With fans back, Power is fastest at Road America practice

·2 min read

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (AP) -- Will Power had the fastest practice time to open the first day of the Rev Group Grand Prix doubleheader Saturday at Road America as IndyCar welcomed fans to its races for the first time this season.

Power, a Chevy driver and member of Team Penske, finished the more than 4-mile, 14-turn road course in 1 minute, 46.0021 seconds for a speed of 136.322 mph. He was followed in order by Jack Harvey (1:46.1606), Josef Newgarden (1:46.1914), Felix Rosenqvist (1:46.2319) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (1:46.2519).

Qualifying is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. Eastern with the race taking place at 5:15 p.m.

All the drivers are chasing Scott Dixon, who tops the point standings after winning the first two IndyCar races of the season at Fort Worth, Texas, and Indianapolis. This marks the first of two straight doubleheaders, as the IndyCar circuit heads to Iowa next weekend.

This is only the third event on the IndyCar schedule after the pandemic caused the season to start nearly three months late. It's the first IndyCar race of the year to feature spectators.

The series is treating each event separately, guided by local and state regulations.

Road America's sprawling, 640-acre layout surrounding the course allows fans to practice social distancing and roam the property rather than crowding into a grandstand.

''We thought this would be a good place,'' said Steve Lemon, a fan from Kankakee, Illinois, who says he usually goes to about three IndyCar races a year. ''We're very concerned, but obviously with it being spread out and being a road course, it's better than being stuck in a grandstand. It's safer.''

Lemon, who was wearing a face mask, said that ''if it had been an oval, we wouldn't have gone.''

Fans received temperature checks at gates and received masks and hand sanitizer as they entered. Wearing a mask was encouraged but not required.

IndyCar also plans to have spectators next weekend for a doubleheader in Iowa, where the oval track has grandstands. IndyCar organizers are hoping fans will fill 50% of the speedway's capacity for the Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23.

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