Ryan Hunter-Reay took advantage of the Firestone reds to put Andretti Autosport on top for the second NTT IndyCar Series practice session at Laguna Seca on Friday.
Hunter-Reay stopped the clocks at 1m09.9105s to edge out Ganassi’s Felix Rosenqvist by just 0.02s, leaving the morning pace-setter Colton Herta to round out the top three by the even narrower margin of 0.0012s.
Simon Pagenaud took the honors for best of the title contenders – and top Chevy – to finish up fourth-fastest, and said that the main takeaway from the afternoon was that there will be little margin for error in qualifying tomorrow.
“It looks like [the times will come] on lap two on the reds, and it looks like you only get one lap,” he said. “The tires degrade after that.”
Penske teammate and championship leader Josef Newgarden finished the afternoon in P6, one place ahead of fellow title protagonist Scott Dixon, who was responsible for the only red flag of the session when he went off and beached himself at the exit of Turn 10.
Alexander Rossi was again mired down in 23rd, but, while his backmarker status in the morning was the result of a ‘hardware problem’ – reported to be a stripped bolt – his afternoon time was the result of not setting a lap on the reds.
Elsewhere, there were encouraging signs for Foyt’s Matheus Leist, who was second-fastest on the blacks – just 0.04s off the benchmark set by Newgarden – before dropping back into the pack once the field began switching to the softer tires.