All eyes are on Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing when the NTT IndyCar Series rolls into Lexington, Ohio. Dixon has won five times on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and Chip has ten wins here as a team owner. Today though, it was a pair of Rookies that shined brightest around the 2.258-mile course. Colton Herta was fastest on Friday, as the Harding Steinbrenner driver put down a 65.7292 second lap. Team Penske drivers Simon Pagenaud and Will Power were just behind him, and Rookie Felix Rosenqvist was fourth quick on the day.
Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top five in Friday’s practice. James Hinchcliffe has been on a nice wave of momentum the past three races, and was fast again today. Dixon was 7th fastest overall on Friday, which came in the opening session. In what was quite the surprise, Matheus Leist was 8th overall for AJ Foyt Racing.
Friday Combined Practice Results
Andretti Autosport seemed to struggle a bit on Friday, outside of Hunter-Reay. Championship contender and defending Mid-Ohio winner Alexander Rossi was 14th overall, with Zach Veach just behind him, and Marco Andretti 22nd out of the 23 cars on track. The team will have some big news tomorrow before qualifying, as Rossi’s future will likely be finalized.
While his two teammates were inside the top three, it was a bad day for championship points leader Josef Newgarden. The American went wide during the afternoon session, and backed his Penske Chevrolet into the outside wall, suffering minor rear-end damage. While his first five races here were a nightmare, Newgarden’s two races here with Penske have been very good. He led 73 laps and won from the front row two years ago, and finished 4th last year.
RC Enerson is making his return to the series this weekend, driving the No. 31 car for Carlin. There were some issues between he and Herta and Kanaan, but the drivers were able to sort it out themselves off the track. Enerson was fast during spring training at COTA, and was solid today as well, finishing 16th fastest overall.
The RLL Racing team struggled in both sessions on Friday, as Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal were 20th and 23rd respectively. The team tried a few different things today that obviously didn’t pan out the way they had hoped, but look for them to definitely have things turned around by the time qualifications begin on Saturday.
There will be one final 45-minute practice session tomorrow morning at 10:30 ET, followed by qualifying for the Honda Indy 200, which begins at 2:30 PM. NBC Sports Network will provide live coverage of qualifications.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar
COLTON HERTA: “We had a great end to the first day of practice at Mid-Ohio for the Honda 200. The No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda was so quick in Practice 2, so being able to finish quickest of the day feels great. Hopefully, we can keep that pace for qualifying tomorrow. The No. 88 boys continue to work so hard, so I’m hoping we can get that great result this weekend.”
SIMON PAGENAUD: “Great first day here at Mid-Ohio for the Menards Chevrolet team. Today was hopefully a good snapshot of how the car is going to be in qualifying tomorrow. We feel competitive and confident, whether we are running on Firestone black tires or the reds (alternate tires), so we are in good shape. We’ll go back and look at all the little details tonight, so we are fully prepared for another good day tomorrow.”
WILL POWER: “The Verizon Chevy is definitely getting there. We made some improvements from the morning session to where we wound up in the afternoon. We are still doing better on the (Firestone) black tires than we are on the reds (Firestone alternate tires), so we’ll keep working on that. We are headed in the right direction for qualifying tomorrow, and hopefully, we can earn a good starting spot for Sunday’s race.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST: “This is one of the few tracks I’ve been on in an Indy car before. After testing Scott’s (Dixon) car with the team twice here, it’s a different mindset in that you have an idea of what to expect. I think we had a good start in the Clover car. It was a good day and we’re making progress with the car, for sure. We just need to really focus on what the alternate tires are going to do tomorrow, as I think that will play a big role.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “I think it was a somewhat productive first day. It went by pretty quickly due to the limited amount of laps we wanted to put on these tires – we wanted to save them for qualifying tomorrow. All-in-all, I think we’re in the top five to seven right now. We need to make some big gains in the car tonight. We’re not going to be on pole with the current balance and qualifying is very important here, so we need to put our heads down and make some of the right setup changes tonight.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: “Solid first day for us in the No. 5 Arrow car. We rolled off the truck pretty strong, which we were hoping to do after a strong showing here last year. The setup seems to have carried over pretty well. Obviously, the times are super close, a tenth (of a second) puts you into P2 this afternoon. We don’t need big changes, we just need to kind of tune it and put it all together over a lap and see where we shake out tomorrow. This is definitely a track position kind of race and qualifying is going to be very important, so that’s the focus overnight.”
