By: Tanner Watkins
February 13, 2019 | 5:30 PM
Session Three Results | Session Four Results (TBA) Combined Results (TBA)
While the week didn’t start so well for Harding Steinbrenner Racing, the Indianapolis-based team did more than enough over the last two days to prove they are ready to fight in 2019 with rookie Colton Herta.
The 2018 Indy Lights runner-up topped the time charts in combined practice speeds for both days of the NTT IndyCar Series open test at Circuit of the Americas on Tuesday and Wednesday. A recap of Tuesday’s festivities can be found here.
For Wednesday morning’s two-hour session it was Herta, 18, who led series veterans Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon with a lap of 1m46.640s (115.116 mph). The California native turned only 11 laps in the A.M. session but made the most of his time on-track.
Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, part-time Meyer Shank Racing driver Jack Harvey, Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay, Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Felix Rosenqvist, veteran Dale Coyne Racing driver Sebastien Bourdais and Carlin rookie RC Enerson rounded out a very diverse top-10.
Of those top ten drivers, only Pagenaud, Newgarden and Enerson were Chevrolet representatives out of a crowd of Honda drivers. Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Will Power were just outside the top-10 in 11th and 12th, respectively.
Despite coming in last on the timing chart, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato turned the most laps in the morning with 27 circuits completed. In the morning, each of the 25 drivers on-hand posted times with a total of 453 laps turned.
The afternoon brought warmer track temperatures and more excitement over the course of three hours. Many teams elected for longer runs and in turn, more laps were completed.
One constant remained though as once again it was a Honda driver pacing the field. Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi has hit the ground running as efforts towards his first IndyCar championship are showing positive returns. The California native was the only driver on the day to post a lap time under 1 minute 47 seconds (1m46.8535s to be exact).
Herta once again was strong on the afternoon, leading the session for much of the three hours before coming home second overall with a lap at 1m47.0001s. The top six was filled with Honda drivers as Ryan Hunter-Reay (P3, 1m47.175s), Felix Rosenqvist (P4, 1m47.294s), Graham Rahal (P5, 1m47.366s) and Scott Dixon (P6, 1m47.368s) were all strong for the Japanese brand.
The first three Chevrolet drivers on the time charts were all Team Penske drivers as Simon Pagenaud was 7th-quick (1m47.469s), Josef Newgarden 10th at 1m47.662s and Will Power 11th with a best time of 1m47.666s.
While Honda supplied engines to the ten of the first 13 drivers, that group was separated by less than a second while the entire 25-car field was distanced by just under two seconds in the afternoon practice.
Josef Newgarden turned a remarkable 56 laps in the session, leading all drivers. Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie Marcus Ericsson was next in line with 49 laps completed while his teammate James Hinchcliffe turned 46 laps.
This week’s test at Circuit of the Americas is the last open test the series will conduct until late April at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The field of full time participants plus entries to the 103rd Indianapolis 500 have been invited to take part in a one-day test at the Speedway on April 24.
Private team testing will occur in warmer parts of the country through the end of this month before the NTT IndyCar Series kicks off its season with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, March 8-10.
Header image by Shawn Gritzmacher/INDYCAR.