The other half of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis surprise front row, alongside polesitter Sebastian Saavedra, is rookie Jack Hawksworth in the No. 98 BHA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian Honda.
Hawksworth put in quite a bounce back effort from starting second-to-last (22nd) in Barber Motorsports Park two weeks ago, his first permanent road course race in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Now, he has second on the grid but more importantly his third top-10 start in four races.
And yet he’s optimistic and hungry for more if he can get the jump on Saavedra from the front row.
“We have very good pace. I’m actually quite excited,” the Bradford, U.K. native said of having the snarling pack of 23 other IndyCars behind him heading into Turn 1. “I think the car is very good. We have a clear track ahead. If we can get Saavedra at the first corner, we’ll try and pull away, see what we can do.”
Hawkworth reckoned he, along with the rest of the Firestone Fast Six runners, had more time in hand before Ryan Hunter-Reay’s accident off Turn 14 ended the session.
“I think everybody had a lot more on the table,” he said. “I think the fastest lap was going to be on the last lap. Everybody was pretty quick.”
Once more, Hawksworth extolled the virtues and work of his Bryan Herta/Steve Newey-led team. Like Josef Newgarden at Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, this is the case of a young driver on a single-car team doing wonders to punch above their weight.
“In some ways it’s good, get through the politics,” he said regarding the lack of a teammate. “To be honest, I’m working very well with the team. They’re giving me what I want.
“I think I’m able to kind of lead them in the right direction with the car, as well. I’m not too worried about not having a teammate. I kind of like it.
“I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season with them. We started the season out quite strong. There’s been glimmers of speed and potential. Not all quite there yet, but hopefully tomorrow is the day when we do to.”
In three races Hawksworth has been taken out twice by accidents not of his own doing, and finished 12th at Barber. He has his best chance to score his first series top-10 finish, if not do more, on Saturday in the Charter/Energee entry.