LEXINGTON, Ohio (Friday, July 28, 2017) – Ryan Hunter-Reay continued his recent surge, setting the pace on the first day of practice for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
The Andretti Autosport driver was fastest in the second of two 45-minute sessions on the 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a lap of 1 minute, 4.2961 seconds (126.428 mph) in the No. 28 DHL Honda. Hunter-Reay is hopeful it bodes well for a strong showing in Sunday’s race.
“Today, it was a good run. Car was good,” said the 36-year-old Floridian, whose best finish in 11 previous races at Mid-Ohio was third place on two occasions, including 2003 when he logged the first of what are now 37 career podium finishes.
HONDA INDY 200 AT MID-OHIO: Practice 2 results; Combined practice results
“We just made some improvements on it, made the right steps through the session, some (changes) session to session," said Hunter-Reay, who has finished third (Iowa Speedway) and sixth (streets of Toronto) in the past two races. “We didn't test here a week ago, so it's nice to see we have the pace from last year, that we were able to roll in and improve from last year.”
Three Verizon IndyCar Series championship contenders trailed Hunter-Reay on the day’s time sheet. Josef Newgarden was second at 1:04.4375 (126.150 mph) in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet. Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing was third in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda (1:04.4910, 126.045 mph) and Simon Pagenaud fourth in the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet (1:04.5625, 125.906 mph).
Dixon leads the standings after 12 of 17 races. The four-time series champion is three points ahead of Helio Castroneves, 19 in front of reigning series champion and 2016 Mid-Ohio winner Pagenaud and 23 up on Newgarden.
“I think it’s a good start for the No. 9 NTT Data car,” Dixon said. “Finishing P3 overall today isn’t bad, but you always want to be at the top at the end of the day. I love racing here, I love Mid-Ohio and all its challenges. I hope we can continue to improve tomorrow and put on a good show Sunday.”
Both practice sessions ran issue-free other than light rain that brought all cars to pit lane for 15 minutes in the afternoon practice. A final pre-qualifying practice is scheduled for 9:55 a.m. ET Saturday (live stream on RaceControl.IndyCar.com), ahead of Verizon P1 Award knockout qualifying to determine the pole winner at 2 p.m. (live on NBCSN).
Sunday’s race will be the 33rd for Indy cars on the scenic, undulating permanent road course since 1980. Live coverage begins at 3 p.m. on CNBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, with an encore re-air at 7 p.m. on NBCSN.