Andretti Autosport continued to flex its street course muscles Saturday morning during practice for the Honda Indy Toronto, with Colton Herta taking his turn on center stage.
Herta led an Andretti sweep of the top two spots in the final session before NTT P1 Award qualifying, turning a best lap of 1 minute, .5657 of a second in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda. That’s the quickest lap of the weekend so far on the 11-turn, 1.786-mile temporary street circuit around Exhibition Place in Canada’s largest city, topping the 1:00.8075 lap that his teammate Kyle Kirkwood produced to lead practice Friday.
SEE: Practice Results
Varying amounts of rain throughout the session added more challenges for the 27-driver field in practice. That precipitation could continue in NTT P1 Award qualifying, set for 2:50 p.m. ET (Peacock in U.S., TSN+ in Canada, INDYCAR Radio Network).
“It kept getting faster through the session,” Herta said. “My fastest lap was on the second run on the first set of tires, when it was raining quite heavily. You know how it is on these street courses; the development of the track grip is so rapid. So, you really have to stay on top of that.
“That’s what most of the changes overnight included, trying to strap down that rear end a little more without creating that much more understeer. We’re still missing a little bit there, and we’ll need a little more front grip for the (alternate) tires, but overall, good session.”
Kirkwood followed his strong performance in Friday practice by ending up second today at 1:00.5972 in the No. 27 AutoNation Honda. Marcus Ericsson was third at 1:00.6350 in the No. 8 Huski Ice Spritz Honda. Kirkwood and Ericsson are street-circuit winners this season, with Kirkwood taking the checkered at the Acura Long Beach Grand Prix and Ericsson at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding.
Championship leader Alex Palou jumped to fourth after ending up 12th Friday. Palou’s best lap today was 1:00.6802 in the No. 10 Journie Rewards Honda.
Palou, who leads the standings by 110 points over teammate Scott Dixon, is trying to become just the sixth driver since 1970 to win four consecutive INDYCAR SERIES races, joining Al Unser (1970), Al Unser Jr. (1990), Alex Zanardi (1998), Cristiano Da Matta (2002) and Sebastien Bourdais (2006).
Pato O’Ward rounded out the top five at 1:00.7054 in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, the quickest Chevy-powered driver.
The tricky conditions led to one incident that triggered a red flag with about seven minutes remaining in the session. Felix Rosenqvist was unhurt after the right side of his No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet tagged the concrete barrier in Turn 5.
Live coverage of the 85-lap race starts at 1:30 p.m. ET Sunday on Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network in the United States and TSN in Canada.