Herta leads eventful second Toronto practice

Gavin Baker / Lumen

Herta leads eventful second Toronto practice


Herta leads eventful second Toronto practice


The second practice session for Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto was a punishing affair starting with Josef Newgarden, who climbed from his Team Penske Chevy after turning a single lap when a low oil pressure alarm popped up on his steering wheel. The disappointment was followed by Alex Palou’s hard crash after seven laps of running in his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda and Romain Grosjean was next, hammering the wall with his Andretti Autosport Honda after 12 laps.

The trio, all potential contenders for pole position, lost valuable time to prepare for qualifying as a result of their misfortunes, and it was bookended by Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing’s Takuma Sato who battered the wall with the checkered flag moments away from being waved.

Between the crashes and dramas, Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta led the second consecutive session for the team with the 1m00.0471 lap he delivered with the No. 26 Honda. CGR’s Marcus Ericsson was second with a 1m00.2082s in the No. 8 Honda and Penske’s Will Power pushed the No. 12 Chevy to third with his 1m00.3322s lap as the field performed simulated qualifying runs late in the outing on new Firestone primary tires.

“We rolled off the trucks really good,” Herta said. “We feel really confident going into qualifying. We have a nice little gap to the field.”

Ericsson was equally pleased.

“It was good,” he said. “Did some work last night to find a bit more feeling I was looking for. We’re definitely where we want to be.”

Of those who were left searching for more speed, Alexander Rossi — Friday’s fastest driver — was 0.6453s adrift in 10th, and while Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward did improve from 20th in the opening practice session to 12th in the second, the 0.7103s gap to Herta is significant.

Despite the scheduled 10am ET start time for the session, NTT IndyCar Series drivers sat in their cars on pit lane for 34 minutes Saturday morning as repairs to the Toronto street circuit were made following a big crash in Turn 3 in the preceding Porsche Cup session.

Once the field started rolling in the 45-minute session, Herta posted the first representative lap with a 1m02.1109s. Nine minutes into the session, Palou told the team “I crashed” after clipping the right-front corner against the Turn 2 wall, which shot the No. 10 car to the other side of the track and slammed the left-front and left-rear corners against the outer wall. The CGR driver limped back to pit lane, which kept the session green.

David Malukas was the next driver to make a statement after going first with a lap of 1m00.6834s and Grosjean moved to second after 15 minutes with a 1m00.9964s lap. A few minutes later he slammed the right side of the car against the Turn 11 exit wall which collapsed his right-rear suspension and brought out the first red flag with 26 minutes remaining.

Teammate Herta had taken over the top spot just as the track went red, and when the session resumed, his 1m00.4871s was the new standard to beat. New-tire runs were the order of business from here on out.

Graham Rahal, quick on Friday, repeated the feat as he climbed to second with a 1m00.5321s lap behind Herta, and Scott Dixon made an improvement to 1m00.5282s to push Rahal back to third as the clock wound down to 15 minutes left to go.

Dixon’s next laps displaced Herta for the lead with a lap of 1m00.4547s and as the session reached seven minutes to run, Scott McLaughlin motored to first with a 1m00.3389s. Ericsson was the next mover as his 1m00.3978s lap was good enough for second and improved to first on the following lap with a 1m00.2082s tour.

Herta took charge at the two-minute mark with a 1m00.0471 as Power jumped up to third with a 1m00.3322s lap when Sato brought out a red flag with 51 seconds remining when he pummeled the Turn 6 wall with the left side of his car and broke his suspension.

UP NEXT: Qualifying, 2 p.m. ET on Peacock