Power paces Penske 1-2-3 at Milwaukee hybrid test

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The 43-year-old Aussie, fresh off his win at Road America last Sunday, throttled to a flying lap of 161.681mph around the repaved version of the historic one-mile oval.

In a replication of last Sunday’s results where Team Penske swept the podium at nearby Road America, Power was followed by team-mates Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin in second and third, respectively.

Newgarden, the two-time reigning Indianapolis 500 winner, came across at 160.759mph. Meanwhile, McLaughlin’s established quick time was at 160.639mph.

Twenty drivers pounded the new pavement for a total of 3,563 laps around the short oval, which will host a doubleheader in the penultimate round of the 2024 IndyCar Series season on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. Every car was equipped with the new hybrid unit that is set to make its official race debut July 5-7 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 26 Andretti Global Honda of Colton Herta was fourth (160.137mph), ahead of Pato O’Ward in fifth (159.993mph) in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet.

Of note, the test also featured the return of David Malukas, who was recently confirmed for the rest of the year in the No. 66 Honda for Meyer Shank Racing after missing the opening seven points-paying races due to a wrist injury from a mountain biking accident in preseason eventually led to being released by Arrow McLaren in late April.

Malukas, a 22-year-old American-Lithuanian ended up eighth at 159.253mph.

The gate outside Turn 1 had problems being closed correctly, which impacted the first hour of running in the morning. The afternoon session, which featured race simulation sequences with the field divided into two groups, was also delayed by roughly 35 minutes due to light rain.

For me it was a pretty seamless day,” Newgarden said. “It seemed like an easygoing day for most people.

“The system, certainly from the last time I ran it, it operates pretty seamlessly. Just not having a lot of hiccups with it. We’ve definitely had a lot of miles on it now. It seems to work really well. Pretty robust.

“I think it’s impossible to say we’re not going to have any issues. It’s like any new part, if there’s a new part, there’s always going to be some risk of something still needing to be developed.

“Up to this point, I think we’ve seen the system is fairly robust. It’s ready to drive I think in a race condition. Yeah, I’m excited to see this new chapter for the rest of the year.”

North America’s premier open-wheel championship has not competed at Milwaukee since 2015. The only active drivers still in the series to have won at the oval are Power (2014) and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon (2009)

“It hasn’t changed much,” Power said. “I think those patches don’t seem to have much grip though in the middle of the corners, which is really good for passing. It’s the same track. It feels exactly like it did.

“I did really well here. It was one of my favorite ovals. I had been looking forward to coming here.”

Jay Frye, president of IndyCar, expressed his satisfaction with how the day was executed.

“This was another important milestone for the IndyCar hybrid power unit,” Frye said.

“Chevrolet and Honda checked a lot of boxes today, and none of it could happen without the continued partnership and support of our drivers and teams. The anticipation grows, and we cannot wait to see the hybrid era begin at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in a few weeks.”

Chip Ganassi Racing and Juncos Hollinger Racing did not participate in the test due to several of their respective drivers entered in this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Drivers who did not test the hybrid at Milwaukee will get another opportunity during a session held later in the season.

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