Vautier leads Honda onslaught in Baltimore
Rookie Tristan Vautier turned the fastest lap in the second practice session for the Baltimore Grand Prix Friday afternoon. Vautier toured the city street circuit in 1m19.4792s to lead two Americans - Graham Rahal and Josef Newgarden on the 2.04-mile 12-turn course. Newgarden was also fast in the morning session.
Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top-5 as Honda powered cars dominated as they have done in recent months. Honda started out the season slow but they now have Chevy's number.
The session ended with Penske driver Will Power, winner last weekend in Sonoma, in the tire barrier. The Andretti team is struggling so far down in 14th, 15th, 16th and 21st, which is not like them.
||Simona De Silvestro
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): "Overall, we went through quite a few changes. It was a clean day for the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car but we'll look at things overnight. It's nice to have teammates; we'll look at their lap times for comparison. We'll figure out where we need to get better for tomorrow and be ready for qualifying."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "We just keep trying to learn things. Try to work out where the car is going to align and where you can get back on the power and try to miss the walls. It's a crazy track. It's throwing the cars around a lot. They don't spend much time on the ground. It's a handful and we just have to try to work it out and move up the time sheet."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was a decent start to the weekend today for the Verizon team. I think we still have a bit of work to do on the car to get it to where it needs to be and find some more speed. The track itself is very physical, especially the chicanes. Those are pretty tough. On the last lap there in the afternoon session I just locked up the tires going into Turn 9 and fortunately there wasn't much in the way of damage to the front wing. We'll give it another go tomorrow."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "We had a good day. We just have to stay on top of it because cars can get away pretty quick in this championship. I think we're off to a great start, we just have to have a good weekend and try and get ourselves back in these races. We've had a couple of rough weekends and I think we could get really good results here and that would be good for everybody so that's what we're focused on."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "This is always a tough track. The first session I didn't do a good job putting quality laps together. In the second session, we were a little better in trying to close the gap on the leaders. But we still have a lot of work to do for Saturday. The track changes every year that we have been here. It is never the same curbs and the walls are a little different too. In fact, it is almost like learning a new track every year. The first day is always rough on the teams with the different pavement and concrete surfaces too."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "I think the main thing about today is that we didn't take a set of new tires at the end of the second practice session like a lot of other teams did. We didn't do a lot of running overall today, just about 12 laps or so. We worked on overall balance of the car and I'm reasonably happy to this point with the Target car. We'll stay after it and hopefully have a good result in qualifying tomorrow."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Cessna Honda): "Obviously this morning's first practice session was a bit of a non-issue after the sensor issue we had on the throttle. (Car was limited to five laps) This afternoon the Cessna car wasn't too bad. We still have a lot of work to do. We definitely made progress every run thus far, and it's really bumpy out there. But it's the same for everyone."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet): "Baltimore is a different kind of place. It's a bumpy track, for sure, and it takes a lot out of you. If you put a good lap together here you're really doing something because it's very difficult to control the car. But the PPG Team Penske guys did a good job today and we're looking for a brighter day tomorrow. We'll be ready to go for qualifying."
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 55 Environmental Rail Solutions Schmidt Peterson Honda): "It's very special to have the Environmental Rail Solutions logo on the car. It started pretty good for us, we unloaded pretty good this morning and kept the momentum going through this afternoon. It's been pretty special, it just keeps going faster and faster for us. I don't know, I just love this place. We started well, but I think it's going to be about keeping improving because everybody is going to keep improving and it's always very hard to put everything together at the right time. So I have to really keep focused and keep executing really well to stay up there."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 blu eCigs Honda): "Well it's an improvement over where we've been. I think that if we felt confident at any of our disciplines this year, the street courses seem to be where our team has been pretty strong. Combining that with the gains that we found at Sonoma, it seems to be working pretty well. We're all very pleased with the blu eCigs car, I think that the guys have done a phenomenal job putting us in a good spot to start with. Really, what's been nice is that we've only been just doing fine tweaks, we haven't made any big changes, and that's something all year that we've done. From one session to another it'd be a big roll center, and this that and the other thing, and you never can work on the car then, you're always chasing yourself. I think we found some things and I hope it carries over to tomorrow. I'm sure everybody will say this, but I know on old tires I can get up a couple of tenths on my best lap to the sector through here, so I know there's a little bit more time in it. However I was pretty surprised that those times held up, because we started this session on new tires and we did that time pretty early. I really thought that someone else would jump up there in the meantime, but it feels good, just going to keep working it."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "The ride was unbelievable. It's a bumpy track so your goal is to make the car ride the bumps well. The team has just done a great job in giving me a car that is capable of winning the race this weekend. Some weekends you're trying so hard and you can't quite get the speed but this weekend we feel very strong."
JAMES JAKES (No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Honda): ""We have an issue with the brake pedal and I think it has been going on for some time now maybe going back to Mid-Ohio. We've got to figure it out and see what's going on because as of right now it's almost undriveable. It's frustrating."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): "It's tough. Right now we need to regroup as a team and go forward with some testing tomorrow. We're all a little bit off paced from where we need to be. At the moment, the way the curbs and chicanes are set up you need to put your car at major risk to get the lap time. I'm not quite there on putting the DHL Chevy at full risk - we'll see, I'm fully confident we'll be on it for tomorrow."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 Dr Pepper Chevrolet): "We totally went the wrong way today, but we were trying something that we thought we needed for qualifying tomorrow. I'm glad we got it out of the way today because now we know and won't be a change behind tomorrow. I think we are headed in the right direction and can hopefully see the Dr Pepper car in the (Firestone) Fast Six. tomorrow"
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet): "It's funny. We're coming off a race where we had two full test days before a full race weekend; you felt like you had all the time in the world and still it wasn't enough to do all the changes you want to do. With street circuits there is no testing and we had a bunch of things we wanted to accomplish today, and I'd say we actually got most of them done - which for us this year is saying something, we haven't had the best luck at doing that so far. The times don't look awesome, we didn't get new tires there at the end, but largely I'm actually pretty happy with the GoDaddy car. We made small changes on it during the last session because the lunch changes were really good. Hopefully we can keep fine tuning things here and there because I think we're pretty close. It's definitely a car that can fight for the (Firestone) Fast Six."
E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA Citgo Chevrolet): ""Tough day. I think as a team, we are not where we are supposed to be. We just definitely need to work hard tonight and come up with some good changes and good ideas for tomorrow. It is extremely competitive, and it seems this track helps and really suits the Honda teams; I'm sure that overnight there will be some changes happening from us and Team Chevy."