Penske team 1-2-3-4 in 2nd IndyCar practice

Newgarden fastest
Newgarden fastest

The other Chevy cars are slow but the Team Penske Chevys ran 1-2-3-4 in the 2nd practice session for the IndyCar season finale at Sonoma. What makes the Penske cars so fast? The superior Penske shock package that only Team Penske has.

Josef Newgarden, as he was in practice 1, turned the fastest lap at 1m16.249s to top teammate Pagenaud, Castroneves and Power.

RHR - best of the rest
RHR – best of the rest

Ryan Hunter-Reay was the fastest Honda driver in 5th.

Honda drivers were 5th thru 15th.

Sunday’s 85-lap race airs live on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network at 6:30 p.m. It will mark the 12th straight year that the championship is determined at the final race.

Including bonus points for pole position, leading a lap and most laps led, a maximum of 104 points is available this weekend. Newgarden leads Dixon by three points, Castroneves by 22, Pagenaud by 34, Power by 68, Rossi by 84 and Rahal by 94.

Holding a slim three-point lead entering the 2017 season-finale weekend at Sonoma Raceway, Newgarden's fast lap in the second 45-minute practice — 1 minute, 16.2485 seconds (112.605 mph) — was under the track record established last year by teammate Simon Pagenaud. Newgarden also paced the morning session with a lap of 1:16.3950 in the No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

The 26-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee, led all four Team Penske drivers atop the end-of-day time sheet, with Pagenaud second, Helio Castroneves third and Will Power fourth on the 12-turn, 2.385-mile permanent road course.

"I think it was a good session for us – good two sessions, really," said Newgarden, in his sixth Verizon IndyCar Series season and first with Team Penske. "I feel like the Penske cars are fast. We've had obviously a lot of test time, more than others recently. We had (a private team test) last week and then the (series) open test Thursday as well, so it's plenty of track time hopefully for us to sort out our stuff.

"I feel like we've done a pretty good job with that and I think that reflected in the times today from the whole team. We're all pretty close and have a good handle, I think, on what we want. It's a matter of putting that together (in qualifying) tomorrow."

Pagenaud, seeking to become the first repeat series champion since Dario Franchitti in 2011, was second on the time sheet with a lap of 1:16.2871 (112.549 mph) this afternoon in the No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet. Since track records may only be set in Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying or races, Pagenaud's Sonoma lap record of 1:16.2530 (112.599 mph) remains intact at least until Verizon P1 Award qualifying on Saturday.

"I'm very happy with how the car behaved, whether it's on new tires or older tires, and I think our pace on older tires is best to anyone right now," said Pagenaud, fourth in the standings, 34 points behind Newgarden. "So I feel very confident that if we start up front (in the race), we can be gone."

Helio Castroneves
Helio Castroneves

Castroneves was third in practice in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet (1:16.3471, 112.460 mph). Completing his 20th year in Indy cars and still seeking his first championship, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner is third in the standings, 22 points out of the lead.

Power, the 2014 series champion, was fourth on the combined speed chart with a lap of 1:16.4322 (112.335 mph) set in the first practice session. The driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet is fifth in the standings entering the weekend, 68 points behind Newgarden.

Four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon is second in the standings, three points behind Newgarden. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver was seventh on the combined speed chart today with a lap of 1:16.5863 (112.109 mph) in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda.

"We're right there, though, and we'll have to see how things shake out for qualifying," Dixon said. "I think we need to bring a little more speed and see what happens. Qualifying tomorrow is one thing, and I think last time we won this (in 2015) we qualified ninth, so anything is possible, really."

Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi finished fifth and sixth, respectively, on the combined time sheet. Hunter-Reay's best lap in the No. 28 DHL Honda (1:16.4829, 112.260 mph) came in the second practice while Rossi's top effort in the No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda (1:16.5720, 112.130 mph) came in the first session.

Quotes

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): "The car is really good. I'm very happy with how the car behaved, whether it's on new tires or older tires, and I think our pace on older tires is best to anyone right now. So, I feel very confident that if we start up front, we can be gone. Adapting is going to be key to the race. I feel confident, yeah. I think last year, you know, obviously qualifying was the turning point on the weekend. We didn't have the pace up until qualifying, but today and yesterday, I feel like we have the pace at any time. I've just got to put the lap together. If I put the lap together tomorrow, I think we'll be challenging for pole position, and once that's done, I'll feel a lot more relaxed about our chance to go for the win."

