Colton Herta led the way among a pace-setting group that was closely matched even by IndyCar standards in second practice for Sunday’s Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The order was settled a little earlier than expected when Team Penske’s Will Power — who ended up closest to the Andretti Autosport driver’s fast time of 1m07.275s, just 0.0339s back — was forced to stop on course with a mechanical issue. That triggered a red flag which ended the 45-minute session a minute and a half early and thwarted the possibility of a few late flyers, but the prospects for a wide-open qualifying shootout this afternoon was clear, as the top six drivers were separated by just 0.17s.
Friday fast man Josef Newgarden ranked third, 0.0339s behind, with Dale Coyne Racing with HMS David Malukas fourth, 0.073s off the fast time in another in another impressive showing for the rookie.
“It feels very good. The track changed a lot and a few of the changes we made might have been a little too aggressive but I was pretty happy,“ Malukas told NBC Sports
The 45-minute session started on a track rendered very green by overnight rain that made for a wild opening stint, with numerous drivers enduring off-course excursions, albeit with no major consequences.
Devlin De Francesco triggered a red flag just three minutes in by sliding off course at the Keyhole and clouting the tire barrier, causing minor damage to the Andretti Autosport No. 29’s front wing. He was one of four drivers to go off there in the opening 10 minutes, including Malukas, just after the rookie had moved to the top of the early times. Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, Penske’s trio of Scott McLaughlin, Newgarden and Power, along with Andretti’s Alexander Rossi and Romain Grosjean, and Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay all took turns atop the times utilizing the primary black tires.
The Dutchman’s mid-session best of 1m07.1965 held up for much of the session before Dalton Kellett triggered the second red flag of the session with 13 minutes left via an overshot into the tire barriers at Turn 12, with minor front-end damage to the No. 4 AJ Foyt Racing entry. By that time, Newgarden had cycled down to 20th in the order, Friday’s pace-setter having to abort a couple of late flying laps due to traffic — an issue for many on the busy 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course. However, Newgarden regained the top spot on his first flyer following the red, posting a 1m07.0614s with just under four minutes to go.
Power and Herta then supplanted that in quick succession before the No. 12 Verizon Chevy driver was afflicted by a suspected sticking throttle and had to shut off his engine, triggering the red flag that effectively ended the session.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou (+1246s), VeeKay (+1690s) completed the top six, with O’Ward, McLaughlin, Scott Dixon and Rossi completing the top 10,
UP NEXT: Qualifying, 2:45pm ET, Peacock