IndyCar: Iowa second practice in the books

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Author’s note: a slightly tape-delayed broadcast of second practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB at Iowa Speedway is airing until 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Qualifying, if it happens, will air at 7 p.m. ET. If you don’t want to know the results of second practice, we’d advise you read no further.

A weird weather day in Newton, Iowa has allowed enough of a window for the Verizon IndyCar Series to complete its second practice session of the day. Teams were able to get an hour in this afternoon after this morning’s first session was halted after just 13:34 due to heavy storms.

Speeds and times dropped toward the end of the hour session as the track began to re-rubber in. Juan Pablo Montoya, the Pocono winner and making his first start at Iowa Speedway since a 2006 ARCA race, led the time sheets with a best time of 17.4327 seconds around the 0.875-mile oval (184.619 mph).

“We tested here and it’s weird because it’s very different this morning,” Montoya said after his first laps back on the track this morning. “I don’t know if it is because of the NASCAR rubber, but it was a handful this morning. Like when we tested it was nice, predictable, fun to drive and this morning it was like ‘oh really’ how many more? We don’t want to be that unstable.  It looks like we will be okay for practice. We will see whatever it brings.”

Montoya’s Team Penske teammate, Will Power, was second with defending Iowa race winner and practice one leader James Hinchcliffe in third. Those two also clocked in over 184 mph.

Takuma Sato and Scott Dixon completed the top five. Tony Kanaan and Mikhail Aleshin led most of the session but pitted late and ended eighth and ninth.

Oddly, Aleshin’s Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate Simon Pagenaud was 22nd and last after 51 laps completed. The team parked late with a reported balance issue.

Here’s your practice times:

source:

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.