By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas — A hot and slick Texas Motor Speedway didn’t take down Colton Herta from setting a scorcher during Friday’s final practice.
The rookie’s No. 88 GESS RNG Biogas Chevrolet put up a fierce lap time of 23.3040 seconds (222.451 mph), out pacing Takuma Sato by 0.1158 seconds, and was the only driver to go past 220 mph.
Throughout the session, cars ran race trim laps and saw an early glimpse of the pack. Some drivers were able to pass their competitors, others concentrated on going for a solid starting position.
Herta said he’s pretty comfortable with his Harding Steinbrenner Racing entry, as far as being able to compete under race trim. However, it’ll be a different animal Saturday, with track conditions being a complete abstract from the afternoon session.
“I think we’re pretty good,” Herta on his race trim. “I was able to pass a few cars and I could stay right with anyone I wanted to, so I think we’re actually really fast. We’ll just have to wait and see though.”
Perhaps a big radar early in qualifying will be a different putting on Firestone rubber on the track as the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series will have their session before the NTT IndyCar Series competitors take their turn.
Herta, who will be seventh in line for qualifying, said it won’t be a concern when he hits the 1.5-mile circuit as the first six drivers should clear any of the Goodyear rubber out, and the balance of the cars could have a positive or negative outcome.
“I think from where my qualifying position is, it won’t play too much of a role because all the rubber should be cleared off after the first few guys go. It’ll be interesting to see,” said Herta. “Probably will change the balance for the first guys. Not sure if it’ll be better or worse, but it’ll change it, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Tire degradation continues to be a concern at Texas, with several drivers either struggling to adapt or just take it with a grain of salt. The 18-year-old said with a good car, it won’t produce any harm on the car.
“It does seem tire (degradation) is a pretty big thing around here. It was last year as well,” Herta explained. “If you have a good car in the race, it won’t be too much of a problem, but if you’re struggling with a problem just a little bit in the beginning of the, it’s going to get a lot worse.”
Rounding out the top-five were Alexander Rossi, two-time Texas winner Will Power and rookie Marcus Ericsson. All top-five drivers were the ones to have hit the 220-mph barrier.
Three-time defending winner of the 600-kilometer Scott Dixon was sixth fastest. Points leader Josef Newgadren on the other hand, was two spots behind Dixon.
Qualifying for the DXC Technology 600 will take place at 6:45pm EST, airing live on NBCSN. Saturday’s 248-lap race will begin at 8:00pm EST, with the green flag dropping at 8:45pm EST.