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "I think it was a good session for us, good two sessions really. I feel like the Penske cars are fast. We've had obviously a lot of test time, more than others recently. We had last week and then the Thursday, as well. So, it's plenty of track time hopefully for us to sort out our stuff, and I feel like we've done a pretty good job with that, and I think that reflected in the times today from the whole team. We're all pretty close and have a good handle, I think, on what we want. It's a matter of putting that together tomorrow. I think we've done most of the hard part figuring out what we need, now we just have to try and put it together when it counts."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "We had a strong No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet today. My guys have done a great job giving me a fast car. We definitely found speed but still have some areas we can improve on to get a little more out of the car. Qualifying is really key here at Sonoma, so we're going to try some things in the practice session tomorrow that we hope to apply to qualifying and see what happens."

CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "This is a really challenging track for sure for everybody but for me (especially) because last year we had a weekend cut short by a couple of engine failures, so I'm still learning this place. I have a lot to do driving-wise to improve but we are getting there on the car. It's been nice to have an extra test day. The balance is improving every session, so we just have to continue to close the gap and I think that's what we're doing."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "Today was a challenge. From what we're seeing with the tires here only being good for one run, you really have to kind of maximize each sticker set and commit to a change that you hope works, because trying to fix it on a second run, usually isn't very productive. It limits how much running we can do, and I think we've been seeing that across the board. Getting on the reds (Firestone alternate tires) for the first time this afternoon was helpful heading into qualifying tomorrow, but that definitely unveiled some issues we still have with the Arrow car. Not where we want to be on the time charts, but we're working hard at it, and hopefully, we'll be back stronger tomorrow for qualifying."

JACK HARVEY (No. 7 AutoNation Honda): "This morning was quite positive. I certainly felt like we had a more competitive car, better balance. This afternoon, I think the track conditions changed significantly, and I don't think we adapted to them particularly well. I think at least we know what didn't work so we can now go in the opposite direction and see what does work a little better. The AutoNation Sirius XM crew and I will just keep working, keep trying and use tomorrow morning's session as a good opportunity to learn something ahead of qualifying."

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): "We made a nice step forward in the right direction today, but still haven't gotten into the top 10. I think with where we started yesterday, we've been able to close the gap and get pointed in the right direction. I think we're dissecting the gaps into small bits and seeing where we can make up time and gain more ground. It's a process. We made a good step forward in final practice today but then we went the wrong direction with the downforce and hurt the balance of the Gallagher car. As a whole, we need to up our game overall, so we'll see what can be done to close that gap tomorrow here at Sonoma."

Scott Dixon
Scott Dixon

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda): "I think toward the end of the day we had a pretty rough run on the red tires and were only about two or two and a half tenths off the pace. We're right there though and we'll have to see how things shake out for qualifying. I think we need to bring a little more speed and see what happens. Qualifying tomorrow is one thing, and I think last time we won this, we qualified ninth, so anything is possible really. There is a lot that can happen especially with strategy in the race. I know this NTT Data car and this Ganassi crew are not going to lay down and we're going to try and get our fifth championship come Sunday."

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): "After yesterday's test and this morning's practice we saw where we were in regards to the Penske cars and we decided we needed to make some bigger changes with the setup from the first to second practice. This track is just difficult to get a handle on because the track changes so much throughout the day that what you learn in the morning might not translate to the afternoon. We feel like we're in a good place with the information we have so far. Now we just need to tweak some things in the morning practice and be ready to run in qualifying tomorrow afternoon."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was a good day for the Verizon Chevy. We had good speed in the car. For those wondering, I didn't have any problems with the knee. I don't even notice it. In the car, my knee is bent, and I haven't had any problems with it bent at all. Anyway, I liked the balance of the car and feel good heading into tomorrow. We'll work toward a good qualifying session. As I've said, we can only control our situation and the plan is to win the pole and win the race, then we'll see where it all falls at the end."

ZACHARY CLAMAN DEMELO (No. 13 Paysafe Honda): "Yesterday I just learned the track and learned the car during the test day and tried to get used to everything as fast as I could. It was more a learning day today than anything today. I started to push the Paysafe Honda a bit more. It was a good morning session. There was probably a bit more time in the car. I struggled a bit in the afternoon with the hotter temperatures and the new (red) tire but I'm still learning and I'm sure we will make good changes for tomorrow. The pit stops were really different than I have done before, but I think it came to me naturally. It was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to doing it in the race."

