Hunter-Reay fastest in first IndyCar practice at Mid-Ohio

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A lap of 1 minute, 6.5316 seconds, set just before time expired, was enough to give Ryan Hunter-Reay top honors for this morning’s first Verizon IndyCar Series practice at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Hunter-Reay, who enters this weekend’s Honda 200 at 69 points behind championship leader Helio Castroneves, was able to beat out Simon Pagenaud’s lap of 1 minute, 6.6731 seconds.

The two Honda-powered drivers were followed by Chevy-powered Scott Dixon from Chip Ganassi Racing, winners of the last five IndyCar events at Mid-Ohio. Dixon posted a 1 minute, 6.7140-second lap that was good enough for P3 in the session.

Pagenaud’s rookie teammate, Mikhail Aleshin, was fourth-quickest with a 1 minute, 6.7280-second lap. Sebastien Bourdais, one of the winners in the most recent doubleheader weekend at Toronto, rounded out the Top 5 speeds with a 1 minute, 6.8192-second lap.

As you can likely gather from the lap times, the field is tight once again this weekend with one second covering the Top 20 drivers in the first practice. Only Ed Carpenter Racing’s Mike Conway (1:07.7806) and rookie Jack Hawksworth (1:08.0129) fell outside of that.

Also interesting to note was that the leaders didn’t run a big amount of laps; Hunter-Reay ran 10 laps, while Pagenaud (six) and Dixon (nine) didn’t touch double-digits.

Pagenaud did tell IndyCar Radio that his team wanted to spread out its own limited tire allotment, hence the relatively short session for him and Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports.

A second, 45-minute IndyCar practice session will take place later today at 2 p.m. ET.

VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES AT MID-OHIO – FIRST PRACTICE

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MRTI: pre-season testing Day 2 notebook

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Day 2 of testing for the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires saw two series hit the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course for pre-season testing. The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda both got their turns on Saturday after the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires took to the 1.5-mile oval on Friday.

Both series got in two sessions apiece during the day. Below are quick reports for Pro Mazda and USF2000.

Pro Mazda: Thompson, Askew Lead Opening Sessions

A pair of USF2000 graduates led the two sessions for Pro Mazda. In Session 1, it was Parker Thompson and Exclusive Autosport leading the way, while Cape Motorsports’ Oliver Askew, last year’s USF2000 champion, led the way in Session 2. Times from both sessions are below.

Juncos Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, last year’s runnerup in the USF2000 championship, also put in a strong showing, ending up second in Session 2.

This was also the first official session for the brand new Tatuus PM-18, and it’s first official outing showed off quite a bit of speed. Lap times were reportedly upwards of four seconds a lap faster than the previous Elan Pro Mazda chassis.

USF2000: Pabst Racing, Cape Motosports Lead the Way

The teams that battled for last year’s USF2000 crown, Cape Motorsports and Pabst Racing, traded early blows during Saturday testing, with each team leading a session.

Pabst Racing’s Rasmus Lindh led the way in Session 1, with four Pabst cars in the top five, while Kyle Kirkwood led Session 2 for Cape. Times from both sessions are below.

However, it should be noted that DEForce Racing’s Kory Enders spent most of Session 2 at the top of the speed charts before getting pushed down to third late in the running. With the top three finishers from last year’s USF2000 championship all moving on to Pro Mazda (Askew, VeeKay, and Thompson), this USF2000 season could be anyone’s for the taking.

Of note, Keith Donegan, who signed with ArmsUp Motorsports after winning the $200K scholarship from Mazda Motorsports in November’s Mazda Road to Indy Shootout, was 16th in Session 1, but did not turn laps in Session 2.

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