Castroneves leads Penske 1-2-3 in 2nd IndyCar practice

Castroneves was fastest in both Friday sessions
Castroneves was fastest in both Friday sessions

Helio Castroneves led a Penske Racing 1-2-3 in the 2nd practice session at Sonoma Raceway for the Go-Pro GP IndyCar race.

Castroneves led championship contenders Will Power and Simon Pagenaud. As has been the case all season, no one has shocks as good as the Penske shocks so look for the Penskes to dominate the weekend.

Andretti Honda teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi rounded out the top-5.

Conor Daly blew the guts out of his Honda engine with about 10 minutes to go in the session. Daly first felt a misfire and that is what Alexander Rossi felt when he parked his Honda on the front straight after feeling the same misfire and vibration, which brought out a final red flag to end the session.

"I love racing at Sonoma and the Hitachi Chevy was great today," said Castroneves, the 2008 Sonoma race winner. "We had a really good test here last week and that certainly helped today.

"Some things were different on the track and the wind had changed from the test, but the consistency we had in the car helped us get the most out of the practice," continued Castroneves, who hasn't celebrated a victory in more than two years – 43 starts ago at Belle Isle in 2014. "It's good to be on top, but you don't get any points for leading practice. We have to keep pushing to stay on top. It's going to be a great day on Sunday for Team Penske and we want to end the season right: with a win."

Power was second on the time sheet at 1:16.7072 (111.932 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, with Pagenaud third at 1:16.9757 (111.542 mph) in the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet. Pagenaud and Power are the only drivers mathematically eligible for the 2016 championship, with Pagenaud holding a 43-point advantage. The Sonoma race pays double points, with a maximum of 104 available including bonus points.

"I think we're both experienced enough to realize that, at the end of the day, it's going to be what it's going to be out on the track," said Power, the 2014 series champion. "We have a realistic shot this weekend. Everything's got to fall into place."

Andretti Autosport showed impressive results with all four of its drivers finishing in the top 11. Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda) was fourth at 1:17.0569 (111.424 mph) and Alexander Rossi (No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda) fifth at 1:17.0817 (111.388 mph).

"It was a positive day overall," Hunter-Reay said. "I think we left some time on the table. We know where we have some imbalances to sort out tonight to come back and start Practice 3 and carry on into a qualifying effort.

"It's a good platform to start from – we're P4 right now and it's encouraging for the DHL team. We've finished second here for the last two years in a row, so we're really hoping to climb one more step up that podium this weekend."

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "We made some good progress in the afternoon session. The hum by Verizon Chevy had good balance at the end of the session. This track is fun to race. It's really important to finish on a strong note."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "I have to thank Team Penske. The Hitachi car has been dialed in. When we left here last Thursday practice, we felt really confident. We try a lot of bits. I guess that paid off. So today was just a continuation of what we finished that day. It seemed to be working really well." (About Team Penske having the championship clinched): "For the 50th anniversary of Team Penske, having Roger get the championship, having the championship on the 50th anniversary is just a perfect situation for Roger. We're extremely happy, especially after last year, being so close and losing on the last one. Great recovery from the team. As far as my position, I actually talked to my two other drivers to see if they can sort it out, whatever happens, but if it can help out so we can finish 1-2-3 in the championship. That would be a phenomenal year, even that I don't have the chance to win the championship."

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "I think we made some really big gains today on track. This morning in first practice we were around second to last, and then in the final session we were in the top 10, which was a big jump forward. There were a few red flags and I realize a few people didn't get their times in, but I think everyone is struggling for grip out there whether it's the temperatures or something else. Everyone seems to have a loose car and we'll work on that tonight before qualifying tomorrow."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, 2015 GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma winner): "It's a bit of a frustrating start to the weekend here in Sonoma with the Target car. We were just kind of down on speed for some reason. We didn't get a good run on new tires in the second session either, as both times we went out the session got red-flagged. It's really critical to get your quick time on your first or second lap and we weren't able to do that today unfortunately. I think we're pretty close to the top six but we'll have to wait and find out tomorrow."

