SALINAS, Calif. (KION) - Even before qualifying for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, IndyCar drivers have already unofficially broken the track record at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Hélio Castroneves set the record back in 2000, but with a new racing surface, drivers are already posting times that are four seconds faster than last year.
Although unofficial, the results suggest it could be broken as soon as qualifying. Josef Newgarden thinks it is well within reach.
"I think the track record is definitely possible," Newgarden said. "Depending on when we run during the day, it's possible for that record to fall. It's really quick right now with the repave."
Graham Rahal said the resurfacing of the iconic track combined with warmer temperatures has allowed for drivers to take off so much time.
"It has always been a great track, but when you have grip like that, it makes things more enjoyable," Rahal said.
But while the resurfacing has caused times to drop, it has also caused a variety of new challenges as drivers adjust to the new conditions.
"It's a very different track to last year," Newgarden said. "The way you set up the car, the way you drive, it's a total 180 from what it was in the past.
With faster times early in the week and more warm weather in the forecast, the competition will continue to heat up at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
'It's going to be tight," Rahal said. "It's going to be really tight. I mean yesterday in the test, P1 through P22 was within a second, so it's going to be a bit of a wild card this weekend."
Qualifying begins Saturday with the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey capping off an exciting weekend on Sunday.