(NASHVILLE,TN) – What a roll Christian Lundgaard is on as of late. He picked up his 1st podium of the year last weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and today he finished P1 in Practice #1 for Sunday’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville. 

The field running on the alternate tires — green rather than red side walled this week, to signify Firestone’s new guayule-sourced tires — the Dane set a lap of 1:15.96 sec in his No. 30 Honda that was a relatively comfortable 0.23 secs clear of the field. It also marked the 1st session this season led by a Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver.

RESULTS

“I wasn’t expecting to be the fastest out car out there. The lap was good, but I think the green tires don’t last for long so it will be interesting to see how they cope with Q1, Fast 12 and Fast Six. If you have to save one for the Fast Six I think that would be the preferred way.”

Last week’s pole sitter Felix Rosenqvist  had another strong run for Arrow McLaren SP, taking P2 with a lap of 1:16.20 in his No. 7 Chevy, while David Malukas impressed again for Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports, posting the 3rd-best time with a lap of 1:16.23 in the No. 18 Honda.

While the organizers’ re profiling the street course appears to have smoothed out some of the fearsome bumps on the 2.17-mile street course, bottoming out and wheel-hopping remained an issue, while the session was interrupted by 5 red flags. However, most of these were relatively harmless stalls resulting from lock-ups into runoff zones.

The 75-minute afternoon session got underway under mostly cloudy skies with 88 degree heat and oppressive humidity, but the session got off to a slow start as most drivers chose to limit their early running in order to save their tires on the grueling circuit. The slow start was slightly more problematic for last week’s winner Alexander Rossi, who spent the majority of the session bleeding the brakes, but he was able to get up to speed relatively easily late in the session.

After the rookies held sway in the opening 15 minutes, headed by Malukas at 1:18.15, Tennessee’s own Josef Newgarden hit the track and immediately surged to the top of the charts with a lap of 1:18.07, which the Team Penske driver soon lowered to 1:17.38. Just as the balance of the field was getting up to speed, Dalton Kellett in the No.4 K-Line machine for AJ Foyt Racing brought out a brief red flag by going off into the runoff area and stalling.

When the session resumed a few minutes later, Romain Grosjean’s  No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda and the No. 3 Penske Chevy of Scott McLaughlin joined Newgarden in the 1:17.00. McLaughlin, then pushed his teammate off the top spot with a 1:16.84. Alex Palou all but matched that a few minutes later in No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Running on the alternate tires began with about 15 minutes to go, Rosenqvist showed the green’s strength first, but Lundgaard bettering that moments later at 1:15.96 in his first run on the same compound.

It was a tough start to the weekend for Helio Castroneves, who suffered light suspension damage after running just 9 laps, having been delayed getting on course due to a misfire in his Meyer Shank Racing No. 06 Honda. IndyCar announced earlier on Friday that Castroneves will have to take a 6-place grid drop on Sunday due to an unscheduled engine change.

UP NEXT: Practice #2, 12:15 PM ET Saturday