By: Tanner Watkins
April 5, 2019 | 4:00 PM
After dealing with flu-like conditions throughout the early part of this week, James Hinchcliffe is rebounding nicely after leading the final Friday practice session ahead of Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
The Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver was quickest out of the 24 entires that took to the track for this afternoon’s 45-minute practice, posting the only sub-79 second lap of the day. Hinch’s lap of 1m8.9994s was just a hair quicker than second place runner Colton Herta (1m9.0084s) and third place Santino Ferrucci (1m9.0461s).
With this session seeing only one red flag (for the rookie Ferrucci at Turn 16) opposed to the three stoppages from this morning, drivers had the chance to evaluate their cars a bit better – as well as the tire Firestone has brought to the 2019 event at Barber Motorsports Park.
Interestingly enough, a handful of drivers have reported that the alternate red-sidewall tire isn’t quite the pace-setter as many had hoped.
Colton Herta called the tires “diabolical” when asked about the balance of grip levels, and Zach Veach noted that few (if any) drivers were able to set their fastest time on the alternate compound. That will be a storyline to follow into tomorrow’s practice and qualifying session.
Veach, in particular, had the most entertaining practice out of the 24 entries. On multiple occassions the NBC Sports crew caught Veach taking paths less traveled with some rough off-track excursions. The second-year Andretti Autosport driver noted after practice that last year was his year to play it safe – 2019 is where he plans to push the boundaries and find a breakthrough.
Veach was 12th-quickest on the afternoon with a best lap of 1m9.4320s.
And while practice sessions shouldn’t bring too much cause for concern, Team Penske hasn’t quite been their typical selves at Barber this weekend and that continued during second practice.
Will Power was the quickest Penske driver in 12th (1m9.4166s) while former race winners Simon Pagenaud (P15, 1m9.5546s) and Josef Newgarden (P18, 1m9.6309s) were both outside the top 12
Just like in the morning session, Honda dominated the time charts as they blocked out the first six spots. The fastest Chevrolet driver was actually Spencer Pigot, driving the No. 21 machine for Ed Carpenter Racing with a best lap at 1m9.2055s.
All but one driver – Felix Rosenqvist – was able to set their fastest time of the day in the second session. Coincidentally, it was Rosenqvist and his fellow rookie class member Patricio O’Ward who completed the most laps today with 31.
Third and final practice for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will roll off Saturday with an 11:45 a.m. Eastern start time. The 24 drivers will then wait for qualifications on Saturday afternoon, going green at approximately 4:00 p.m. Eastern on NBCSN.
Header image by Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR.