Rookie driver Colton Herta ended Friday as the fastest NTT IndyCar Series driver at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the strength of one of only three 1:05 laps turned during the day’s second 45-minute practice.
- Results: 2019 Honda Indy 200 Practice 2
Herta knocked 1.3209 seconds off his best time from the weekend’s first session earlier on Friday to secure the top spot in just his second session at the historic venue in North America’s premier open-wheel championship.
The young American’s chart-topping 1:05.7292 lap came on his 13th of 16 total tours of the 2.258-mile circuit and while it was half a second shy of last year’s Practice 2 pace at Mid-Ohio, Herta’s effort was enough to put 0.2021 seconds between his No. 88 Honda and the bright yellow Menards Chevrolet of Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud, who placed second.
Will Power made it two Team Penske cars in the top three, crossing the timing line 0.0622 seconds after Pagenaud on their respective best laps. Herta, Pagenaud and Power were the only drivers to go quicker than 65 seconds.
Felix Rosenqvist and Ryan Hunter-Reay completed the top five, 0.2926 and 0.2994 seconds within Herta’s top lap. Honda claimed a majority stake of the top 10 to conclude practice day as James Hinchcliffe, Matheus Leist, Jack Harvey, Spencer Pigot and Sebastien Bourdais comprised the remainder of the top 10.
Primary championship contenders Josef Newgarden and Alexander Rossi were unsurprisingly near one another on the results sheet but, rather than being near the forefront of the field, the two Americans languished in the 11th and 13th positions, respectively. Split by Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie Marcus Ericsson, the top two in the points were 0.8415 and 0.8514 seconds slower than Herta.
The rear of Newgarden’s PPG-branded Chevrolet sustained damage when the former IndyCar titlist spun and backed into the tire barrier at Turn 9 late in Practice 2, prompting INDYCAR to offer the field one timed lap as the clock ran out while the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team tended to Newgarden and the wrecked Team Penske entry.
Carlin debutant RC Enerson was confronted by Tony Kanaan on pit lane immediately following the session as the two-time IndyCar starter darted past his competitors who were crawling on track to allow gaps to form between cars leading into the concluding lap around the short, tight road course. Multiple drivers aborted the timed lap and simply returned to pit lane as they remained inhibited by other drivers at the timing line nearing the end of their out lap, which offered little opportunity to generate heat in tires anyway.
Enerson found 0.9876 seconds between Friday’s two sessions and placed 15th out of 23 drivers in Practice 2. After leading Practice 1, Scott Dixon was 16th in the second session, 0.0696 seconds slower than Enerson.
Ohio native Graham Rahal struggled in the session, landing last on the timesheet at more than 1.5 seconds off Herta to end day one at his home race.
A third 45-minute practice is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. EDT Saturday before the grid is set with knockout qualifying beginning at 2:35 p.m. Qualifying will be televised live on NBCSN beginning at 2:30 p.m.