Ryan Hunter-Reay tops Friday Practice for Verizon IndyCar Series’ Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Ryan - Hunter-Reay at Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg (Photo IndyCar - Joe Skibinski)

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - RIS – Ryan Hunter-Reay, winner of the 2014 Indy 500, set the fastest time of the day during Practice 2 for the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg. Hunter-Reay piloted his Andretti Autosport DHL Honda to a quick lap of 1.00.8295 seconds – 106.527 mph. James Hinchcliffe, in the Arrow Electronics SPM Honda, followed just 0.0429 seconds slower.

Matheus Leist, a rookie from Novo Hamburgo, Brazil, led the first practice session with a lap of 1:01.7321 seconds – 104.985 mph. He drives the No. 4 ABC AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet alongside teammate and winner of the 2013 Indy 500, Tony Kanaan.

The first practice session was stopped for a few minutes after Kanaan’s Chevrolet powered race car lost grip and did a quarter turn blocking the racetrack. His car did not make contact with the wall. James Hinchcliffe overshot a turn and slid into the runoff area of Turn 10. The cars were not damaged.

The new race car aero kits create less down force than last year. Air is flowing through intakes on both sides of the side pods, a position much lower than the intake behind the driver’s head that was used last year. The air is hotter than it was in the past, which creates engineering challenges. The totally new package requires more driver input to negotiate turns quickly as the rear of the vehicle tends to step-out as the vehicle loses rear-tire grip. The brakes will be used more frequently and tires spin more as they slide.

Watching the drivers brake into Turn 1, at the end of the longest straightaway on the 1.8-mile 14-turn temporary street circuit during the first practice, showed most of the cars twitching as the approached the apex of the turn. It was the Wiggle in One that really caught driver’s attention.

Saturdays IndyCar Schedule:

11:10 am Verizon IndyCar Series Practice

2:20 pm IndyCar Firestone Fast 6 Qualifying

Dave Chess

Dave Chess has been writing for RIS since the late 1980s during the CompuServe days. His work has also appeared in Auto Week magazine, Chicago Gearhead News newspaper, ATA airlines in-flight magazine, National Speed Sport News and on many websites.

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Volume 2018, Issue 3, Posted 5:03 PM, 03.09.2018