Former Iowa Speedway race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay lead an Andretti Autosport 1-2-3-4 during a test on Wednesday that featured more than half the Verizon IndyCar Series field.
Unofficial lap times had Hunter-Reay fastest (17.72s) around the 0.875-mile oval with teammates Alexander Rossi (17.75s), Marco Andretti (17.77s), and Zach Veach (17.80s) atop the group with their Honda-powered cars. Behind them, Team Penske Chevy followed close behind with Josef Newgarden in fifth (17.84s), Will Power in sixth (17.86s) and Simon Pagenaud (17.91s) in seventh.
For Veach, the quickest rookie in the lead group, lending a fresh perspective to driving an Indy car in 2018 low-downforce specification around Iowa generated familiar feedback heard at other ovals this season.
“It was the same kind of story: the second lane will be important to get rubbered in, but we’ll see if that happens,” he told RACER. “With the downforce levels we’re at, it was very light on the front end.”
Having finished second at the 2016 Indy Lights race in Iowa, stepping up to the top series and getting a feel for the aerodynamic turbulence and tire conservation needs was a big part of Veach’s data gathering on Wednesday.
“We all went out with the Penskes as well to run in a big group to see how our cars reacted,” he added. “It’s going to be another case of good cars making the difference like we saw at Texas because there’s a lot of lifting, and most of all, managing tires will make the difference.”
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Honda duo of James Hinchcliffe (17.99s) and Robert Wickens (18.10s) were next in eighth and ninth and Ed Carpenter completed the top 10 (18.19s) with his Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy.
Completing the testing group, Harding Racing’s Gabby Chaves (18.39s) was 11th with his Chevy and had ECR’s Spencer Pigot close behind (18.40s). A.J. Foyt Racing’s Matheus Leist was the final runner (18.71s) for Chevy.
Veach was pleased with Andretti Autosport’s pace at the test, and he’ll use the week leading up to the July 8 race to form a game plan.
“It was a good test for us speed wise, but I’m still trying to get my head wrapped around a short oval in an IndyCar,” he said. “It’s so easy to push too hard and hurt your tires, and once you’re in trouble there, it’s hard to recover. You’re almost never pointed straight, so getting clean air, however much that’s possible, is really going to help. I think this is going to be another big challenge for everyone on an oval.”