LEXINGTON, Ohio – official release — Bret Kelley photo — Earlier this week, Sebastien Bourdais said winning the first race of the July 20 doubleheader on the streets of Toronto jump-started “building something for next year.”
Topping the time sheet in the second Verizon IndyCar Series practice session on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was a solid foundation for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Friday afternoon. Bourdais, driving the No. 11 Mistic KVSH Racing car, recorded a lap of 1 minute, 6.8271 seconds.
“We had a great weekend (at Toronto) and finally capitalized on the pace and promises we’ve had coming into the season,” said Bourdais, a resident of St. Petersburg, Fla., who joined 19 other drivers in testing at Mid-Ohio July 24. “It’s great to be at the front at Mid-Ohio. It’s a fun place. It’s a very challenging track and balance is always the key. You have to hit it just right and gaps are always very minimal. It’s a track that’s very unforgiving and you have to get it right and when you do, it’s a lot of fun.
“We had a good test last week, but we’re still digging. Still looking for stuff and we’re getting a lot closer every time we come out.”
Overall, the lap time in the afternoon session was fifth-quick on the day in preparation for the 90-lap race Aug. 3. Bourdais posted a best lap of 1:06.8192 in the morning session. More than 650 laps were turned.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 28 DHL car for Andretti Autosport, was quickest overall with a lap of 1:06.5316. Another 45-minute session at 10 a.m. (ET) Aug. 2 precedes the three rounds of qualifications, featuring the Firestone Fast Six to determine the Verizon P1 Award winner.
Hunter-Reay, who’s third in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings with four races left in the season, has four top-five and seven top-10 finishes in eight starts at Mid-Ohio. A win would significantly help his prospects of securing a second series title.
“I think the (four Andretti Autosport) cars are good, but we do need to work at it overnight and go for pole tomorrow,” said Hunter-Reay, who has won a series-high three races this season. “Coming down to the final race and a championship on the line, we need to win. It’s amazing to think that we’ve won three races and Helio (Castroneves) has won one, but he’s that far out in the lead in points. But that’s the way the points system is right now, we need to win races because we are in the position we are. But it’s doable still and we’ll keep at it.”
Simon Pagenaud, a two-time race winner this season and the runner-up to Charlie Kimball at Mid-Ohio last August, was second-quick (1:06.6731) overall in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports entry. Scott Dixon, who has won four of the past seven races at Mid-Ohio, was third (1:06.7140) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.
Mikhail Aleshin, making his first start at Mid-Ohio, was fourth in the No. 7 SMP Racing car.
Castroneves, the series’ championship points leader, was 18th on the time chart and Team Penske teammate Will Power, who enters the race 13 points behind, was 14th.