see, the 100 Days to Indy be on Netflix, we can have more and more fans. You see St. Pete, Long Beach. 200,000 sponsors. Monaco doesn’t have that. It’s a bit of a different setup, it’s hard to fit people. I think in that way we can do great.

The recipe is quite simple: bring the track to a nice place where you can bring the family, everyone is having a good weekend, a big city, then you’re going to have fans. If we have fans, we’re going to have more viewership. If we have more viewership, we are going to have more sponsors. If we have more sponsors, we will have better paid driver, and then it becomes packed like when the CART was here.

Like a series don’t really look like a Plan B, but it’s almost like a Plan A, if you’re never enough you’re not going to make it to Formula 1. Maybe you don’t want to make it to Formula 1.

Q. When you look at so many drivers’ careers who have nowhere to go, Formula 1, like Scott Dixon, when you’ve got guys like Lewis Hamilton that have won their championships, Max, you look at the guys over here, how do you evaluate greatness?

ROMAIN GROSJEAN: It’s funny, I was asked recently, What is success? I said, Well, that’s complicated. We all have a different scale of success. We all have different values.

I think if you look at Scott Dixon, if we look at Kristensen, Monsieur Le Mans, we look at their career, we can say it’s successful. Did they make it to Formula 1? No. But is it all about Formula 1 or is it all about winning? Is it just being on the grid in Formula 1 or is it about winning somewhere elsewhere? Maybe, yes, it’s not as high level, even though I don’t like putting it that way. It’s not media value as Formula 1. It’s still a competition.

There’s still great drivers out here. Still very complicated. We come from Long Beach, which is a street course, straight Barber, a very fast road course, then the month of May where we are on the speedway, then you go to Iowa, short ovals, different driving styles. Then the same thing in endurance, Le Mans, Sebring, Daytona. Those races are very hard.

It’s all depend right place, right time, opportunity, being clever. My career, I almost went to DTM back in 2010. I would never have made it back to Formula 1. It was one fun call where I decided I was going to risk it one more time to go back to DP2 back in the day, Formula 2, see if I was going to make it to Formula 1 or not. That day I could sign in DTM or try to make no money and go again in Formula 2, see what was coming. Those moments in life are very important. They’re choices. They have consequences behind.

It worked really well for me. I’m very lucky. I touch wood that I made it back to Formula 1. It could also be I try Formula 2, it would not work. What else? I would probably be a cook somewhere in a cuisine. Maybe in Alabama, not doing chicken waffle, though.

Yeah, it’s right place, right time, making that last call, which is key for the rest of your career.