By David Morgan, Associate Editor
LONG BEACH, Calif. – For Colton Herta, it’s déjà vu all over again.
In a repeat of Friday’s first practice, Herta was fast again during the second practice of the weekend for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, topping the board with a scorching lap of one minute, 7.978 seconds.
“We tried to find that happy medium between drivability and comfort and it looks like we’re pretty close,” Herta said. “We feel really good. I think there’s still some work to do to make the car a little bit better, but right when we rolled off the truck, I felt confident. Right in first practice, the grip level was there and I was able to attack early. The cars have been amazing on street courses this year and this just reiterates it.”
Though he was the man to beat for a second day in a row, practice didn’t come without issue as he got into the wall during the session, forcing him to head down pit road for the team to inspect the left front of his No. 26 Gainbridge Honda. After taking at look at his machine, Herta returned to the track and put down his flying lap – the fastest of the weekend.
Will Power finished the 45-minute practice session in second, timing in 0.149 seconds in arears of Herta’s lap. James Hinchcliffe was third, followed by championship contender Josef Newgarden in fourth, and Simon Pagenaud rounding out the top-five.
Rookie Scott McLaughlin timed in sixth to give Team Penske four cars in the top-six, with the Arrow McLaren SP duo of Felix Rosenqvist and Pato O’Ward seventh and eighth. Romain Grosjean would come home in ninth, despite some brushes with the wall during the session, and in his final run with Meyer Shank Racing, Jack Harvey closed out the top-10 fastest in practice.
Championship points leader Alex Palou had his hands full with traffic during the session, finishing the final practice session before qualifying in 16th – a far cry from his third-place practice run a day earlier.
Along with Herta and Grosjean, and number of other drivers had trouble during practice, with a few off-track excursions and wall scrapes, but the biggest impact came late in the session when Scott Dixon wound up in the tire barrier in the closing minutes, bringing out the red flag and ending the session.
Drivers and teams will have a couple of hours to get their cars dialed in for qualifying before setting the field for Sunday’s NTT IndyCar Series season finale at 12:05 pm Pacific on NBC Sports Network.