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet): "The No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet wasn't putting up the times we wanted today, but I think it looked a lot worse than it actually was. We didn't get a chance to run a second set of tires like a lot of the field, so our speed wasn't there at the end like some of the other guys. We're still just searching for grip out there, but we have a full practice day of data now to pair with our testing data and I'm sure we'll get it all figured out tonight."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH Racing Chevrolet): "It was an interesting day for the Plantronics – KVSH Racing Team. Obviously not testing here throws you behind the 8-ball, but a pretty decent recovery. It was not great this morning, but not so different from last year. We are making progress from our baseline, which was kind of questionable last year. We had a lot of unanswered questions and we are trying to get some answers. We didn't have the cleanest of sessions. The car is tough to drive, but it's not far off either. It's one of those where you just have to clean your stuff up and put the lap together and fine tune this or that. I don't think anybody has the perfect car. The asphalt is getting really rough over the years and when it is sunny like it was today track temperature goes up and grip goes down. That is always a challenge. Overall, we are in the top 10, not far off a fast six position, so hopefully we can clean things up and make it a little better."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "I think we're in a good spot. The Verizon Chevy ran well today in practice. We'll go back and look at data and work on what we can do for tomorrow in qualifying. I definitely love this track and it's challenging, but I believe we'll be fine for tomorrow."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): "I thought it was good test day despite the lap times. The conditions seem to be quite a bit different from the test. The wind direction is very different which affected the balance a lot. I think our initial set up or foundation is pretty good and we just need to get more grip out of the car and get the balance right. Today the balance shift through the lap and from new tires to used tires is quite a bit different so we're still learning a lot. We collected good data so hopefully we can put it all together for a good qualifying run tomorrow."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak 'n Shake Honda): "The Steak 'n Shake Honda was half decent in the first session, but in the second practice session we didn't get to do a new-tire run so it's very hard to say where we were going to end up had the two red flags not come out. There is a lot of work to be done tonight. We need to come up with some new concepts to change the characteristics of this car."

CONOR DALY (No. 18 Jonathan Byrd's Hospitality Honda): "It's probably been one of the most difficult Fridays that we've had on a race weekend. Obviously we had some sort of a technical issue that I started feeling early on in the (first) session and then something let go in a big way. We'll get together with Honda and see what happened and get everything sorted out. Hopefully we can just find some good direction tomorrow to finish the weekend on a high note."

RC ENERSON (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America/Trench Shoring Honda): "I think today was a pretty positive day. We still have to figure some things out with the car but we're making progress so it's all good. I think we'll have a strong car for tomorrow. We'll see where we can put the car in qualifying and see what it can do on reds. It looks like those Penske guys are pretty competitive so we'll see what we have for them."

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Samsung/Fuzzy's Vodka/ECR Chevrolet): "We definitely made good progress in the second session. There was a lot of traffic and some red flags that interfered with our new tire run so we weren't able to put a good lap in. The potential is there for us to move up quite a lot. Tomorrow will be a good day as long as we can get come clear running space on-track. The Samsung/Fuzzy's Vodka guys were doing a great job and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the weekend."

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 21 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka/ECR Chevrolet): "It was a decent day. I got through a good checklist of items. We need to do a little work but we have a handle on what we need. I'm excited to roll into tomorrow and get another practice in to test couple more theories. If we can qualify like we have the past couple of years we should be sitting pretty well for the race, then we'll work on the racecar from that point."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet, 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader): "It was really great to get back into the car. It took some of the edginess away. Today was a good start to the weekend for the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet team. We had good pace in the second session after trying a couple of different things in the morning. I'm looking forward to building on that tomorrow and get a good qualifying result."

