Sebastien Bourdais typically excels at road courses and Friday morning’s first of two IndyCar practice sessions at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was a perfect example of that.
Bourdais had a best lap of 1:05.5784 at 123.955 mph to pace the 24 drivers in the field for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at the 2.25-mile twisting road course in north-central Ohio.
“We got a baseline,” Bourdais told the IndyCar Radio Network. “We didn’t test here because we only have one test day left at Gateway. We pretty much through the kitchen sink at it and the guys did a real good job. The car is real close, I think.”
Josef Newgarden was second-quickest (1:05.9167 at 123.319 mph), followed by series points leader Scott Dixon (1:06.2157 at 122.762 mph), Takuma Sato (1:06.2424 at 122.713) and Spencer Pigot (1:06.2456).
Of note during the session:
* Takuma Sato went off the track briefly with about 30 minutes left in the session, but was able to recover and continue on without incurring any damage.
* Matheus Leist slid off the track entering Turn 5 in the hairpin turn, bringing out a brief red flag practice stoppage. Leist did not hit anything and was able to get his car back on-track.
* Robert Wickens pulled his car off the track after a puff of smoke came out of the rear of his No. 6 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, bringing out a brief flag.
* With just over three minutes to go in the session, Zach Veach looped his car, didn’t hit anything and was able to continue on.
* The session ended in a dicey situation. Will Power spun in Turn 9, trying to avoid slow-moving teammate Simon Pagenaud. Former Mid-Ohio winner (2013) Charlie Kimball then ran into the rear of Tony Kanaan, leaving Kimball’s car with front end damage.
“I was coming with a big head of steam on hot tires, and by the time I turned in and saw the yellow, the 14 was backing up because he had a little clearer vision,” Kimball said. “I feel bad about getting into the 14. Hopefully, it didn’t do too much damage to him and us.”
Added Power, “It was pretty hectic. I was worried that I spun at the crest of hill and nobody could see you. The car isn’t that bad. We’re creeping up on it, understanding what we need.”
There will be one more practice session today at 2:30 p.m. ET, followed by a session Saturday morning before qualifying takes place early in the afternoon to set the field for Sunday’s race.
Also of note:
* Conor Daly is back for a second straight race in the No. 88 for Harding Racing. Daly replaced Gabby Chaves at Toronto, finished 13th.
* Pietro Fittipaldi returned to action for Dale Coyne Racing after suffering a broken leg nearly three months ago.