The exceptionally wet track during practice 2 yesterday limited seat time for drivers ahead of qualifying. Few teams ventured out in the damp conditions but with the weather forecast predicting a dry qualifying, practice 1 was where the best indicators could be found.
It is always hard to tell what program teams are running on Friday in terms of set-up and fuel primarily. The speed of the Ganassi cars of Kanaan and Dixon could be real or otherwise. If genuine they look like being able to mix it up with Team Penske later on today. Pre-race I tipped Dixon to show well given his natural flair for road courses and on the basis of practice 1 at least this could convert to a strong qualifying performance.
Friday also saw tempers flaring in the Penske team as Juan Pablo Montoya remonstrated with Simon Pagenaud. The Colombian felt Pagenaud was hindering him on Friday morning. Montoya was clearly not enjoying being down the order relative to Power, with the former F1 driver likely considering the defending champion as his biggest rival for the championship. The possibility/eventual inevitability of the Team Penske drivers tripping each other up at some point adds a further spice to the Louisiana mix for qualifying.
Honda’s teams are, as expected, still at a deficit it would seem. Aside from compromising their potential at NOLA, the frenetic schedule of races subsequently offers little time to work out the kinks and find areas for improvement. Losing track time yesterday during to the rain certainly will not help that development process.
With Sebastien Bourdais likely to be there or thereabouts in qualifying and some combination of Newgarden, Hinchcliffe, Karam and Chaves similarly, Team Penske might not get it all their own way.