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "This morning wasn't so bad, but this afternoon we made some changes to the car that didn't work out. I didn't extract the most out of the red tires and they are quicker, for sure. We just have to work hard for tomorrow because qualifying is quite important in this race and also to have a consistent car. I think we have made progress compared to yesterday, the car feels a little bit better than yesterday."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals / SoldierStrong Honda): "It was a challenging day. We can't quite seem to get a hold on the rear end of the car here. It's very neutral and difficult to drive. We have thrown a lot of changes at the problem and have improved but there is a long way to go. We are frustrated but we're going to keep working hard."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 UNIFIN Honda): "I'm pretty happy with the performance and consistency we had in the morning session, but not so happy in the heat of the day with the wind picking up in the second session. We lost performance and control over the car. We put the Firestone red tires on earlier than most of our opposition, but I don't think it's the full story. We still had a pretty big loss of balance and not a big gain of grip on the reds which is not normal and not representative compared to our opposition, so we have to work on it. It's not something that I'm unused to, but it's always frustrating when you work for two days on the car and you get to a certain point where you're happy on the primary tires, and then you put on the options and it's not so good. We'll just have to work on it and see if we can find a better compromise."

ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): "The track conditions changed a lot since we tested yesterday. There are also cars from other series that have been on track so the different types of rubber are making it more challenging and more unpredictable compared to what we were used to yesterday. We made some good changes and some not so good changes, so we have some work to do overnight, but I think we can get the car in a good place for tomorrow. Our aim is to be in the fight for the Fast 12. The wind was changing directions a lot more yesterday. During our runs it was changing a lot more frequently. Today it wasn't too bad, so we'll have to see how it will be during qualifying tomorrow because that could be a big factor."

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "Between the two sessions, the balance of the car was completely different. We fixed one area of concern, but now we need to focus on a different area and get more speed out of it. We've learned a lot, but we need to be able to piece it other tomorrow for qualifying so hopefully we can do that."

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "This place is always a challenging spot. You're always kind of compromising here. I feel pretty good about where we are at. It's just all very close. Hopefully we can find a couple of good changes overnight and be able to put our laps together. I think we've got a pretty good shot at getting through the groups in qualifying tomorrow. Sunday, I think it's really going to come down to who plans correctly for whatever the conditions are because it's changing a lot throughout the day. The team is doing a good job at keeping up with it. Hopefully we can get it right tomorrow."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): "The Dickinson Fleet Services car feels good, and I think it was a productive day. It almost feels like a Saturday because we have already been driving two consecutive days (since the test), but it's good to have some time to go analyze the data and go catch up on things. We have some work to do for qualifying, but hopefully we will improve."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda): "It was a decent day two for the UFD team, at Sonoma. We ended up seventh (in Practice 2) so the goal now is going to be to try and make the right changes to get into the Firestone Fast Six. We're close to it, but the Penskes are in a league of their own right now. We just have to maximize what we have going on and we can have a pretty good result."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "I think we had a pretty good Friday to start the race weekend. We went from seventh or eighth yesterday to fifth today and we are the top Honda. We just have to turn that into a top five tomorrow, get into that Firestone Fast Six and go from there. Certainly the Penskes are what looks like our toughest competition right now, so we're going to have to make another step overnight but so far, so good for the No. 28 DHL Honda."

Alexander Rossi
Alexander Rossi

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): "I feel like we made some progress this afternoon and were a little more competitive than we had been. We're still not where we want to be at all. I think as a team we're looking for some grip, but overall it was nice to make some progress this afternoon. The conditions this afternoon in the second practice were more relevant for qualifying and the race Sunday afternoon. We'll go back and look at the data from today, especially from the No. 9 car. I believe he was a few tenths up the road. We'll look at all of the data and see what we can learn. I think we have a concept and a direction for tomorrow morning."

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda): "It was a good day and we got through a lot of test items. We missed the balance on the Firestone red (tires) so we know where the lap time is. It's very close here yet again – showing why this championship is so competitive. We have to make sure everything is right for qualifying because since the competition is so close. Any miscalculation can cost you some spots. I'm happy with where the NAPA Auto Parts car is, and we should have a good day tomorrow."

