ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—As the Verizon IndyCar Series opened their 2018 season on the streets of St. Petersburg Friday morning, A.J. Foyt’s ABC Supply Racing team was in the top 10 when the checkered fell.
In practice 1, Matheus ‘Matt’ Leist surprised everyone (including himself) when he emerged as quickest of the 24 starters. His teammate Tony Kanaan set the pace early and then elected not to put on new tires towards the end of the season.
Rookie Leist was in the top 10 from the beginning of the session and then popped up to the top of the speed chart in the final minutes after putting on fresh tires, as did many of those behind him. In the second session, Kanaan showed the consistency expected of a veteran with another ninth-place performance while Leist dipped to 12th in that session.
Kanaan summarized his day, saying, “It was a decent first day. The biggest accomplishment we wanted to do was have the ABC Supply team running all day. We did that and everybody stayed calm. We had a very good first session and I knew people were going to step it up [in the second session] so now we just need to keep our heads together. It was a decent second session, we’re there. The goal obviously is to win races but we came here to be realistic and I think if we are in the top 10 for this first race and what we’re building, it would be really good. We’re there right now [inside top 10] so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Leist, whose first session in an IndyCar resulted in P1, was pleased with his team’s efforts and is confident about their chances this weekend.
“The whole day was pretty good I think. The first practice we were P1 so I was impressed with myself [laughs] and probably the team was as well. It was a good start to the weekend and I think the second session went good as well. We probably had a car to finish in the top-five but I just had too much traffic when I was on reds. P12 is still good I think. I’m looking forward to the weekend and the season. Probably tomorrow is going to be a better day than today and we’re going to be up there with the top guys.”
The top five in practice in the second session were Ryan Hunter-Reay (Honda), James Hinchcliffe (H), Will Power (Chevrolet), Scott Dixon (H) and defending IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden (C).
There will be another practice in tomorrow which will be streamed live on IndyCar.com starting at 11:10 a.m. ET. Qualifying begins at 2:20 p.m. ET and will also streamed live on IndyCar.com.