By: Tanner Watkins
May 10, 2019 | 12:30 PM
After Team Penske followed the scouting report and flexed their muscle in this morning’s first practice, Colton Herta and his Honda teammates bucked the trend in practice two.
Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s rookie prospect ripped off a lap of 1m8.0393s to top the 24-driver leaderboard in practice two. Herta was a full two-tenths of a second clear of the second-place driver in Felix Rosenqvist (1m8.2471s) and has some real momentum heading into this afternoon’s qualifications.
When interviewed by NBC’s Townsend Bell post-practice, Herta was asked if it ever gets old to put two-tenths of a second on the second-place driver in a session. The short answer from Herta? No.
“I would love to do it every time… It never gets old,” said Herta, in between a wry smile. “I am super happy with all the work that the boys have done to get the car ready. Obviously switching between speedway (trim) and (road course trim) is a lot of work and a lot of stress on everyone. (The crew) are the real stars of the show. They have put a great car together for me and I am just lucky enough to drive it.”
We mentioned that Honda flexed their muscle in the open, and boy did they ever clap back at the Chevrolet camp in practice two. In an event dominated by Team Penske drivers, the foursome of Josef Newgarden (P14), Simon Pagenaud (P15), Will Power (P16) and Helio Castroneves (P17) struggled in today’s second session – where the best lap times were set on the Firestone alternate tire.
The only Chevrolet drivers in the top ten were Ed Carpenter Racing’s pair, featuring Spencer Pigot (P3, 1m8.2663s) and Ed Jones (P10, 1m8.5350s).
A remarkable total of seven different Honda teams littered the top ten. This included Herta for Harding Steinbrenner Racing and Rosenqvist for Chip Ganassi Racing, Sebastien Bourdais for Dale Coyne Racing (P4, 1m8.2971s), Scott Dixon for Ganassi (P5, 1m8.2971s), Takuma Sato for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (1m8.4690s), Ryan Hunter-Reay as the Andretti Autosport representative (P7, 1m8.5077s), Jack Harvey for Meyer Shank Racing (P8, 1m8.5118s) and Marcus Ericsson for Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (P9, 1m8.5225s).
In total, Honda had 11 of the first 13 drivers on the timesheet while Chevrolet representatives made up 8 of the last 11 spots.
There was one red flag period in the practice as Ed Jones lost power to his No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing/Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet. The Dubai native was retrieved by the AMR Safety Team and practice resumed without much issue. The only driver to take a trip off-track was Dixon, who found his way into the grass with about four minutes remaining in the session.
One driver towards the wrong end of the grid was Castroneves, who noted post-practice that the challenges between driving IMSA sports cars and moving back to the aggressive Dallara IR-18 Indy car are apparent.
“In terms of the technical work with the car, the approaching speed is really not that different,” noted Castroneves. “However, as soon as you throw the power in – oh man – you release the beast (on the Indy car).
The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner understands how mistakes can be magnified at the World’s Greatest Race Course and that notion bears out on the leaderboard.
“This place is so tight… a tenth can put you from top-10 to top-20,” said Castroneves.
As was the case in the morning session, it was Rosenqvist who completed the most laps in this practice with a total of 23 to his name. Three drivers – Pigot, Dixon and Harvey – tied for second place behind him with 21 laps completed.
And just like that, full practice sessions for the INDYCAR Grand Prix are complete. There will be a brief, 30-minute warm-up session tomorrow afternoon ahead of the 85-lap race, but now all eyes are on qualifications later this afternoon.
Shown live on NBCSN, qualifying for the INDYCAR Grand Prix will begin at 4:30 PM Eastern. The action can also be followed via the IndyCar Radio Network at RaceControl.IndyCar.com, where you can also find timing and scoring.
Header image by John Cote/INDYCAR.
Open-Wheels coverage of the 2019 month of May at Indianapolis is presented by Driven 2 Save Lives. Driven 2 Save Lives, an entity of the Indiana Donor Network, is a program that utilizes motorsports as a platform to encourage race fans to become organ donors. Currently, there are 114,000 individuals that are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Register as an organ, tissue, and eye donor at Driven2SaveLives.org/register and follow Driven2SaveLives on Facebook and Twitter.