As reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon expected, the competition on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway circuit is razor close. He just happened to produce the best timed lap in the second practice session May 8 for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, recorded a best lap of 1 minute, 10.4654 seconds on the course that was revised from the one used in the past by Formula One, MotoGP and sports cars.
Five different teams were represented in the top five of the 45-minute session, and the top 24 cars were separated by less than a second under a canopy of blue sky and summer-like temperature.
Click it: Practice 1 results || Practice 2 results || Combined practice results
“The cars are on a knife's edge. The straights are so long that you’re trimming the car out to levels that I think we’ve only seen once before in Brazil on a street course with another really long straight," said Dixon, who's posted a pair of top-five finishes in the first three races. "That there makes it tough, the window of being on the edge and going for the quick time is uncomfortably small, but it’s a lot of fun. You’re constantly chasing the track.
"I think this layout, because it is smooth, the grip is quite high, you'll see some really good racing. You may not have the contact that you would have had at Brazil in those confined spaces. I expect it to be one of the best races we have this year just because of the layout of the track and how trim the cars have to be and even the different configurations that teams may choose to run the race."
Each of the three Verizon IndyCar Series races this season has had a different pole sitter and winner.
Simon Pagenaud was second in the session -- .0191 of a second back -- in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports car, while series championship points leader Will Power was third (1:10.5672) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske entry. Sebastien Bourdais, driving the No. 11 Mistic KVSH Racing car, was quickest in the morning session (1:10.5150) and third overall.
Scheduled for May 9 is practice at 10 a.m. (ET) and the three rounds of qualifications to determine the Verizon P1 Award winner and set the first three rows at 2 p.m. Rain is forecast for the afternoon, which, as Bourdais noted, "everything goes back up in the air and we will see where we land."
Click it: Segment 1 qualifying groups
The race, which will feature a standing start on the Speedway's oval frontstretch, will start at 3:50 p.m. May 10.
Click it: Listen to the post-practice news conference
INDYCAR penalized drivers Jack Hawksworth and Josef Newgarden for being late to the mandatory weigh-in after the first practice session. Hawksworth was penalized three minutes at the tail end of the 45-minute second session and Newgarden sat the final six minutes.
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