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 hhgregg Honda): "For sure the afternoon was better than the morning. This track, it just comes down to putting everything together, including new tires for your laps. If you aren't getting it right – the second run is slower than everyone, so we will have to get it right on new tires. We have some stuff to improve for tomorrow. We'll see what happens with the weather and everything because this track is really tricky with the wind conditions. So, we will see what happens tomorrow."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Snapple Honda): "We ran up front in the morning session, but this afternoon we didn't get a chance to run on new tires so we're not sure where we ended up overall. I think we've carried over some things from the recent test here and are really focused this weekend on just learning as much as we can from the car."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "It was a positive day overall; I think we left some time on the table. We know where we have some imbalances to sort out tonight to come back and start Practice 3 and carry on into a qualifying effort. It's a good platform to start from – we're P4 right now and it's encouraging for the DHL team. We've finished second here for the last two years in a row, so we're really hoping to climb one more step up that podium this weekend."

JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): "It's been an interesting day. We got through a few bits and bobs. The track changes here a lot. We've got to try and help the back of the car as it's a little bit loose right now. We've got some work to do tonight but I think we'll be alright for tomorrow."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet): "Overall I think it was a pretty good day for the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing guys. The No. 83 car wasn't quite as good today as when we finished out the test here last week, but we worked to make it better after the morning session. We still have a little room to improve definitely. Being inside the top 10 is good, but not great. We've got to find a little bit of speed to be up front tomorrow but we absolutely have the capability of making it into the Firestone Fast Six tomorrow for qualifying."

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda): "I think so far things are going pretty well. You know, this morning we had a few issues. I think we resolved maybe 70 percent of them this afternoon, so that was positive. But still quite a bit to work on. We got to the front, which we like to see. Overall, I know it's our most positive Friday outside of an oval this year. Couldn't have come at a better time – this is the home race. There's been kind of a lot of activities leading up to this in my hometown, which has been great, but very busy. Happy to be back in a race car at a racetrack, so I don't have to think about that."

Results

Pos No Name FTime Diff Gap FL Laps FSpeed Engine
1 3 Helio Castroneves 1:16.668 0.000 0.000 6 11 111.990 Chevy
2 12 Will Power 1:16.707 0.0394 0.0394 6 13 111.932 Chevy
3 22 Simon Pagenaud 1:16.976 0.3079 0.2685 2 16 111.542 Chevy
4 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 1:17.057 0.3891 0.0812 12 12 111.424 Honda
5 98 Alexander Rossi 1:17.082 0.4139 0.0248 11 16 111.388 Honda
6 2 Juan Pablo Montoya 1:17.184 0.5158 0.1019 12 13 111.241 Chevy
7 26 Carlos Munoz 1:17.191 0.5227 0.0069 14 16 111.231 Honda
8 11 Sebastien Bourdais 1:17.197 0.5290 0.0063 18 20 111.222 Chevy
9 83 Charlie Kimball 1:17.306 0.6386 0.1096 12 19 111.065 Chevy
10 8 Max Chilton 1:17.328 0.6598 0.0212 5 18 111.034 Chevy
11 27 Marco Andretti 1:17.329 0.6608 0.0010 4 13 111.033 Honda
12 21 Josef Newgarden 1:17.332 0.6637 0.0029 11 16 111.028 Chevy
13 5 James Hinchcliffe 1:17.415 0.7472 0.0835 2 15 110.909 Honda
14 10 Tony Kanaan 1:17.426 0.7584 0.0112 7 18 110.893 Chevy
15 41 Jack Hawksworth 1:17.491 0.8232 0.0648 14 16 110.800 Honda
16 9 Scott Dixon 1:17.701 1.0331 0.2099 1 15 110.501 Chevy
17 14 Takuma Sato 1:17.723 1.0551 0.0220 19 21 110.469 Honda
18 20 Spencer Pigot 1:17.725 1.0570 0.0019 11 14 110.467 Chevy
19 19 RC Enerson 1:17.740 1.0721 0.0151 12 24 110.445 Honda
20 15 Graham Rahal 1:17.947 1.2791 0.2070 2 14 110.152 Honda
21 7 Mikhail Aleshin 1:17.966 1.2981 0.0190 18 20 110.125 Honda
22 18 Conor Daly 1:18.841 2.1734 0.8753 3 12 108.902 Honda

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