|Ryan Hunter-Reay quick in practice 2|
Ryan Hunter-Reay put the No.28 DHL Honda atop the time charts in today's second practice for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. The Andretti Autosport driver lapped the 2.258-mile circuit in 1:04.296s, 0.1414s ahead of second-place Josef Newgarden. Five-time Mid-Ohio winner Scott Dixon was third with Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi rounding out the top-five.
Today, it was a good run. Car was good," said the 36-year-old Floridian, whose best finish in 11 previous races at Mid-Ohio was third place on two occasions, including 2003 when he logged the first of what are now 37 career podium finishes.
"We just made some improvements on it, made the right steps through the session, some (changes) session to session," said Hunter-Reay, who has finished third (Iowa Speedway) and sixth (streets of Toronto) in the past two races. "We didn't test here a week ago, so it's nice to see we have the pace from last year, that we were able to roll in and improve from last year."
Three Verizon IndyCar Series championship contenders trailed Hunter-Reay on the day's time sheet. Josef Newgarden was second at 1:04.4375 (126.150 mph) in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet. Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing was third in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda (1:04.4910, 126.045 mph) and Simon Pagenaud fourth in the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet (1:04.5625, 125.906 mph).
Dixon leads the standings after 12 of 17 races. The four-time series champion is three points ahead of Helio Castroneves, 19 in front of reigning series champion and 2016 Mid-Ohio winner Pagenaud and 23 up on Newgarden.
"I think it's a good start for the No. 9 NTT Data car," Dixon said. "Finishing P3 overall today isn't bad, but you always want to be at the top at the end of the day. I love racing here, I love Mid-Ohio and all its challenges. I hope we can continue to improve tomorrow and put on a good show Sunday."
Next practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series will begin at 9:55 a.m. tomorrow.
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): "The Menards Chevy was good today. We were able to fine tune a few things throughout the day. We had good speed in the car, but it's a matter of getting the balance right. Our knowledge base is good for the track. We had good success a year ago. It's nice for me to feel better physically this year. I had a little tweak of my back here last year that made it a pretty difficult weekend, but this year all is well. I'm looking forward to qualifying tomorrow. It's such a chess match here and that's a fun challenge."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet): "I think we had a pretty good session. It's fun driving the PPG car. It's my first time driving it. Simon (Pagenaud) had a lot of good luck in it last year. I think he won three races in this car. I'm excited to drive it – looks good, feels fast. We were quick in the first session, too. We ended up seventh. But this track is such a game of when you run, you know, where in the tire life you are at what stage of the session. The track just keeps getting quicker and quicker as you run. You got to be the last man standing here almost. I think that's going to be the case tomorrow in qualifying. You got to try and time everything as best you can, be the last person across the line. For us, I think we've had some good success this year on road courses. We probably could have had even more success at a couple other places that didn't fully materialize. But I think we're there, thereabouts. I think the whole group at Team Penske is fast. We have to make sure to stay on top of it as always and not let something good slip away. We have good cars this weekend. We have to try to capitalize on that."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "We accomplished a lot today with the Hitachi Chevy – lots of good data to help us make the car even better. It's important in this series to keep working at it. If you don't, then you get passed by. I feel good about how the car was today and how it will be tomorrow. Qualifying is extremely important here, so we'll have to be on top of our game."
CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "I think we found a few things that we need, but we also weren't able to take advantage of our (Firestone alternate) red tires as well as we would have liked. I think the car's balance is a little bit different on the reds than on the (Firestone primary) blacks, so hopefully we can try and sort that out. But I think it's a positive day for us. It's close, it's very, very close. We need two-tenths to be in the top 10, so that's very typical of Mid-Ohio, so hopefully, we can get some of that out of it."
MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): "Typical day in INDYCAR today really for the team. We were right up there today in the first practice this morning after unloading fast, and then made some changes and weren't up there in the afternoon. That's how close the racing is here. One change can send you back. I do like this track as it's very challenging. The Gallagher team will be up for qualifying tomorrow."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda): "I think it's a good start for the No. 9 NTT Data car. Finishing P3 overall today isn't bad, but you always want to be at the top at the end of the day. I love racing here. I love Mid-Ohio and all its challenges. I hope we can continue to improve tomorrow and put on a good show Sunday."
