Rising temperatures and disappearing track surface grip at Circuit of The Americas made IndyCar’s second practice session an adventurous experience for most drivers.
Everything from broadslides to drifting to flying off the track into the paved runoff areas became the accepted norm as teams did their best to find chassis setups that would allow the field to produce speed and stay on the racing line.
Sampling Firestone’s faster red ‘alternate’ tires, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist shot to the top of the running order with a 1m47.61s in the No. 10 Honda before being demoted by the Team Penske Verizon Chevy of Will Power (1m47.44s) in the late going.
Behind the Swedish rookie, Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi went third fastest (1m47.93s) in his No. 27 Honda, and was backed up by teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay (1m48.12s) in the No. 28, while Ed Jones showed no ill effects of his recently broken finger in rounding out the top five at 1m48.16s in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Chevy.
Pato O’Ward, made the most of his first day back in an IndyCar cockpit with Carlin, turning in the most laps (10) of anyone in the morning and logging another 13 this afternoon, with his fastest holding up for 11th in the 24-car field.
Colton Herta, having suffered an engine failure at the end of FP1, was unable to take part in FP2 due to the limited time between sessions for the engine change to be completed, but returned for pit stop practice that followed the session.
Simon Pagenaud and Herta duly led the way in the additional 30-minute practice period, which also served as pit stop practice.
Pagenaud went 1m48.384s on used black tires in his Menard’s Chevy, about a second off of Penske teammate Power’s quick time from Friday’s earlier runs, while Herta turned 1m48.435s in his Harding Steinbrenner Honda on red tires.
“I didn’t make the best of our reds — got some traffic with everyone coming in and out of the pits — but we learned some things and it was important we got out,” said the 18-year-old second generation driver.
UP NEXT: FP3, 10 a.m. C.T.