Photo: Joe Skibinski
The track temperature as Practice 2 began was 115 deg. F. IndyCar authorized a modification to provide additional cooling to the cockpit using templates provided by Dallara to cut an opening in the nose cap of the front wing assembly. “Fortunately, it’s not supposed to be a bazillion degrees, but the humidity is what makes it difficult,” said Sebastien Bourdais (KVSH Racing, Chevrolet). “Any air flow can only help.”
Rookie Mikhail Aleshin (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Honda) spun 6 min into the practice, bringing out a red flag. Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Honda) had the fastest time at that point with 1:01.9793. Tony Kanaan (Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevy) spun 10 min. in, bringing out another red flag. With less than 3 min. to go Jack Hawksworth (BHA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian, Honda) hit the curb hard, going three wheels in the air, damaging his car and bringing out a third red flag.
Simon Pagenaud (Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports, Honda) turned in the fastest time, 1:00.1415, roughly 0.3 sec faster than Will Power’s (Team Penske, Chevy) fastest time from Practice 1 in the morning. Ryan Briscoe (NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevy) was 0.5013 sec back.
Rookie Luca Filippi (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) acquitted himself very well, finishing the session with its third quickest lap, 1:00.6735. Aleshin recovered well from his early spin to finish practice P5 at 1:00.7031. Helio Castroneves (Team Penske) slotted himself between the two newcomers at 1:00.6905. James Hincliffe (Andretti Autosport, Honda) was sixth at 1:00.7577.
Filippi, who has only started four IndyCar races qualified P7 and finished 10th in the first race at Houston last year, talks about why this circuit suits him so much in video posted here. The Italian, a former Formula 1 test driver for Honda, got his big break in racing when he won a competition that landed him a ride in a Mazda MX-5 Cup car. After winning a race the following season, he began his rise up the European racing ladder, competing in Formula Renault 2000, Italian Formula 3000 and GP2. Filippi scored 11 wins in five seasons in GP2. He finished second in both the GP2 Championship and Auto GP Championship in 2011.