By David Morgan, Associate Editor
NASHVILLE – Team Penske came out on Saturday in Nashville with its game face on, leading the way in the second practice of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix weekend.
Scott McLaughlin improved on his top-10 speed in first practice to jump to the top of the board in his No. 2 Chevrolet with a lap of one minute, 15.461 seconds, which would not be surpassed for the remainder of the session.
“It’s so hot,” McLaughlin said of practicing in the steamy Nashville weather. “It’s about as hot as the DEX Imaging Chevy right now. The car feels really nice. Feeling really good. Very hot out there, but we train hard for this. It’s humid. That’s probably the hardest thing for us right now as drivers, but I feel really good.
“The DEX car feels really good. Loving the track, just got to try and convert it in qualifying and who knows what the weather is going to do.
McLaughlin added that the team has had a good car right out of the gate and the team has had to make minimal changes to get him dialed in.
“We hardly changed it. We took a little bit of front wing out and just focused on what I could do. I feel really comfortable, but this is IndyCar, anything can happen. You can be in a really sweet spot and things can change. We found that out last round. Head down, bum up and just focused on qualifying now.”
Fellow Penske drivers Josef Newgarden and Will Power would end the session in second and third, respectively, followed by Alexander Rossi and Kyle Kirkwood to round out the top-five.
Kirkwood made a fantastic save during the waning minutes of practice when his No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet kicked sideways off of Turn 11, but he was able to keep it off the wall.
Felix Rosenqvist was sixth-quickest, with Romain Grosjean in seventh and Colton Herta in eighth. Christian Lundgaard, who led the way in Friday’s opening practice session, finished second practice in ninth and fellow rookie David Malukas finished in 10th.
A number of drivers had issues on the treacherous Nashville track layout, including Rinus VeeKay and Graham Rahal, who both made impact with the wall early in the session, and Felix Rosenqvist, who sideswiped the wall in the closing minutes. Devlin DeFrancesco also had an encounter with the wall.
After front wing changes, both VeeKay and Rahal were able to return to the track.
Others that had to make use of the runoff areas at various points around the 11-turn, 2.1 mile circuit, including Herta, Callum Ilott, Newgarden, and Pato O’Ward. It was no harm, no foul for these drivers as they were able to get back underway.
Next up for the NTT IndyCar Series field will be qualifying at 4:30 pm ET on Peacock.