Results Practice 2

Pos No Name FTime Diff Gap FL Laps Engine Team
1 2 Josef Newgarden 1:16.249 –.—- –.—- 6 15 Chevy Team Penske
2 1 Simon Pagenaud 1:16.287 0.0386 0.0386 7 13 Chevy Team Penske
3 3 Helio Castroneves 1:16.347 0.0986 0.0600 8 10 Chevy Team Penske
4 12 Will Power 1:16.439 0.1904 0.0918 5 13 Chevy Team Penske
5 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 1:16.483 0.2344 0.0440 7 12 Honda Andretti Autosport
6 9 Scott Dixon 1:16.586 0.3378 0.1034 7 12 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
7 27 Marco Andretti 1:16.600 0.3514 0.0136 7 12 Honda Andretti Autosport with Yarrow
8 98 Alexander Rossi 1:16.672 0.4240 0.0726 9 15 Honda Andretti Herta Autosport
9 26 Takuma Sato 1:16.754 0.5057 0.0817 9 15 Honda Andretti Autosport
10 15 Graham Rahal 1:16.812 0.5636 0.0579 10 13 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan
11 10 Tony Kanaan 1:16.829 0.5806 0.0170 8 15 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
12 18 Sebastien Bourdais 1:16.975 0.7261 0.1455 8 16 Honda Dale Coyne Racing
13 83 Charlie Kimball 1:17.011 0.7621 0.0360 13 21 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
14 8 Max Chilton 1:17.055 0.8060 0.0439 9 15 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
15 5 James Hinchcliffe 1:17.172 0.9231 0.1171 5 11 Honda Schmidt Peterson
16 20 Spencer Pigot 1:17.261 1.0130 0.0899 10 16 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
17 19 Ed Jones 1:17.268 1.0196 0.0066 7 16 Honda Dale Coyne Racing
18 21 JR Hildebrand 1:17.379 1.1306 0.1110 15 23 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
19 4 Conor Daly 1:17.416 1.1671 0.0365 12 17 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
20 14 Carlos Munoz 1:17.681 1.4325 0.2654 11 17 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
21 7 Jack Harvey 1:17.988 1.7395 0.3070 7 16 Honda Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
22 13 Zachary Claman DeMelo 1:18.060 1.8119 0.0724 14 18 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan

Combined Practice Results

Pos Car Driver Name Engine Session Time Speed Total Laps
1 2 Newgarden, Josef CHEVY Practice 2 01:16.2485 112.605 23
2 1 Pagenaud, Simon CHEVY Practice 2 01:16.2871 112.549 25
3 3 Castroneves, Helio CHEVY Practice 2 01:16.3471 112.460 19
4 12 Power, Will CHEVY Practice 1 01:16.4322 112.335 25
5 28 Hunter-Reay, Ryan HONDA Practice 2 01:16.4829 112.260 21
6 98 Rossi, Alexander HONDA Practice 1 01:16.5720 112.130 28
7 9 Dixon, Scott HONDA Practice 2 01:16.5863 112.109 24
8 27 Andretti, Marco HONDA Practice 2 01:16.5999 112.089 22
9 18 Bourdais, Sebastien HONDA Practice 1 01:16.6060 112.080 31
10 10 Kanaan, Tony HONDA Practice 1 01:16.7484 111.872 23
11 26 Sato, Takuma HONDA Practice 2 01:16.7542 111.864 33
12 15 Rahal, Graham HONDA Practice 2 01:16.8121 111.779 28
13 83 Kimball, Charlie HONDA Practice 2 01:17.0106 111.491 34
14 8 Chilton, Max HONDA Practice 2 01:17.0545 111.428 27
15 5 Hinchcliffe, James HONDA Practice 1 01:17.1210 111.332 20
16 20 Pigot, Spencer CHEVY Practice 2 01:17.2615 111.129 29
17 19 Jones, Ed (R) HONDA Practice 2 01:17.2681 111.120 27
18 21 Hildebrand, JR CHEVY Practice 1 01:17.3287 111.033 39
19 4 Daly, Conor CHEVY Practice 2 01:17.4156 110.908 35
20 14 Munoz, Carlos CHEVY Practice 1 01:17.5451 110.723 30
21 7 Harvey, Jack (R) HONDA Practice 1 01:17.6168 110.620 29
22 13 Claman DeMelo, Zachary (R) HONDA Practice 1 01:17.9506 110.147 36

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