Dixon leads Power in stop-start second practice at Detroit

Dixon leads Power in stop-start second practice at Detroit
Dixon leads Power in stop-start second practice at Detroit

Experience took precedence over youth in IndyCar’s second practice session on the new downtown Detroit racecourse, Scott Dixon leading Will Power, as all drivers struggled to find a clear lap between traffic and red flags.

Since yesterday, the pit exit has been pinched, the blend line moving three feet closer to the right-hand wall to allow cars on the track to swing out and take a wider entry into the left-handed Turn 1 that follows.

The session was barely three minutes old when the first red flag flew as Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden got his Penske-Chevrolet stuck down an escape road and needed retrieving.

One of his teammates, Scott McLaughlin, was the first driver to set a sub-65sec time with a 1m04.3660 on his sixth lap, an average of 92.005mph around the 1.645-mile course.

Kyle Kirkwood obliterated that with a 1m03.5658s for Andretti Autosport-Honda, and Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda’s Alex Palou also ducked under the 64sec barrier but then out came the second red to retrieve Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet.

Palou had just moved up to the top of the times but then spun down an escape road and stalled, so out came the third red. The fourth followed soon after, thanks to Colton Herta’s Andretti car stranded in the Turn 8 runoff.

Another constant throughout the first half of the session, was the speed of yesterday’s pacesetter, the Arrow McLaren-Chevrolet of Pato O’Ward and Palou’s teammate Marcus Armstrong, the Kiwi shining on a track that is new to everyone. Both of them were within a tenth of Palou’s 1m03.7165.

With a quarter-hour to go, Callum Ilott was a late improver in the Juncos Hollinger Racing-Chevrolet, but then he brushed a tire wall and pitted.

Scott Dixon delivered a 1m03.5, then a 1m03.2317s to go top – a very impressive time on primary tires. Kyle Kirkwood’s earlier 1m03.5658s was also reinstalled on the glitchy timing and scoring screens to put him second, while Penske’s Will Power kept trimming his time after a spring change at the rear of the #12 car to put himself in the top five. However, with 10mins to go he was bumped out of the top five by McLaughlin.

Just a couple of minutes later, Turn 7 claimed Devlin DeFrancesco who went in head-on and this was followed by a right-side impact.

With the #29 AA car scooped up and cleared away, there were nine minutes left as the field got the green flag, the drivers blended together from the two-abreast pitlane and then tried to find a gap to set a flyer. On such a short track, that was near impossible for anyone more than five cars back.

Power’s original best was invalidated for crossing the pit exit blend line, but in the dying moments he set a 1m03.4627 to vault into second, albeit still 0.23 off Dixon’s benchmark and after a wild fishtail moment into the tires at the final turn.

NBC Sports revealed that Meyer Shank Racing did not have to change Helio Castroneves’ Honda unit despite his electronics causing engine over-revs yesterday, but they did make an early switch-out of the Honda unit in the back of his teammate Simon Pagenaud’s #60 entry.

Qualifying will commence at 1.20pm local (Eastern) time.

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