Luke Smith  |    |   0  |  11 February 2017

Josef Newgarden leads opening day of Phoenix IndyCar test

Josef Newgarden made an impressive start to life with Penske in the Verizon IndyCar Series by topping the opening day of collective pre-season testing at Phoenix International Raceway.

Newgarden has replaced Juan Pablo Montoya at Penske for 2017 after two breakout years with Ed Carpenter Racing in which he claimed three victories, and finished fourth in last year's drivers' standings.

The 2011 Indy Lights champion turned in a fastest lap of 19.3511s during the afternoon session on Friday, finishing 0.01 seconds clear of former teammate and boss Ed Carpenter in the overall standings.

"I think we had a pretty good start to today,” Newgarden said. “The car was really great off the truck, so we didn’t have to do too much. We just got into our program and had a pretty easy start.”

Marco Andretti slotted into third place at the end of the day after leading the night-time session for Andretti Autosport, finishing one-tenth of a second behind Newgarden. Graham Rahal ended up fourth-fastest ahead of 2013 series champion Will Power, while Newgarden's ECR replacement, JR Hildebrand, finished sixth overall.

The running was interrupted by a number of caution periods, albeit mainly for track inspections, with the only car issue affecting A. J. Foyt's Conor Daly after a leak on his engine.

Testing continues at Phoenix on Saturday with another six hours of running.

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