Colton Herta is finding his groove again on the streets of St. Petersburg.
Herta led practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on Saturday morning with a top lap of one minute, .0779 of a second in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda. Herta, who won this race from the pole in 2021 after leading 97 of 100 laps, was second quickest Friday in practice at 1:01.6475.
“We have a bit of understeer now, but the car’s good,” Herta said. “We did our first run and driving it a bit like a fuddy-duddy, not getting everything out of it, but then afterward we seemed all right. It’s a good place to be in, second in the first session, first in this one. I feel comfortable on both compounds of tires.”
SEE: Practice Results | Practice Highlights
Reigning race winner Scott McLaughlin rebounded from tapping the wall twice in practice Friday to end up second in practice today, turning a best lap of 1:00.2511 in the No. 3 DEX Imaging Team Penske Chevrolet. Rinus VeeKay was third at 1:00.4601 in the No. 21 Bitnile.com Chevrolet.
Kyle Kirkwood was fourth at 1:00.5294 in the No. 27 AutoNation Honda. 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Alex Palou rounded out the top five at 1:00.6960 in the No. 10 The American Legion Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
NTT P1 Award qualifying is next at 2:15 p.m. ET (live, Peacock) on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile street circuit that includes the streets of downtown St. Petersburg and a runway of Albert Whitted Airport. Herta, Kirkwood and Palou all look like good bets to reach the Firestone Fast Six and compete for the pole, as they were the three drivers to end up in the top five in both practice sessions so far this weekend.
Six-time series champion Scott Dixon led practice Friday, but he was one of three drivers to trigger a red flag due to an incident in this one-hour session. Dixon hit the tire barrier in Turn 4 in his No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda late in practice.
Others bringing out the red in separate incidents were Romain Grosjean after a spin in the No. 28 DHL Honda and Sting Ray Robb after hard double wall contact with the No. 51 biohaven Honda.