CHEVROLET INDYCAR AT LAGUNA SECA: Team Chevy Practice Report 2024

Scott McLaughlin, driver of the No. 3 Good Ranchers Team Penske Chevrolet, topped the first NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice session from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, with his fastest lap time of 1:07.6325 seconds around the legendary 2.238-mile course.
Team Chevy finished the one-hour, 15-minute practice session with five drivers in the top-10. McLaughlin’s Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden finished the session fourth, with Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi finishing sixth and eighth, respectively, followed by Team Penske’s Will Power in 10th.
Saturday sees a second practice session at 1 p.m. ET, as well as qualifying and the Firestone Fast Six at 5:15 p.m. ET. Coverage of both sessions is broadcasted via Peacock, as well as INDYCAR Radio and SiriusXM Channel 218.


Pos. Driver

1st Scott McLaughlin (1:07.6325)

4th Josef Newgarden (1:07.8805)

6th Pato O’Ward (1:08.0090)

8th Alexander Rossi (1:08.0771)

10th Will Power (1:08.1606)


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

“It’s the first time I’m racing here in the middle of the summer, but honestly it’s not as much of a change as I thought. We worked on some stuff in the practice and made the car better. We still have some work to do, but we’re in a better position than where we started in Practice 1, so we’ll see what we’ve got tomorrow.”

Nolan Siegel, No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet:

“We worked through some issues for a majority of the session, so we didn’t get a whole lot of laps in. It was difficult for me to get a read for everything and to get things figured out, but we’ll have more time tomorrow. The No. 6 NTT DATA Arrow McLaren Chevrolet is fast and I am not worried about where we’ll end up, but it was a bit of a struggle to sit out for a chunk of the first practice.”

Alexander Rossi, No. 7 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet:

“This was probably the best start to a race weekend we’ve had in a while, so that was a very positive step. I think the No. 7 VELO Arrow McLaren Chevrolet rolled off strong right away. The track has a bit less grip from last year which is unfortunate, but we’re right in the window with things as close as they always are in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.”

Gavin Ward, Team Principal at Arrow McLaren:

“As ever, it’s pretty tight at the top in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. I think we’re in the mix. It was unfortunate with Nolan as he worked to get up to speed, as we had an issue which we spent time diagnosing. The team wasn’t happy with something in the data and we lost time there, but we got back out there at the end and at least got a read for balance on the Firestone Red alternate tire. But, we got great references with the other two cars, and we’ll look to keep things going tomorrow.”

Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet:

“It’s quicker than it feels. It does feel like a lot less grip, but the lap times are not that bad compared to last year so it’s still really fast compared to the new pavement, you’re carrying a lot of speed, you’re tiptoeing more. Last year, the thing felt like it was stuck in the track. This year, it’s a little more line specific. Some corners, you just can’t miss the line otherwise you’re blowing the corner. It’s interesting, but it’s a fun track to drive. Man, it’s challenging. It’s very challenging track physically and a lot of demand on the car, which is great. The Hitachi car felt great. Hopefully, we’re in the fight tomorrow.”


“Yeah, they were pretty friendly. I think I could have optimized a little sooner in the run, but they weren’t too bad at the end. They still gave me the latitude to keep pushing which is always nice to see. We’ll see where we stack here and what we can improve on tonight. Team Chevy has done a great job, too. Drivability felt really, really nice. I think we’re in for hopefully being in contention tomorrow, and then Sunday’s the main show.”

Scott McLaughlin, No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet:

“Surprisingly, not as much as we thought (in a track change). Like, it has changed a little bit for sure, but it’s still grippy. I remember that. We had a full day of testing here before we got on, so the track was really rubbered up at this point of the weekend. For us, in the Good Ranchers Chevy, it feels good. The car just gets grippier and better and better as the rubber goes down. We were one of the last one to run tires there, so ultimately, the car has been good all session. I think we’re right there and we’ll see what we have later in the weekend.”

“Pretty good day in the Good Ranchers Chevy. The car was pretty hooked up from the get-go. Really good on reds when we turned it on. The track is getting faster and faster and I think it’s sort of coming to our car a little bit. More to come tomorrow.”


THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Josef Newgarden has joined us, driving the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. Looking for a big weekend back in California. Weird to be here in June. Considering how hot it is in the Midwest, we’ll take it.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, super nice. Great change of pace from the Midwest, East Coast. It’s beautiful out here. I think everyone is a fan of coming out to Monterey, this part of the country. Excited to be here.

The car felt pretty good in the first session. Always happy to start out with a good feeling. I thought we had that right away. As evidenced by Scott, too, I think our cars looked pretty solid.

Really pleased just to get going.

THE MODERATOR: What did you learn in the practice session?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: We kind of took it easy on our program, tried to limit some of the miles on the tires just given the nature of this weekend. You don’t have a ton of tires to work with. We want to make sure we are conservative for tomorrow.

