Herta tops second IndyCar practice at Laguna Seca

Colton Herta of Andretti Global set the pace in IndyCar’s second practice at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, two-tenths ahead of Team Penske’s Will Power, after a session interrupted by three red flags.

The session was only six minutes old when Christian Rasmussen, who had just turned the second fastest lap, shunted the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet at Turn 10. The IndyCar rookie and reigning Indy NXT champion appeared to clip the curb in the dip at the apex which unsettled the car. It thrashed its tail wildly before spearing across the gravel and into the tire wall.

When action resumed, 24 of the 27 cars hit the track immediately, which made it a busy track for almost all. However, Alexander Rossi of Arrow McLaren found space enough to go top with a 1m08.6153s, ahead of Felix Rosenqvist of Meyer Shank Racing and Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing. Palou’s teammate Dixon had a spin at Turn 11 after locking the rear tires, but recovered without causing a red flag.


However, the second flag took only a couple more minutes to arrive, as Sting Ray Robb got it all wrong under braking at the top of the Corkscrew and spun backward into the gravel, requiring the AMR Safety Team to tow him out.

The session restarted with 30 minutes to go, and current points leader Power ran off the road between Turns 2 and 3 but just about kept it off the tires. Meanwhile, Kyle Kirkwood drew within two-hundredths of Rossi’s benchmark with a 1m08.6319s, and not long after, Marcus Armstrong became the fastest of the Ganassi drivers, with the third-fastest time.

Pato O’Ward had sat out the first half of the session after losing a set of primaries to flat spots in yesterday’s session, but when he did hit the track he looked spectacular and jumped into the top 10 with his second lap, then landed top spot, snipping 0.0655s off teammate Rossi’s time, then carved a 0.1474s margin — 1m08.4679s or 117.673mph. However, Herta — a two time winner here — went almost a quarter-second quicker with the first 118mph lap of the morning.

Palou plugged the gap between the former Indy Lights teammates but was still two tenths off Herta, while Scott McLaughlin, fastest yesterday, put Team Penske into the top three, shading the two McLarens.

With 15 minutes remaining, Power became Penske’s pacesetter with second, 0.2s behind Herta, while Dixon, apparently recovering from handling difficulties on Friday, jumped to sixth.

Then out came the third red flag, as one of Dixon’s Ganassi teammates, Kyffin Simpson, looped into the gravel on the exit of Turn 9. He didn’t make contact with anything solid, so the Safety Team didn’t take long to drag him out. However, finding clear track became a problem again in the eight minutes left, so only Rosenqvist (seventh) and Santino Ferrucci (18th) improved.

Thus Herta led Power, Palou, McLaughlin, O’Ward, Dixon, Rosenqvist, Rossi, Kirkwood and Armstrong.

Qualifying begins at 2.15pm local (Pacific) time.


Story originally appeared on Racer