O’Ward, who finished fourth in the 2020 championship, his first full season in the NTT IndyCar Series, lapped the 1.7-mile course in 51.790sec.
That put him 0.138sec faster than Andretti Autosport-Honda’s Alexander Rossi, who traveled straight to Sebring Raceway from his victory with Wayne Taylor Racing’s Acura in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.
Team Penske-Chevrolet’s two-time champion Josef Newgarden was third fastest a quarter second down but ahead of Colton Herta and Oliver Askew, who was subbing for the unavailable James Hinchcliffe in Andretti’s #29 car.
Felix Rosenqvist, in only his second test with the Arrow McLaren SP team, was sixth, just under half a second from O’Ward.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda’s Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal were seventh and ninth, split by Conor Daly in the Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevy whose teammate Rinus VeeKay – 2020 Rookie of the Year – completed the top 10.
As in the previous Sebring test, Rahal turned the most laps of the day – 157 – although all but two cars hit triple digit lap counts.
Team Penske’s Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and rookie Scott McLaughlin ended the day in 11th, 12th and 14th, with Ryan Hunter-Reay slotting the fourth Andretti car into 13th.
While the Arrow McLaren SP team ran the same testing livery it wore this time last year, McLaughlin ran a striking new colorscheme for PPG, which will be primary sponsor at 10 of his 17 races this year, while Power’s car will this season carry matte black with red trimming for the 5G Verizon network, a livery previously only seen at the Indy 500.
|1||5||Pato O’Ward||Arrow McLaren SP||Chevrolet||51.790||124|
|2||27||Alexander Rossi||Andretti Autosport||Honda||51.928||-0.138||122|
|3||2||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||Chevrolet||52.055||-0.265||138|
|4||26||Colton Herta||Andretti Autosport||Honda||52.061||-0.271||116|
|5||29||Oliver Askew||Andretti Autosport||Honda||52.240||-0.450||109|
|6||7||Felix Rosenqvist||Arrow McLaren SP||Chevrolet||52.258||-0.468||91|
|7||39||Takuma Sato||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Honda||52.302||-0.512||139|
|8||20||Conor Daly||Ed Carpenter Racing||Chevrolet||52.311||-0.521||123|
|9||15||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Honda||52.356||-0.566||157|
|10||21||Rinus VeeKay||Ed Carpenter Racing||Chevrolet||52.358||-0.568||99|
|11||12||Will Power||Team Penske||Chevrolet||52.362||-0.572||145|
|12||22||Simon Pagenaud||Team Penske||Chevrolet||52.378||-0.588||120|
|13||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||Honda||52.464||-0.674||106|
|14||3||Scott McLaughlin||Team Penske||Chevrolet||52.469||-0.679||130|
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Photo by: Will Power
Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet
Photo by: Team Penske