LEXINGTON, Ohio – Andretti Autosport continued its assault on the top of the time sheets for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, with Alexander Rossi and Takuma Sato leading this morning’s final practice prior to Verizon P1 Award qualifying this afternoon.
Rossi, in the No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda, logged the best lap of the 45-minute session at 1 minute, 4.2303 seconds (126.557 mph) that is the fastest of the weekend thus far on Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course’s 2.258-mile circuit. Sato was second in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda, at 1:04.3272 (126.366 mph).
A third Andretti driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay, was fastest in Friday afternoon’s practice with a lap of 1:04.2961 that holds up as the second-best of the weekend thus far. Rossi said his crew made overnight changes to the car based on Hunter-Reay’s setup to improve today.
“We just looked at (Hunter-Reay’s) car and saw where he was strong, and took a little bit of that,” said Rossi, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner fresh off a second-place finish two weeks ago in the Honda Indy Toronto. “That’s the great thing about Andretti Autosport. We see what each other is doing and it’s a great team effort.”
Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan finished third and fourth in the practice, giving Honda the top four spots. Championship leader Dixon’s best lap in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda was 1:04.4696, with Kanaan at 1:04.5067 in the No. 10 NTT Data car. Josef Newgarden was the top Chevrolet driver in the session, fifth at 1:04.5579 in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske entry.
The practice was halted twice for single-car incidents. Will Power, in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, stopped on course and required a tow-in to pit lane. Late in the session, Mikhail Aleshin lost control of his No. 7 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda and spun into the tire barrier on the inside of Turn 12. He was uninjured.
Rossi has never qualified better than third in 28 career Verizon IndyCar Series races before this weekend. The 25-year-old Californian is hoping to better that this afternoon, but knows track conditions will be different.
“It’s a good confidence booster, for sure,” he said of topping the chart this morning. “We’ve been struggling for putting everything together. We did it in this session and we just need to repeat it this afternoon.
“The track’s going to change with the support series putting different rubber down, so we need to be on top of it and anticipate it.”
Knockout qualifying consists of three rounds concluding with the Firestone Fast Six to determine the pole sitter. Live coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Sunday’s 90-lap race airs live on CNBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network starting at 3 p.m., with an encore re-air on NBCSN at 7 p.m.