IndyCar: Hinchcliffe leads again, but crashes in Milwaukee second practice

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James Hinchcliffe followed up setting his fastest time in Milwaukee first practice by doing so again in the second, but a crash in Turn 2 will leave his Andretti Autosport crew scrambling before qualifying later this afternoon.

Hinchcliffe, in the No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda, lost the back end while running behind Helio Castroneves going through Turns 1 and 2 with just more than 10 minutes remaining in the second one-hour practice session. He hit the wall with the rear and knocked the wing off, and also incurred some right rear corner damage. Hinchcliffe was checked, cleared and released.

The accident brought out the fourth yellow flag of the session; others flew for minor stops by Josef Newgarden for a minor electrical issue, a track inspection, and Hinchcliffe’s teammate Marco Andretti stopping on-track through 1/2. Both Newgarden and Andretti got back out.

Prior to the wreck, Hinchcliffe improved his morning time and speed, with a new best lap of 165.677 mph (22.0549 seconds). Hinchcliffe was the only driver in the 165s; this afternoon’s practice ran at 83 degrees ambient and 111 on track, nearly 10 degrees ambient and 23 track warmer than this morning.

Ed Carpenter, Tony Kanaan, Mikhail Aleshin and Newgarden rounded out the top five.

Due to the yellows, the session was extended an extra five minutes.

Times are below:

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Qualifying is next and will run from 5 to 6:15 p.m. CT/local time. Here’s the order for that:

1. 18-Carlos Huertas
2. 28-Ryan Hunter-Reay
3. 19-Justin Wilson
4. 34-Carlos Munoz
5. 3-Helio Castroneves
6. 98-Jack Hawksworth
7. 8-Ryan Briscoe
8. 2-Juan Pablo Montoya
9. 12-Will Power
10. 17-Sebastian Saavedra
11. 83-Charlie Kimball
12. 67-Josef Newgarden
13. 10-Tony Kanaan
14. 77-Simon Pagenaud
15. 15-Graham Rahal
16. 14-Takuma Sato
17. 7-Mikhail Aleshin
18. 11-Sebastien Bourdais
19. 20-Ed Carpenter
20. 25-Marco Andretti
21. 27-James Hinchcliffe
22. 9-Scott Dixon

Qualifying airs tonight on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET.

Report: Spencer Pigot out at Ed Carpenter Racing

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar
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Spencer Pigot will not return to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020, according to a story Thursday by RACER.com.

The 26-year-old Floridian, who won the 2015 Indy Lights championship, is expected to be replaced in the No. 21 Chevrolet by 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay.

“I’m appreciative of the opportunity ECR gave me,” Pigot told RACER.com. “I understand the reasons they had to go in a different direction, and wish them all the best.”

In 56 NTT IndyCar Series starts, Pigot has 15 top 10 finishes, with a best finish of second at Iowa in 2018. He finished 14th in the 2019 point standings.

VeeKay, who tested in an Indy car twice for ECR in 2019, has six wins in 18 Indy Lights starts, including a weekend sweep of the final two rounds of the season at Laguna Seca in September.

A representative from ECR told NBC Sports Thursday that the team currently could not comment on any driver rumors as the team currently does not have any drivers under contract for the 2020 season, although it is presumed that owner/driver Carpenter will return to the No. 20 entry for the oval rounds.

NBC Sports will provide updates on the story once more information becomes available.