ELKHART LAKE – Loving running is one thing. Needing a break is another.
They’re not mutually exclusive, especially not as the NTT IndyCar Series wraps up a five-weekend streak at the track on Sunday with the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America.
Pato O’Ward is set for the day off, although he believes with testing and other commitments he will only have a total of around seven free days on his schedule from May to July.
“There are a lot of things, outside factors that come into play, what I went through last year in the middle of the year where you sometimes forget to eat and you forget to hydrate, you don’t sleep well “, O’Ward said. before the start of training on Friday. “And that can really cost you, and I felt that in July of last year when I was just beside myself.”
O’Ward, 23, has learned his lesson and been more mindful of his well-being in his third full season.
While this weekend may not be as physically taxing as last weekend on the Belle Isle Street course in Detroit, 55 laps around 4 miles of Road America can be intense.
“I just like to go do something that’s not a race,” O’Ward said of his mental reset. “Whether we had a good weekend or not, it’s good not to think about the race.”
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Positive tests for Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport
Alexander Rossi, who suffered a 43-race winless streak since Road America in 2019, sat at the top of the speed chart after the first practice session.
His lap of 1 minute 45.602 seconds edged Andretti Autosport teammate Colton Herta by 0.1334 seconds. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson finished third.
“The car drove very well, which is positive on these weekends when we are so close. You have to start from a good point,” said Rossi, who recently signed with Arrow McLaren SP for next season.
Rossi was fifth in the Indianapolis 500 two weeks ago and second Sunday in Detroit.
“Everything has been fine ever since,” he said. “May was a strong month for us. Unfortunately, the GP (of Indianapolis) did not go as we hoped. But there were a lot of upsides, if you will, and hopefully we can go one step further this weekend compared to last Sunday.
Another practice session is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. Saturday and qualifying at 12:45 p.m., plus a final 30-minute practice session at 4:20 p.m.
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Reason to smile for Simona de Silvestro
Although she was nowhere near where she wanted to be on the timesheet, about 3 seconds off Rossi’s pace, Simona de Silvestro was happy to be back in IndyCar.
This weekend is the first of three races scheduled for the 33-year-old Swiss driver and Peretta Autosport.
“I felt like I came out of the session and literally the car was driving me, I was just getting used to everything,” said de Silvestro, who has not raced since a sports car last October. “I don’t want to be the last, but we’re not too far away. There are a few things I have to clean up on the ride, just to get used to it.
“It looks pretty familiar to me, but to really be where I want to be, hopefully (I) sleep on it and be better tomorrow and be more acclimatized.”
De Silvestro ran full-time in the series from 2010 to 2013, but has only made four starts since then. In 69 starts, she had 15 top 10 finishes with a best of second on the Houston Urban Course in 2013.
Easy on the hands for rookies Kyle Kirkwood, Callum Ilott
Kyle Kirkwood’s swollen right hand looked like “a pumpkin” after hitting a tire barrier last weekend, but gutted the Detroit Grand Prix. Callum Ilott was unable to race after fracturing his right hand in an accident at the Indianapolis 500 a week earlier. He has since been cleared.
Time has helped the two recover. Road America should too.
“I’ve gotten pretty much all my grip strength back, which is what I need,” said Kirkwood, who sprained his wrist and stretched every muscle in his hand.
“It’s the easiest track we come to, I think, physically, at least the road courses. So that shouldn’t even be a thought this weekend.
Ilott was 15th and Kirkwood 21st among 27 drivers on Friday.
Road America to be repaved
Count Rossi among those who are delighted to learn that Road America will be repaved at the end of this season.
“Damn yeah,” Rossi said. “That will be great.
“When you think of Watkins (Glen), when they repaved that, and Barber (Motorsports Park), it was like unlimited grip and lap times. For us, as drivers, all we want is to go faster. Wish we could repave it now.