Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing backed up their strong pace from Practice 1 at ISM Raceway – Takuma Sato topped speed charts in the afternoon – and put Graham Rahal’s No. 15 United Rentals Honda and Takuma Sato’s No. 30 Mijack Honda 1-2 on the board during Practice 2 on Friday night.
Both drivers averaged above 189 mph on their fastest laps, with Rahal’s 189.090 just barely getting the better of Sato’s 189.065.
“So far, so good. The car’s pretty quick on its own. What’s cool is Takuma is right there with us,” Rahal quipped to Katie Hargitt during the streaming coverage for the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
However, Rahal also added that he and the team are battling some setup issues, despite the strong pace they’ve demonstrated.
“I have some understeer that we’ve been fighting all day, using the outside front tire really, really hard, so we’re working on that. But, when you get in heavy traffic, the rear kind of wobbles around a little bit. So, some of that’s caused by the front catching and releasing and stuff like that, and some of it’s is stuff we’ve got to work on in the back.”
Still, as he detailed in a video on the team’s twitter page, there’s plenty of optimism early on.
“We only used one set of tires all afternoon, and I know many other teams used two, and in some cases, three, sets to try to keep up,” Rahal detailed in the aforementioned video. “So, I’m pleased with our performance, I’m pleased with the pace. We need to work on our car in the long runs a little bit, so we’re going to focus on that tomorrow. But, like I said, we saved a lot of tires, so we’ll have more tires, more time to work on it (on Saturday). But, so far, so good. I’m really proud of this team because to show up and have pace like that is excellent.”
Behind Rahal and Sato, Simon Pagenaud ended up third for Team Penske in his No. 22 Menards Chevrolet, with teammate Josef Newgarden right behind him in the No. 1 Hitachi Chevrolet.
A.J. Foyt Racing’s Tony Kanaan completed a strong first day for the Foyt team, ending up fifth in the No. 14 ABC Suppler Chevrolet.
While the early afternoon session saw sporadic running at times – only Kyle Kaiser did more than 60 laps, with the 23-car field covering 943 laps around the one-mile oval – the night session saw a dramatic uptick in running.
Over half of the field did more than 70 laps of running, with three drivers totaling more than 100 laps. Josef Newgarden led the way in that category, with 123 circuits during Practice 2, while the entire field covered 1,704 circuits, nearly doubling the amount of laps covered from the afternoon.
Practice 2 also saw a number of stoppages for track inspections, though the session was remarkably clean. Matheus Leist was the only driver to find trouble on track, the 19-year-old going for a brief spin exiting Turn 2. However, he did not make any wall contact and ended up tenth at the end of the session.
Results can be found here. Testing continues on Saturday with two more sessions, the first at 3:00 p.m. ET and the second at 8:00 p.m. ET, with steaming again available via IndyCar’s website.