SCOTT DIXON: “I think we need to do better than we’ve done here lately in terms of results. We need to get back to our winning ways. We’ve had success at Mid-Ohio as a team, as well as me personally, but that isn’t good enough right now. The track really evolves here and you really need to keep up with changes to understand what you need here to go fast. I think we made some gains here from last year and hope we get to continue to show that this weekend after a fast start in the PNC Bank car this morning. The second session wasn’t terrible. I spun early in one run and then the red (flag) came out when we were on our run on the alternate tires, so we didn’t get to post a time that reflected what we have.”
MATHEUS LEIST: “Overall, I think it was a good day here in Mid-Ohio. The first practice was decent. We did a pretty good setup when we came here to test for the Chevy day. We didn’t quite change the car for the afternoon because we knew the car was decent, so we just worked on the basics. Finishing the day in P7 was overall a pretty good day. The car is feeling good. It’s a tough track, everybody is so close to each other. Two-tenths from seventh, you can be either third or you can be 15th. It’s just so close. We just have to focus on tomorrow’s qualifying.”
SPENCER PIGOT: “We made good gains with the Autogeek Chevrolet and it’s in a good spot. It’s a shame not to have been able to get a run in on the red (Firestone alternate) tires with that red flag coming out, but we have a good baseline for tomorrow. We’ll make a few more adjustments in the morning session, then be ready to go for qualifying.”
JACK HARVEY: “It’s the home race for Mike (Shank) and Mid-Ohio has been good to me in the past, but we are trying to execute a normal race weekend. We had a really positive day today and in the past when we have this kind of day, we continue to improve throughout the weekend. We found some areas that we wanted to work on after the first practice and once we changed those things, we were able to leapfrog up a couple of positions in Practice 2. This series is so competitive that it doesn’t matter how good you feel on Friday – it could completely flip on its head. I want to do a solid job for the entire Meyer Shank Racing team, as well as for our AutoNation and SiriusXM partners. It has been a great day and I hope we keep this momentum going.”
MARCO ANDRETTI: “It was a horrible day, to be honest. We were jumping all over the place with setups trying to find something we liked and then the red flag came out at the end there, so we didn’t get a lap on the reds (Firestone alternate tires) that we were looking for, so we really don’t know where we stand. We’ll put our heads together tonight, and hopefully, redeem ourselves tomorrow before qualifying.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: “The SealMaster Honda No. 18 is very anchored. We’re pretty happy with the balance. There is still a little gain to make, but the car is good. We were three or four tenths off Will (Power) on blacks (Firestone primary tires) and right up there on reds (Firestone alternate tires). I lost a lap because of the red flag, but overall, pretty happy. We’ll see what we have tomorrow. Honestly, I was dreading a little bit about this weekend after such a strong performance last year in the race. It wasn’t completely fair because we had three sets of brand new red tires, and clearly, they were the better tire in the conditions on race day. So, I feel good about the fact that we found some performance today.”
MAX CHILTON: “It was a solid day in Mid-Ohio today and I believe that we have top-10 pace in the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet. We showed it this morning with a 10th and again this afternoon, but unfortunately, we didn’t get a time on the reds (Firestone alternate tires) with that late red flag. We had a one-lap wonder at the end of that second practice where we were third-fastest overall and it was my fastest lap of the session with sort of stone-cold tires. I think we definitely have the potential to get another good qualifying result for the team similar to last year’s.”
