While morning practice before qualifying normally doesn’t have much bearing on race results, the hometown crowd at Mid-Ohio was pleased to see Ohio native Graham Rahal at the top of the timesheets in Honda Indy 200 final practice.
Rahal cranked off a lap of 1m5.2067s that edged out a pair of Team Penske teammates in Josef Newgarden (1m5.2470s) and Will Power (1m5.3367s).
Championship contenders Alexander Rossi (P4, 1m5.3865s) and Scott Dixon (P5, 1m5.4553s) were close behind them while Simon Pagenaud rounded out the session’s “Fast Six” with a time of 1m5.4571s.
Despite nearly cracking the top five this morning, the weekend has been far from uneventful for Pagenaud. The French driver nearly had a run-in with Power yesterday (that caused a multi-car red flag period) and then made contact with the tire barrier this morning in his own off-track excursion.
Aside from some damage to the left front suspension and a necessary front wing replacement, Pagenaud’s No. 22 Menard’s Chevrolet should be no worse for the wear as teams prepare for qualifying this afternoon.
A few others had moments in the session as Pietro Fittipaldi, Matheus Leist and Spencer Pigot all stalled their machines and required assistance from the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team.
Leist was the only driver in the rookie trio to make contact with the wall as his No. 4 ABC Supply machine smacked the concrete with the car’s right side.
Sebastien Bourdais remains quick this weekend as he was 7th-quickest in this session (1m5.4805s), while Robert Wickens (P8, 1m5.6688s), Takuma Sato (P9, 1m5.6855s) and Zach Veach (P10, 1m5.8292) rounded out the top ten.
Also notable were the runs by Max Chilton (P12, 1m5.8626s) and Charlie Kimball (P16, 1m6.1048) as Carlin continues to work hard on improvement to close out the year. Conor Daly also had a respectable run for Harding Racing as he slotted in at 15th-fastest (1m6.0712s).
On the combined timesheets, Ryan Hunter-Reay’s lap of 1m5.1950s from yesterday’s afternoon practice remains the quickest lap of the weekend. In total, 989 laps of practice have been completed over the three sessions thus far.
Action will resume at 1:30 p.m. Eastern as all 24 drivers will hit the track for Verizon P1 Award qualifying. The session will be shown live on NBCSN for the first time this season, while timing and scoring can be found at RaceControl.IndyCar.com.