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): "Honestly, we didn't have near as bad of a day as it looks in the practice results. We still have some work to do with the No. 10 NTT Data Honda on (Firestone alternate) red tires, but on the (Firestone primary) blacks we were as fast as the leaders. We just couldn't ever get a clean, fast lap on black tires to show the No. 10 NTT Data Honda's real speed."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was a good day for the Verizon Chevrolet team. We felt like we're in a good place in terms of spend and balance. Mid-Ohio is a track that is on my list. I've not gotten a win here and I really want to change that. We've been on the pole here, been up front and led laps, but haven't gotten the win. We'll see what qualifying brings tomorrow, but you don't want to be too far back here or it becomes very difficult to get into position to win."
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "The second session was a little bit of a mess. I think we did just one run because we had some electrical issues in the car, so the first part of the session we were just figuring out what happened there. Then we put (Firestone alternate) red tires on and it started raining, and then the last few laps, the tires weren't the same. So we have to look to tomorrow to still improve." (About his overall day): "It's hard to judge. When the session didn't go nice and smooth, the thing is we're still missing a little bit to be in the top 10."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak 'n Shake Honda) : "We are lacking some performance. Even this morning that was the case." (About setting the second fastest lap time in Practice 1): "We ran new tires at the very end of the session and certain guys didn't. While we were up there on the lap times, perhaps we were putting a Band-Aid on the situation a little bit. With that being said, I don't think we are far off. I have got to somehow figure out how to get the rear of the car under control. It's been biting us on a lot of road courses. We just can't seem to figure it out. We have to work hard tonight and improve the Steak 'n Shake car for tomorrow."
ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ (No. 18 UNIFIN Honda): "It was a bit tricky in Practice 1 this morning. We struggled to find some speed. We then made some changes for Practice 2 and that was a positive change. We did a pretty fast time on the primary tires, but then on the Firestone red (alternate) tires, I got traffic on the optimum lap so we couldn't really put the lap together there. I think we have a good baseline and we'll work tonight to try and find some more speed for tomorrow."
ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): "It was a bit frustrating. I think there's a lot more potential than our result on the time charts today. We tried a few things and they didn't go the way we wanted. There was also some traffic and the bit of rain that delayed the session that didn't help. I think we need to make some changes to the car for tomorrow, and if we get things right, we can be right up in the top 10."
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "We definitely made some changes that were positive and had a solid morning practice session. We also tried some things that just didn't work out as well as we hoped, especially on the (Firestone alternate) red tires in the afternoon. I didn't get quite the feel of the car I was looking for, so we'll see if we can revert back to what we had and get back into the top 10. I'm excited to see what the rest of the weekend brings."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "We definitely didn't have the speed we were looking for today, so it was a bit frustrating. We understand where we need to improve and we've got a lot of data to look through. We'll put our heads together tonight to figure out how to make as much use out of the practice session tomorrow morning before we qualify."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): "I think it was a productive day. As typical at Mid-Ohio, we started off around five seconds off the pace, and then through the session it dramatically improved for the track evolution. We need to understand the balances better, but I think we made some good progress today for the Ruoff Home Mortgage team. Hopefully, we carry on this momentum and have a good day tomorrow."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda): "Today was a good start for the No. 27 team, but we need to make some fine adjustments if we want to qualify in the (Firestone) Fast Six tomorrow. Overall, the whole team showed good pace, so I think we are on the right track."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "Today, it was a good run. Car was good. We just made some improvements on it, made the right steps through the session, some session-to-session. We didn't test here a week ago, so it's nice to see we have the pace from last year, that we were able to roll in and improve from last year. All in all, pretty good day. I have a lot of work to do tomorrow. We know everybody else is going to be improving. It's amazing if you look at the Practice 1 session times, just how close everything is. There's no margin for error. So it's going to be that way again tomorrow. Just happy to have a nice, productive day. Look forward to another one of those tomorrow hopefully."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): "Overall it wasn't a good day at all for the No. 83 car. We missed the setup a little bit and we missed the timing. We really could've used that little bit of track time we lost this afternoon with the rain to get the car a little better. The nice thing is that the No. 9 car is quick, so we'll have their data to learn from. I'm really encouraged by the stops in pit stop practice – the guys really crushed it today. We'll carry that momentum forward to figure out what we need to do to qualify well tomorrow and finish up front on Sunday."
ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda): "It was a good day today. I think we made a pretty good step forward each session in terms of car setup. I'm missing a little bit of speed compared to Ryan (Hunter-Reay), but I think we know where that is. Overall, I think it was a pretty positive day for the whole team and we will have a strong showing tomorrow for qualifying."