The NTT IndyCar Series drivers were back at it again on Wednesday for another six hour test session around the 3.41-mile Circuit of the Americas. Like Tuesday, Colton Herta was the dominant car around the Texas road course.
Herta, paced the field for the opening session of the day with a lap of 1:46.6401-seconds in his No. 88 Honda. What was more impressive was that he did that in just 11 laps turned. That was the second fewest out of the 25 drivers in that two hour session and he still stood on top.
Alexander Rossi was P2 in his No. 27 Honda, being 0.3731-seconds behind Herta. Rossi, circled the track with a lap of 1:47.0132-seconds at the start of a great day for the Andretti Autosport driver.
Simon Pagenaud (1:47.2116-seconds) was third quick while his teammate Josef Newgarden (1:47.8136-seconds) was fifth.
Scott Dixon was the meat to the Penske sandwich rounded out the top five in fourth. His No. 9 Honda turned a lap of 1:47.7899-seconds.
The fourth and final session of the week wrapped up with some familiar faces up front. This time. Rossi knocked Herta from his perch, circling the track just 0.1466-seconds better than his rookie counterpart.
Rossi, went 1:46.8535-seconds while Herta was at 1:47.0001-seconds.
Honda’s were the story of the second session with the top six speeds and eight of the top nine being all Honda.
Ryan Hunter-Reay was P3 in his No. 28 Honda with a time of 1:47.1757-seconds while the Chip Ganassi Racing duo of Felix Rosenqvist (1:47.2941-seconds) and Scott Dixon (1:47.3684-seconds) were fourth and sixth respectively.
The rookie Rosenqvist fells like he learned a lot after studying on Tuesday night. His teammate Dixon, well he still feels like he’s missing it.
“It’s been positive,” said the Swede. “Yesterday we had a big gap to the front guys, so I had to do a bit of homework last night. My NTT DATA car has seemed to be quick in every session this year. I think we can really fight in the top five, but there are still things we have to learn and work on. For me, I kind of learn every time I’m out. But after two days here, it feels like we’re done and it’s time to move on to Sebring.”
“We had a big break before the last 45 minutes (of the afternoon test session),”Dixon said. “We tried a few different things, but I don’t feel like we really got – it kind of just feels really disconnected for me in some portions of the track, quite good in others. I don’t think I did a really good job in piecing together a lap either. It seems like there is something wrong with the suspensions too. That is what we were kind of chasing before. The steering wheel is kinked to the left and then also when it brakes, it brakes funny. We’re trying to figure that as well.”
Graham Rahal rounded out the top five. He turned in a lap of 1:47.3662-seconds.
“Two great days of testing here at COTA,” the second generation driver said. “We ended up fifth and there is a lot for us to be happy about. We found a lot over the past two days. Starting where we did yesterday morning, for us to be fifth is a great accomplishment. I think we learned a lot. When we go back to Laguna Seca, when we go to a lot of other tracks there is a lot that we can take from here. I’m really proud of my guys. They really worked hard. This United Rentals car looks awesome. I’m really happy with how things went and looking forward to coming back.”
James Hinchcliffe was P8 but felt that if not for a red flag, he’d be even higher. The speed that they found on Wednesday gives him high hopes for the return next month.
“Another productive day.,” said Hinchcliffe. “Obviously, we closed the gap to the guys in front, and it’s even closer than it looks on the timesheets because we kind of got hosed by that red flag at the end on our last set of tires when everyone was getting quicker and quicker. I’m really happy with the progress that we made, the direction that we found, and we’ll keep chipping away at it. Hopefully, by qualifying day here on the race weekend, the Arrow Electronics cars will be right up there.”