Nighttime saw more cars running in packs, this one led by Mikhail Aleshin
From the Track

Saturday Recap from Verizon IndyCar Series Open Test at Phoenix Raceway

Story Credit: Jared DePouw
Photo Credit: Jared DePouw

The second day of Verizon IndyCar Series testing at Phoenix Raceway began with a thud as the #98 car of Alexander Rossi crashed hard into the Turn 2 wall after fewer than five minutes. Rossi would escape uninjured, but the car sustained significant damage to the rear after it backed into the Turn 2 wall. “I’m not completely sure what happened because the car felt fine – it just got loose and snapped. The car was good going into Turn 1, I went down to the bottom and the back end came out,” said Rossi about his incident. “This was my first real contact with the wall – better here than in qualifying or the race – and it won’t stop me from pushing hard.”

Fortunately, the crew of the #98 car was able to replace the rear suspension & engine and got the car back out for the evening session.

Overall speeds were much higher today compared to yesterday with both JR Hildebrand unofficially breaking Helio Castroneves’ track record of 192.324mph with a lap of 193.234mph. Because Hildebrand’s lap didn’t occur during qualifying or a race, Castroneves’ record continues to stand. The afternoon session ended up being the least active session, with only a total of 795 laps completed over three hours.

Saturday Practice #1 – Top 3

  1. JR Hildebrand – 193.234mph
  2. Ed Carpenter – 192.404mph
  3. Josef Newgarden – 191.932mph

Fastest No-Tow Lap: JR Hildebrand – 192.844mph

Under the lights for the final session of the weekend saw generally slower speeds compared to the afternoon session as teams went out in race configuration. Early on into the final session saw Graham Rahal spin exiting Turn 2 and made contact with the wall, damaging the left-rear section of the car. “(Josef) Newgarden had just come out of the pits and I was trying to get a run on him going down the back to get clear of him and catch back up to the group that I was behind. The thing was building understeer up until that point and, once I got close to him, the rear just went,” said Rahal when asked about his incident. “It’s unfortunate, the guys certainly don’t need any more work and I obviously didn’t want to bring the thing home on the wrecker. I don’t think the damage is extensive but it’s enough to tick us off. It’s frustrating because the test has been going good. To end it that way is disappointing.”

With just over an hour remaining in the final session, Takuma Sato became the third victim of Turn 2 as he spun by himself and made contact with the wall. Sato would require assistance getting into the safety response vehicle, but was checked and released from the infield care center.

The final half hour of practice saw contact between Josef Newgarden and Sebastien Bourdais in Turn 1 as Newgarden attempted to pass Bourdais on the inside. Wheel-to-wheel contact between the two cars led to a caution period and Bourdais nearly making contact with the Turn 2 wall. The final incident of the evening occurred with about fifteen minutes remaining when Hildebrand clipped Will Power, breaking a front wing end fence. The resulting lack of downforce and understeer caused Hildebrand to collide with the Turn 4 wall and nearly collide with Max Chilton as Hildebrand skid towards the inside wall.

Saturday Practice #2 – Top 3

  1. Ryan Hunter-Reay – 189.716mph
  2. Sebastien Bourdais – 189.495mph
  3. Marco Andretti – 189.063mph

Fastest No-Tow Lap: Ryan Hunter-Reay – 189.716mph

Jared DePouw
Jared is the founder of RealOpenWheel.com but works as a small business accountant. He also officiates high school football and lacrosse in his free time.

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