By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Friday practice has concluded for the INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Glen, the penultimate Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and Honda came up with the fastest times of the day in both sessions.
In the opening practice session, Honda had the top five cars as Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Graham Rahal went fastest with a lap of 1:23.2603 seconds, averaging 145.712 mph around the 3.37 mile natural terrain road course. Second fastest was Andretti Herta Autosport’s Alexander Rossi ahead of the Chip Ganassi Racing duo of Max Chilton and Scott Dixon while Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’s James Hinchcliffe was fifth fastest.
Behind the Honda quintet was the Chevrolet of Spencer Pigot, the Ed Carpenter Racing driver being only half a second slower than Rahal. Meanwhile, championship leader Josef Newgarden was only ninth fastest and was the leader of a Team Penske trio as Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves were 10th and 11th, respectively.
In the second session, Dixon was the fastest driver with a fastest lap of 1:22.6187, averaging 146.843 mph. Behind Dixon was Team Penske’s Will Power, only nine hundredths of a second off the New Zealander’s pace.
Rahal was third ahead of Pagenaud and Rossi while Castroneves was sixth.
The only major incident of the day was Max Chilton in the second session. Coming through Turn 5, Chilton’s car got loose in the last half of the inner loop and swapped ends, hitting the outside guard rail with the right front.
In the combined results, five drivers set their fastest laps in the first practice session out of 21 drivers. Max Chilton, James Hinchcliffe, Spencer Pigot, Marco Andretti and Ed Jones were 10th, 13th, 16th, 17th and 20th respectively.
Away from the track surface, a couple of pieces to the silly season puzzle came into focus. Andretti Autosport announced on Thursday that they will remain with Honda power and as such, Alexander Rossi and NAPA both confirmed that they will remain with the team in a multiple year agreement. NAPA will sponsor Rossi for ten races in 2018.