Laguna Seca IndyCar: Ryan Hunter-Reay fastest on Friday

David Malsher
Hunter-Reay ends day one of Laguna finale fastest
Hunter-Reay ends day one of Laguna finale fastest

Ryan Hunter-Reay put his Andretti Autosport Dallara-Honda on top in second practice for the IndyCar season finale at Laguna Seca.

All but two entries ran the softer red-sidewalled Firestone tyre compound to set their best times, and it was Andretti Autosport driver Hunter-Reay who clipped 0.02 seconds from Felix Rosenqvist's Chip Ganassi Racing entry to edge to the top with a 1n09.9105s lap of the 2.238-mile course.

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Behind Rosenqvist, morning pacesetter Colton Herta put his Harding Steinbrenner Racing Dallara-Honda into third, while Penske's Simon Pagenaud was top title contender in fourth, bouncing back from an off into the Turn 1 gravel that he was able to extricate himself from.

Less lucky was Scott Dixon in the second Ganassi car, who simultaneously spun off at the penultimate and caused a red flag - the subsequent penalty costing him the last five minutes of the session.

How the title can be won

As it stands, Newgarden leads Rossi by 41 points, Penske team-mate and 2016 champion Simon Pagenaud by 42 points, and defending champion Scott Dixon by 85 points.

For Newgarden, the title can be wrapped up by finishing fourth or better as even if Rossi wins and scores all bonus points, as he would be unable to make up sufficient ground.

Even fifth could be enough for Newgarden, but only if Rossi and Simon Pagenaud fail to clinch any bonus points alongside victory at Laguna Seca.

A sixth title for Scott Dixon is looking very unlikely as he would require victory and a full set of bonus points, Newgarden finishing 23rd in a 24-car field, as well as Rossi and Pagenaud finishing sixth or worse.

Santino Ferrucci was fifth, just ahead of points leader Josef Newgarden in the second fastest Penske, while Will Power was seventh after a mild off at the last turn when attempting a second qualifying simulation.

Max Chilton in the second Carlin car and title contender Alexander Rossi stayed on the harder Firestone tyres for that session, ending up 15th and 23rd respectively.

The second part of the session, the so-called warm-up and pitstop practice, featured two red flags caused by Ed Jones and Herta failing to negotiate the first left-hander of the exceedingly tight pitlane entrance and stalling.

Hunter-Reay ends day one of Laguna finale fastest
Hunter-Reay ends day one of Laguna finale fastest

By leaving his fresh set of reds until this second part of the session, Rossi was easily able to emerge on top with a time eight tenths faster than his nearest opposition - team-mate Hunter-Reay.

Several teams minimised their pitstop practice in order to try to maximise their time on red tyres to check their duration.

Power ran 18 laps and saw a two-second drop-off, while team-mate Pagenaud also looked very strong across his albeit shorter red-tyre stint.

Rossi shut his engine down as he exited the Corkscrew on his final lap, as he had run out of fuel. He admitted to the media later it was simply to save the fuel pumps, but the car was able to coast from Turn 8A down the hill, negotiate pitlane entry and still reach his pitbox, albeit at painfully slow pace by the end.

Sebastien Bourdais' Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan car did not take part in this 'warm-up' session due to neck pains that prompted a visit to IndyCar medical.