RC ENERSON: “It’s my first time back with Carlin since Spring Training (February 2019) and my first INDYCAR race this season here at Mid-Ohio this weekend. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in a car, so both practice sessions were really just about taking baby steps back to getting comfortable with the No. 31 Lucas Oil School Carlin Chevrolet. The second practice session was even better than the first, and we were able to finally throw the reds (Firestone alternate tires) on and see the grip level there. I haven’t been on red tires in a very, very long time, so it was a bit of a surprise. We’re still working forward and every lap I’m starting to feel more and more comfortable in the car, so I think we’re making big steps forward already.”
MARCUS ERICSSON: “Like always, another new track for me to learn. I really like Mid-Ohio, it has a proper old school feel to it. Nice sweeping corners, a lot of elevation changes, so it’s definitely a driver’s type of track. It was fun to learn that. I think the day has been pretty good. We had quite a good first session getting used to the track; I think the Arrow SPM team rolled out with a good car straightaway. We fine-tuned for Practice 2, trying to get more laps in. I think we took some steps in the right direction. Still a bit more to find, but we’re making progress, and hopefully tomorrow, if we put everything together, we can be right up there.”
SANTINO FERRUCCI: “In the first practice session this morning, I was still learning the track a little bit aboard the Indy car, as it’s completely different from what I’ve raced here in the past, and I struggled a lot with the car. Then going into the second session this afternoon, we changed a lot on our No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda. Everything felt a lot better. On the black (Firestone primary) tire run, we got caught up in traffic, and then when we put on the red Firestone (alternate) tires, the red flag came out. Unfortunately, we were not really able to show our pace because of that, but we know we have it. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
ED JONES: “We weren’t able to get a good lap in on the red (Firestone alternate) tires, so the results don’t show the true speed of the car. We definitely need to make some improvements heading into tomorrow, but we have a good idea on what we need to do, so I am feeling confident.”
TONY KANAAN: “We tried a different direction than the No. 4 (teammate Matheus Leist), and obviously, I think they found a better way. So, that’s we planned to do this weekend, to try to find something that works, so now we’re going to what they have and be up there with them.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: “Unfortunately, I just got loose and went off track late in the afternoon session today. Thankfully, the damage isn’t too bad and the PPG Team Penske guys are the best, so they’ll get everything fixed up for tomorrow. We were just a little off with the car in the second practice, so we will get that fixed as well and be ready to go with the PPG Chevy on Saturday.”
GRAHAM RAHAL: “We tried a lot today and made a big swing in the second session after struggling in Practice 1. Everyone puts a lot into this program, so I know it’s not a lack of effort, but we’re not in the ballpark right now. We still have tomorrow to figure it out so we’re going to dig in and come back out here fighting tomorrow.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI: “Obviously, we’re not where we’d like to be at the end of the day. We tried a few different things, so we know what doesn’t work, but we need to find what does. We were hoping to get a good run in just before the red flag came out, so we can’t really gauge how we ended, we just know we need to work overnight to figure out what it is we’re missing. Luckily, Ryan (Hunter-Reay, teammate) found something that was a little beneficial, so hopefully, we can take that and build off of it.”
TAKUMA SATO: “It was a little bit of a tough day. The session was interrupted by a red lap and we never got a timed lap with the red (Firestone alternate) tire, which was a shame, and I believe a lot of people are in the same boat. However, we are still on the bottom of the timesheets, so we need to find the speed. Last year, we came back quite strong in Practice 3, so hopefully, overnight we will analyze and come back better tomorrow. We are struggling with a little bit of everything. Struggling on rotation, snap oversteer and the stability on power.”
ZACH VEACH: “Trying to get the car right has been the biggest struggle of today. We made good progress from 20th to 14th in Practice 2, so hopefully, we can do the same tomorrow in Practice 3 and be where we need to contend for the (Firestone) Fast Six like we did last year. We just need some help in some places and I think we’ll be well on our way to do that.”