There are only 29 points separating Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings with three races remaining, and there was even less space between them during Friday night’s final practice period for Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500.
Rossi, who is going for his third consecutive victory for Michael Andretti’s team, posted a lap of 183.060mph (24.582 seconds) in the Andretti Autosport NAPA Honda — just a fraction faster than Dixon’s best of 183.022mph (24.587) in the PNC Honda during the 90-minute session that replaced qualifying (due to rain).
Because of entrant points, Dixon and Rossi will start the final oval-track race of the year from the front row.
In a hot-lap group dominated by Honda-powered teams, rookie Pietro Fittipaldi threw down a monster lap of 182.294mph in Dale Coyne’s car and Ed Jones was close behind at 182.268mph in the Chip Ganassi NTT Data Honda. Rookie Zach Veach continued to impress and turned in the fifth-fastest lap of 182.250mph.
“The car has a lot of performance,” Fittipaldi said. “FP1 was a little crazy, dry, wet conditions but Sebastien showed the car was very strong. The whole Dale Coyne Racing team has given us a very good car, and obviously we were quick again in FP2.
“It’s disappointing that I’ll have to start from the back tomorrow since qualifying was canceled but I know we have a strong car and we’ll do our best tomorrow.”
Tony Kanaan, in AJ Foyt’s ABC Supply Special, was the quickest of the Chevys in both sessions, finishing the night practice at 181.773mph and seventh overall.
Defending race winner Josef Newgarden brushed the wall just past the halfway mark of the session, and while the Team Penske crew worked on the right rear of the car, his session ended after 61 laps and a 12th-best time of 180.584mph.
“Made a mistake there, we’re not 100 percent sure what’s wrong but something’s still wrong with the right rear,” he said. “Tried to change a toe link and it’s still not perfect. Just don’t have enough time.”
UP NEXT: The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 pre-race starts at 8 p.m. ET with the green flag scheduled for 8:40 p.m.