Practice two times

Pos

Driver

Team

Car

Time

Gap

Laps

1

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Andretti Autosport

Dallara/Honda

1m09.9105s

-

13

2

Felix Rosenqvist

Chip Ganassi Racing

Dallara/Honda

1m09.9305s

0.0200s

15

3

Colton Herta

Harding Racing

Dallara/Honda

1m09.9317s

0.0212s

14

4

Simon Pagenaud

Team Penske

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m10.1353s

0.2248s

11

5

Santino Ferrucci

Dale Coyne Racing

Dallara/Honda

1m10.2066s

0.2961s

6

6

Josef Newgarden

Team Penske

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m10.2248s

0.3143s

14

7

Scott Dixon

Chip Ganassi Racing

Dallara/Honda

1m10.2722s

0.3617s

10

8

Will Power

Team Penske

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m10.3350s

0.4245s

13

9

Marcus Ericsson

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Dallara/Honda

1m10.3910s

0.4805s

12

10

Charlie Kimball

Carlin

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m10.4359s

0.5254s

11

11

Marco Andretti

Andretti Herta

Dallara/Honda

1m10.4426s

0.5321s

14

12

Takuma Sato

Rahal Letterman Lanigan

Dallara/Honda

1m10.4468s

0.5363s

16

13

Spencer Pigot

Ed Carpenter Racing

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m10.4632s

0.5527s

14

14

Conor Daly

Andretti Autosport

Dallara/Honda

1m10.4633s

0.5528s

16

15

Max Chilton

Carlin

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m10.6346s

0.7241s

11

16

Zach Veach

Andretti Autosport

Dallara/Honda

1m10.6620s

0.7515s

15

17

Matheus Leist

AJ Foyt Enterprises

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m10.7009s

0.7904s

10

18

Sebastien Bourdais

Dale Coyne Racing

Dallara/Honda

1m10.7061s

0.7956s

10

19

James Hinchcliffe

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Dallara/Honda

1m10.7730s

0.8625s

13

20

Graham Rahal

Rahal Letterman Lanigan

Dallara/Honda

1m10.8807s

0.9702s

19

21

Ed Jones

Ed Carpenter Racing

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m10.8846s

0.9741s

13

22

Tony Kanaan

AJ Foyt Enterprises

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m10.9484s

1.0379s

13

23

Alexander Rossi

Andretti Autosport

Dallara/Honda

1m11.0234s

1.1129s

13

24

Jack Harvey

Meyer Shank Racing

Dallara/Honda

1m11.0584s

1.1479s

14

'Warm-up' times

Pos

Driver

Team

Car

Time

Gap

Laps

1

Alexander Rossi

Andretti Autosport

Dallara/Honda

1m10.0988s

-

11

2

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Andretti Autosport

Dallara/Honda

1m10.8926s

0.7938s

14

3

Colton Herta

Harding Racing

Dallara/Honda

1m10.8950s

0.7962s

11

4

Scott Dixon

Chip Ganassi Racing

Dallara/Honda

1m11.0371s

0.9383s

14

5

Conor Daly

Andretti Autosport

Dallara/Honda

1m11.1182s

1.0194s

12

6

Simon Pagenaud

Team Penske

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m11.6939s

1.5951s

18

7

Takuma Sato

Rahal Letterman Lanigan

Dallara/Honda

1m11.8590s

1.7602s

19

8

Max Chilton

Carlin

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m11.8839s

1.7851s

18

9

Felix Rosenqvist

Chip Ganassi Racing

Dallara/Honda

1m11.9168s

1.8180s

18

10

Matheus Leist

AJ Foyt Enterprises

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m12.1161s

2.0173s

18

11

Marco Andretti

Andretti Herta

Dallara/Honda

1m12.1296s

2.0308s

14

12

Ed Jones

Ed Carpenter Racing

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m12.1402s

2.0414s

14

13

Charlie Kimball

Carlin

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m12.3297s

2.2309s

19

14

Zach Veach

Andretti Autosport

Dallara/Honda

1m12.4342s

2.3354s

17

15

Marcus Ericsson

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Dallara/Honda

1m12.5036s

2.4048s

19

16

Josef Newgarden

Team Penske

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m12.6557s

2.5569s

19

17

Graham Rahal

Rahal Letterman Lanigan

Dallara/Honda

1m12.6597s

2.5609s

14

18

Will Power

Team Penske

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m12.6807s

2.5819s

19

19

Spencer Pigot

Ed Carpenter Racing

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m12.7008s

2.6020s

14

20

Jack Harvey

Meyer Shank Racing

Dallara/Honda

1m12.8349s

2.7361s

19

21

Santino Ferrucci

Dale Coyne Racing

Dallara/Honda

1m13.0335s

2.9347s

18

22

James Hinchcliffe

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Dallara/Honda

1m13.3935s

3.2947s

16

23

Tony Kanaan

AJ Foyt Enterprises

Dallara/Chevrolet

1m13.4652s

3.3664s

14

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