Ryan Hunter-Reay leads second practice at St. Petersburg

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Ryan Hunter-Reay led the second practice Friday for the NTT IndyCar Series, turning the fastest lap (1:00.8969) in his Andretti Autosport Honda on the streets of St. Petersburg.

Spencer Pigot, driving a Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing, was second fastest in the session for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, followed by Marco Andretti, Colton Herta and Max Chilton.

“We definitely made some changes between the sessions,” Hunter-Reay, who was second fastest in the first session, told NBC Sports Gold. “We’re right on the edge of tipping it over. The Firestone Reds came in really quickly. as they always do The car is a handful at the moment. I’d like it to be more polite in a few areas, but we’ll keep working on it.”

There were no major incidents during the session, though Zach Veach and Scott Dixon both went off course.

Click here for the results of the second practice at St. Petersburg.

Click here for the combined results of the first and second practice at St. Petersburg.

INDYCAR: Patricio O’Ward turns heads in Carlin debut

Chris Jones / IndyCar
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While the top story coming out of Sunday’s IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas is undoubtedly 18-year-old Colton Herta’s victory in only his third IndyCar start, another teenager made quite some noise during the first IndyCar race at the facility.

19-year-old Patricio O’Ward made an impressive start to his 2019 IndyCar campaign by starting and finishing in eighth position. It was the first of his 13 races this season for Carlin Racing.

“I think it was a pretty good race for us. We ended exactly where we started and didn’t go backwards, so I’d say that was a successful day” O’Ward said. “I know the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet had a top-five finish in it today and even though we couldn’t make it happen, it’s nice to know that we have the pace and can be fighting up front with the veteran drivers.”

O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champ, made his series debut for Harding Steinbrenner Racing at last year’s season finale at Sonoma Raceway, where he made it to the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying and finished ninth. O’Ward was scheduled to race for the team full-time in 2019, but left in early February to pursue other options due to a lack of sponsorship.

Pato found a new home with Carlin, and despite missing preseason testing, he proved to be competitive from the get go and pressured some of IndyCar’s more tenured drivers, including Graham Rahal.

In what was undoubtedly the most daring move of the race, O’Ward ended a great battle with Rahal by hitting a superb outside pass on Lap 15.

O’Ward may have likely earned a better result on Sunday, if he didn’t have to save fuel in order to make the finish.

But with only two IndyCar starts to his credit, he is already racing like a seasoned veteran. Sunday’s IndyCar Classic may be the first of many successful outings for him this year.

After the race, he tweeted to his team: “Well done gentlemen … This is only the beginning.”

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