A late flyer from Scott Dixon earned the New Zealander bragging rights following the second IndyCar practice session at Sonoma.
The Ganassi driver leaned on a new set of tyres to reel off a 1m18.3145s, enough to edge out Helio Castroneves’ best time by 0.3 seconds.
“I think both [Ganassi] cars have been pretty quick,” said Dixon. “I don’t think Dario [Franchitti] even ran a second set of tyres and he was still in the top seven.
“We just seemed to get our car together a bit on our first set of new tyres in that session – it’s really about getting your lap together.”
A combination of wind, a general lack of grip, and what Dixon described as a ‘mismatched’ specification of tyre for the track left most of the field scrambling to put together consistent laps, and several drivers made brief forays off the track during the course of the session.
Only Ryan Briscoe’s trip into the dirt warranted a red flag, but even that was brief, and the Australian was able to get himself back onto the track and continue running without any problems.
Series debutant Lucas Luhr again finished up 25th-fastest in the second Sarah Fisher Hartman entry, and while the sportscar ace admitted that he is still finding his groove, he rued the timing of the red flag.
“For sure it’s not so easy,” he said. “It’s a new experience for me and these cars have a whole different driving style. But I’m enjoying it.
“It’s just a shame that in practice I was just going out on new tyres when we had the red, so we don’t know what our pace really is.”
Pos Driver Team/Engine Time Gap 1. Scott Dixon Ganassi/Honda 1m18.3145s 2. Helio Castroneves Penske/Chevy 1m18.6694s +0.3549s 3. Will Power Penske/Chevy 1m18.7454s +0.4309s 4. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti/Chevy 1m18.7766s +0.4621s 5. Justin Wilson Coyne/Honda 1m18.8704s +0.5559s 6. Graham Rahal Rahal/Honda 1m18.9844s +0.6699s 7. Dario Franchitti Ganassi/Honda 1m19.0542s +0.7397s 8. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt/Honda 1m19.0719s +0.7574s 9. EJ Viso Andretti/Chevy 1m19.1347s +0.8202s 10. Ryan Briscoe Panther/Chevy 1m19.1502s +0.8357s 11. James Hinchcliffe Andretti/Chevy 1m19.3336s +1.0191s 12. Tristan Vautier Schmidt/Honda 1m19.3366s +1.0221s 13. Charlie Kimball Ganassi/Honda 1m19.3958s +1.0813s 14. Takuma Sato Foyt/Honda 1m19.3989s +1.0844s 15. JR Hildebrand Herta/Honda 1m19.4191s +1.1046s 16. Sebastian Saavedra Dragon/Chevy 1m19.4301s +1.1156s 17. James Jakes Rahal/Honda 1m19.4673s +1.1528s 18. Sebastien Bourdais Dragon/Chevy 1m19.4744s +1.1599s 19. Tony Kanaan KV/Chevy 1m19.4947s +1.1802s 20. Marco Andretti Andretti/Chevy 1m19.5942s +1.2797s 21. Ed Carpenter Carpenter/Chevy 1m19.6785s +1.3640s 22. Simona de Silvestro KV/Chevy 1m19.7767s +1.4622s 23. James Davison Coyne/Honda 1m19.8469s +1.5324s 24. Josef Newgarden Fisher/Honda 1m19.8615s +1.5470s 25. Lucas Luhr Fisher/Honda 1m20.6459s +2.3314s