Times improved for the IZOD IndyCar Series in the Sunday morning warmup for the second race of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader (3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network). Eleven drivers clocked in with a time less than one minute around the 1.755-mile Exhibition Place street circuit.
Points leader Helio Castroneves of Team Penske led race one winner and race two polesitter Scott Dixon, with a 59.4705 ahead of a 59.4154. Dixon’s Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti was third fastest.
Will Power (Penske) and James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Autosport) led an all power team-top five.
Sebastien Bourdais, Justin Wilson, Takuma Sato, E.J. Viso and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top 10.
In his first session for Panther Racing, Ryan Briscoe’s injury replacement Carlos Munoz ran 22 laps and posted a best time of 1:00.9032, ahead of Ed Carpenter at the rear of the field.
The unofficial grid is linked here. Briscoe was scheduled to start eighth in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet, before the driver change.
Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport
A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.
Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.
That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.
However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.
“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”
Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”
Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.
“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”
Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.