Scott McLaughlin Fastest in Red Flag Filled Second Practice at St. Pete

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(Photo Credit: Chris Owens / Penske Entertainment / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Team Penske‘s Scott McLaughlin finished at the top of the timesheets in second practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, once again flashing the talent that made him such an exciting prospect coming into the NTT IndyCar Series.

McLaughlin posted a 0:59.734 lap time with seven and a half minutes left in the session, the first driver this weekend to dip below the one minute barrier. McLaughlin was one of few to get clean laps on the alternate red-wall tyres brought by Firestone, a brand-new compound not tested before by anyone on the grid.

Three major red flags held up lots of running in the session, the first of which was thrown early in the session. Jack Harvey, with his new team Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, clipped the inside barrier in turn nine, spitting him out right into the outside wall. Harvey, like many involved in these wrecks, did not have any time to run on the reds as his session came to an end very early.

Street course ace Will Power set the early pace, before Alexander Rossi put his Andretti Autosport Honda at the top of the time sheets after about 15 minutes, still on primary tyres. With 19 minutes remaining the second red flag of the day was displayed as Romain Grosjean came together with Takuma Sato, driving the same Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing Honda that Grosjean did last season.

The Swiss-born Frenchman was on a flying lap, while Sato was a part of a slow group in turn ten trying to set up for a fast lap. Grosjean was caught off-guard by the slow pack, and smashed into the rear wing of Sato. This wasn’t the only time they confronted each other on-track this session, having a close call on the out laps as Grosjean tried to move through traffic. Sato got the worst of it, not only sustaining rear wing assembly damage but gearbox damage as well. Most importantly, both drivers were okay.

Teams began fitting the red-wall tyres as they awaited the re-start of the session, and got them on-track with 11 minutes to go. But once again there would be a red flag late, as defending series champion Alex Palou found himself a victim of turn nine as well. Like Harvey, Palou grazed the inside wall, but hit the outside head-on unlike the British driver. Thankfully, Palou was okay after a brutal hit, but that ended his session with very little running on the reds.

A swift cleanup meant that drivers were allowed one more lap at anger before the end of the session, but nobody was able to top McLaughlin. Defending race winner Colton Herta finished the session second fastest, the same position he finished in practice one on Friday afternoon. The same can be said for Meyer Shank Racing‘s Simon Pagenaud, who finished third once again in a fantastic debut weekend for the team so far.

Rossi improved upon his finish in practice one, finishing fourth fastest, while Power finished just behind in fifth. Ed Carpenter Racing‘s Rinus Veekay finished in the top ten once again in sixth while Palou finished seventh despite his crash, the best finish by a Chip Ganassi Racing car all weekend.

Kyle Kirkwood led all rookies with an impressive eighth place finish in his A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet, followed by both Arrow McLaren SP cars of Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist in ninth and tenth respectively, improving greatly on their struggles in practice one.

Ganassi continued to struggle for pace, as Scott Dixon finished twentieth. The six-time series champ finished nineteenth in practice one, and his pace is worrying heading into qualifying.

Devlin DeFrancesco was the fastest rookie not named Kyle Kirkwood finishing fifteenth, with Christian Lundgaard, David Malukas, and Callum Ilott just behind from sixteenth to eighteenth. Kirkwood’s teammate Tatiana Calderon finished the session in twenty-sixth.

It is worth noting that many did not get a clean lap, so this may not reflect true pace on the reds for every driver. With limited running on the faster compound, there is still plenty to be learned in qualifying just a few hours away.

Qualifying for the Firestone Grand Prix will begin at 1230 EST / 1730 GMT.

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – Practice 2 Results

13Scott McLaughlinNZLTeam Penske00:59.7342–.—-
226Colton HertaUSAAndretti Autosport01:00.08510.3509
360Simon PagenaudFRAMeyer Shank Racing01:00.08530.3511
427Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport01:00.10750.3733
512Will PowerAUSTeam Penske01:00.16000.4258
621Rinus VeeKayNEDEd Carpenter Racing01:00.21040.4762
710Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi Racing01:00.23640.5022
814Kyle Kirkwood (R)USAA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:00.24020.506
95Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP01:00.33330.5991
107Felix RosenqvistSWEArrow McLaren SP01:00.37630.6421
1120Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing01:00.38200.6478
1206Helio CastronevesBRAMeyer Shank Racing01:00.38600.6518
138Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing01:00.39100.6568
142Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske01:00.39190.6577
1529Devlin DeFrancesco (R)CANAndretti Steinbrenner Autosport01:00.43900.7048
1630Christian Lundgaard (R)DENRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:00.45870.7245
1718David Malukas (R)USADale Coyne Racing w/ HMD Motorsports01:00.48720.753
1877Callum Ilott (R)GBRJuncos Hollinger Racing01:00.60360.8694
1928Romain GrosjeanFRAAndretti Autosport01:00.75461.0204
209Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing01:00.79701.0628
214Dalton KellettCANA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:00.82031.0861
2215Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:01.32871.5945
2351Takuma SatoJPNDale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing01:01.35911.6249
2445Jack HarveyGBRRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:01.36501.6308
2548Jimmie JohnsonUSAChip Ganassi Racing01:01.88482.1506
2611Tatiana Calderon (R)COLA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:02.13272.3985
(R) – Rookie
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Lifelong sports junkie, currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Hofstra University. Lead writer for Indycar at The Checkered Flag.
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