I mean, I think the good thing we learned was that our car was in a nice window right away. That’s always a great thing to find out when you roll off. I was pretty happy with things. We didn’t make a ton of adjustments. Just getting a read between the different compounds, trying to understand how to strategize for tomorrow, which you always have to do in qualifying. That was sort of our thought process today.

THE MODERATOR: We’ll begin with questions.

Q. A lot of talk about the track having variable levels of grip. Did you find that to be true? Is it an online, offline thing, or even mid corner?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think turn two was like that. Probably the worst corner for it. It seems a bit patchy in turn two. You have some on-and-off grip through the corner that’s changing.

In general around the track, it seems a little bit more particular for line and car placement than last year. I think you really have to be on the rubber.

But it’s very fast still. It’s high grip. I feel like you’re tiptoeing a little bit more than last year, but the speed isn’t down very much. Maybe half a second slower to what last year’s time was, 6/10ths, something like that. It’s still pretty quick.

Yeah, a little bit more line precise and specific I’m finding this year.

Q. Away from this race, could you go back and explain what happens a week or so after you win an Indy 500.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Oh, man. We had a great trip. You go to New York. It’s a blast. I mean, that race, it’s a funny position to be in because it’s sort of a thing, and I mean this truthfully, I dread the most. I’m an introverted person. I like my alone time. You get no alone time when you win the Indy 500.

But it is the most incredible experience that you will go through in racing. To win that race, go through all the traditions afterwards, the week that follows it, it’s very special. You can feel the significance of what the Indy 500 is. It’s a huge impact. It’s very noticeable when you win the race.

We had a great time. Got to celebrate it. Got to champion the event. It’s really much more than that week afterwards. It’s the entire year where you get to celebrate the festivities of what the Indy 500 is, the tradition of the race.

You think about the ticket unveil coming for next year. They’re selling 300,000 tickets for this place. It’s very special to see the ticket, to be a part of that. It’s all the little things.

There’s nothing that captivates you like the Indy 500 and the history of it.

Q. The other five gentlemen who won it two years in a row, do you think it’s more difficult to win the event these days or was it more difficult for those guys to win it?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Oh, man, that’s a good question.

Well, probably subjective, but I mean you could argue both ways is what I would say. You could argue it was easier back then because you typically had bigger advantages on race cars. If you go back to the ’60s or ’70s, there’s people that would win that race by a lap at times. If you had a really good car, you were fast on a particular year, it was really about reliability then. Let’s make it 500 miles, if we can repeat that the next year, we bring the same thing, we should be able to do this.

Nowadays, because it is so close and so competitive, it seems harder to get it right year over year, right? But you could also argue that the cars are more reliable, the racing style maybe lends itself to being able to go back to back.

That’s a really hard question to answer. I mean, now thinking about it and going through the thought process for you, I think it’s difficult throughout the entire history. I really do.

Indy is so tough to get right. I never went to this year’s 500 expecting to win it again. I just don’t think you ever can. You go there with a tremendous amount of respect for the place. If it works out, it’s very gratifying and very special.

That’s why you don’t see it happen very often back to back because it’s so difficult to get that day right. It’s the pressure everybody is under the month of May to get it right on the one day. You’re there a long time working on the car, trying to get it right. It comes down to one moment. Everyone feels the pressure in that moment to really execute. I think that’s why it’s hard to nail it every year.

Q. You’re now coming to another road course after Road America. How is it coming to yet another road course, albeit different, going back to back? How is your mindset on all this?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think it’s just the beauty of INDYCAR racing. We’re going to different types of tracks very often. It’s what makes our sport unique. There are other disciplines of motorsport that race at various types of tracks, but they don’t do it in the veracity that INDYCAR does. You’re bouncing back and forth between disciplines week after week.

Obviously this is two back to back on road courses. But there’s some differences characteristic-wise. I think there’s two of the best we have in North America. Laguna is nice to get right, like Road America is.

I guess what I’m answering is I like the challenge of having to go between all these disciplines. Next we go to Mid-Ohio, Iowa short oval, then a street course after that, Toronto. Is non-stop juggling trying to get all these disciplines correct throughout the year.

Q. Is it nice maybe not to be in such a high-impact media center such as Monterey Peninsula as the Indy 500?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I feel the impact here for sure. We had a lot of fans out here today. It’s more so that you’re just removed a little bit from the 500, right? Some of the celebration has worn off, which is really nice. We get to just focus back on driving the race car again. That’s more what I’m noticing.

Q. A lot of times when you change the date, you think what you’re going to get when you get out to the racetrack. Looks like people showed up. As a veteran, is that nice to see?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, this is a real racer’s track. I think that’s part of the reason people that come out here, they enjoy the history of motorsport, they understand INDYCAR racing really well. It’s a legendary track. We all enjoy being here. You’re finding a lot of fans. You move the date, they’re still going to show up.

We love being out here. It’s noticeable that fans like being out here too. Like we talked about before, it’s nice to have this break in the middle of the summer, to be honest. The weather is beautiful. It’s not a mix-up that I’m mad about.

THE MODERATOR: Best of luck the rest of the way. Thank you.