By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Team Penske’s Will Power led the way during Friday’s 90-minute practice session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course with a time of 69.9487 seconds, the only man to go clock in under 70 seconds.
Power’s No. 12 Verizon Wireless Chevrolet didn’t start off the session to his liking, but eventually were able to provide a real good machine that led to his flying lap.
The three-time GMR Grand Prix winner said the hot weekend in Speedway, Indiana will definitely make things tough for the 26-car grid, especially with the current Aeroscreen as it makes its road course racing debut Saturday (Noon EST on NBC).
“It’s hot in that screen. It’s going to be a tough race in that respect. The cooling is not bad, you’re feeling it out there,” Power on the conditions.
“I started the session far off, honestly. I was able to get the car right in the window so there’s some good things to think about before qualifying and hopefully have a shot at the pole,” Power on qualifying.
Behind Power was Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan’s Santino Ferrucci (70.1242 seconds), who had an up and down session.
Ferrucci was very proud of his team being able to bring a “well connected” No. 18 Mouser Electronics/Molex Honda right out of the game.
“Our engineers put in a lot of work over the winter. We did a lot of time on the sim,” said Ferrucci. “We wanted to be able to roll out with something competitive and focus on qualifying, and that’s what we did. Proud of our team and really looking forward to qualifying.
Despite a smile, there was an incident that brought the session to a halt involving him and Ryan Hunter-Reay nearly 50 minutes in.
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Heading into Turn 6, Hunter-Reay was warming up his tires, but impeded Ferrucci who was trying to get a lap in. This had a disastrous ending for Hunter-Reay, who got hit by Ferrucci and spun in Turn 7.
“I just got dumped. I didn’t even see a car behind me. I’m not sure what happened,” Hunter-Reay informing his No. 28 DHL team over the radio.
“I look at my mirror and I didn’t see any cars. I was weaving down the back straight doing the tire warm up thing,” Hunter-Reay added following being asked if he saw Ferrucci.
Both drivers were able to bring their cars into the pits and continued on with their session, but Ferrucci wasn’t impressed with Hunter-Reay’s actions once seeing the replay.
“There’s a rule in INDYCAR. You can’t impeded someone on a hot lap. I was six tenths down and I saw him coming on the straights clearly doing an out lap and he’s warming his tires,” Ferrucci on Hunter-Reay. “Normally, you check your mirrors and I thought he was going to go wide in the corner. When he didn’t, I tried stopping as fast as I could and I just ended up clipping him.”
In situations like this, Ferrucci bluntly entailed what penalty should be assessed for the former NTT IndyCar Series champion.
“I’d say that’s a warning because it’s practice. You lose your lap in qualifying for that,” Ferrucci responded.
Marcus Ericsson, Pato O’Ward and Scott Dixon round out the top-five. Defending GMR Grand Prix winner Simon Pagenaud only mustered a time of 70.3129 seconds that was good enough for seventh fastest.
The fight for the pole will commence later today at 4 p.m. EST on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold. This will take place following the NASCAR Xfinity Series have their practice sessions as their running of the Pennzoil 150 marks the first time they’re running the road circuit.
Power said that with NASCAR running Goodyear to INDYCAR’s light rubber on its Firestone tires, the group a driver will be in for qualifying is going to dictate what kind of run they’ll have due to the contrasting rubber buildup between both disciplines.
“That’s definitely going to play a part because the track really evolved. INDYCAR rubber went down light, you can see it down the track,” said Power. “I think because I was P1, I get to pick the session so I’ll be second out. Hopefully, there’s some INDYCAR rubber down, so that setup will be pretty valid. For the first guys, I’m sure it’s going to be different.”