IndyCar completed its one hour, 15-minute lone practice session of the day on The Raceway on Belle Isle on Friday with Hondas in five of the top seven positions, led by Alex Tagliani of Barracuda Racing in the No. 98 Honda (1:18.2096). But the results of the session were not the main story to emerge from Detroit.
The session on the 2.365-mile track was disjointed, interrupted, and peppered with six red flags. One came from – and this is serious – a family of ducks crossing the track.
There were already two prior red flags, one for Josef Newgarden stopping on track in Turn 3 and the other for a spin for Panther Racing’s new driver Ryan Briscoe, before half an hour into the session, ducks were spotted on track in Turn 11. They were ushered away without harm, and no feathers flew.
The madness wasn’t over when Target Chip Ganassi Racing had a double whammy of its own to cause the fourth red flag. Scott Dixon stopped on course between Turns 9 and 10, with team manager Mike Hull telling IndyCar Radio the car had lost power, while Dario Franchitti brushed a wall.
Further spins followed from James Hinchcliffe and James Jakes to cause the fifth and sixth red flags, while AJ Allmendinger had a cut tire and stopped in a runoff area to cause a local yellow flag.
As the end of the session was as close to an uninterrupted period of time as possible, a number of drivers made huge strides on their final laps. Dixon was second behind Tagliani, with Newgarden third, Will Power fourth and Ryan Hunter-Reay fifth.
Mike Conway got Dale Coyne’s second car up to a more than respectable sixth, with Jakes, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Takuma Sato in the top 10.
Briscoe, in his first session for Panther Racing, ended in 20th. Qualifying for the first race, in the usual format, goes green at 3 p.m.