Colton Herta made best use of the Firestone reds to go fastest in the second IndyCar practice session on the IMS road course on Friday.
Herta best of 1m08.0393s was more than 0.2s quicker than closest rival Felix Rosenqvist, but the margins behind the Swede were considerably smaller. ECR’s Spencer Pigot, who’d been second-fastest in the morning, was just a couple of tenths off Rosenqvist’s time to finish the session in P3, while Scott Dixon and Takuma Sato set identical times to round out the top five.
“The degradation is not too bad,” Herta said of the reds. “I did [the time] on my second lap, which sometimes you can get away with; usually not. But I found 0.4s on my second lap, and Felix did as well. So it might be a bit of a trend.”
Ed Jones triggered the only red flag when his No. 20 car stopped in the opening minutes, but he rebounded to finish the afternoon as the only Chevy-powered car other than Pigot in the top 10.
So where were the Penskes? Mostly in a little clump further back, where Josef Newgarden headed Simon Pagenaud and Will Power for a Penske 14-15-16, and Helio Castroneves slipped in ahead of Max Chilton to go 18th fastest.
While Penske’s past record on the road course suggests that the picture might look quite different at the end of qualifying, it was clear that a few other drivers and engineers have some work to do over the next couple of hours. Graham Rahal spent at least part of the session battling snap oversteer and ultimately had to settle for 13th fastest, although a sixth-best for teammate Takuma Sato was encouraging for the RLL crew. Meanwhile, Marco Andretti made an early switch to reds after struggling to find a balance on the harder compound, and but still couldn’t climb higher than P20.
UP NEXT: Qualifying, 4:30pm ET