It was exactly one year ago at this test that Andretti Autosport sophomore pilot Ryan Norman turned his first ever oval laps. The 19-year-old turned a lap at 187.

“I think so,” said the Cleveland, Ohio native pensively when asked if leading a testing session was meaningful. “I think it’s an overall confidence booster. At the end of the day, it’s a lot different than (leading at) a road course. But, with the hard work that we’ve put in over the offseason, I think I’ve shrunk that gap from last year a lot, so I think I’ll be a lot more competitive than last year, and we should be able to challenge for wins.

Norman’s lap of 187.170 mph was just shy of Paul Dana’s 2004 189.74mph pole lap, that was set on a fairly new track surface during qualifying. For reference, the NASCAR track record is 181.238 mph set by Brad Keselowski in 2014, and the quickest Verizon IndyCar Series lap was a scorching 218.539 mph lap set by Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006.

Second year Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Norman led the oval portion of Indy Lights testing at Homestead Miami Speedway (Photo courtesy of IMS photography)

During the final 60 minutes of the session, the quartet of Andretti Autosport drivers went out in nose-to-tail formation. Once with used tires, and once with fresh tires. All four of the Indianapolis, Ind. based teams drivers set their quickest lap near the end of the day, and the team ended up with the four quickest speeds.

The half-dozen drivers turned a total of 337 trouble-free laps. Veteran Dalton Kellett, who turned 83 laps, was the busiest pilot doing the three-hour afternoon session.

Indy Lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway – oval test session #2 timesheet

1 48 Ryan Norman Andretti Autosport 187.170 59
2 28 Dalton Kellett Andretti Autosport 186.660 83
3 27 Pato O’Ward Andretti Autosport 186.375 78
4 98 Colton Herta Andretti Steinbrenner Racing 185.928 63
5 23 Victor Franzoni Juncos Racing 183.379 38
6 7 Alfonso Celis Juncos Racing 183.216 16

Here are a couple of notebook items to end the day:

  • Reigning Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire champion Victor Franzoni was in the Soul Red Juncos Racing machine for the first time, and also his first time in the more powerful turbocharged Mazda race car on an oval. The Brazilan told us that the biggest difference was the sheer speed of the IL-15. The winner of last year’s Pro Mazda race at Gateway Motorsports Park told us that he wasn’t pushing too hard and that it was just nice to get the rust off.

Reigning Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni turned his first laps in an Indy Lights machine on an oval (Photo courtesy of IMS Photography – Joe Skibinski)

  • The 1.5-Mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval is not a track that the series races at, so most drivers weren’t pushing too hard. Andretti Autosport veteran Dalton Kellett did explain to us that there was still some things to be learned. He and his engineer were able to confirm that some changes that they made to the car corresponded to what the Canadian felt on track.
  • While not on track today, USF2000 and Pro Mazda drivers were busy taking headshots, doing Road To Indy TV interviews and taking part in an MRTI Media Training session with the NBC Sports Network’s Kevin Lee. The USF2000 and Pro Mazda drivers take to the 2.21-mile, 14-turn road course for two days of testing beginning tomorrow, Saturday, February 24, 2018.
  • Two iterations of Indy Lights series have raced on the 1.5-Mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval an even dozen times. Four of those times were in the Championship Auto Racing Teams era, and eight of those races were sanctioned by INDYCAR.
  • David Empringham and Forsythe Racing won the inaugural Indy Lights race in 1996, while Brandon Wagner and Davey Hamilton Racing won the final Indy Lights race in 2010.
  • The 1.5-Mile oval came to life under the direction of promoter Ralph Sanchez as a means to help the south Miami-Dade County and Homestead, Fla. area rebound from the utter devastation of Hurricane Andrew, has had a number of different configurations in the facilities two-plus decade history.
  • The track began as a 1.5-Mile copy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with it’s four flat rectangular corners, but unlike the Speedway, Ind. track, passing was difficult and crash angles were dangerous.
  • In 1997, the track was configured as a more conventional continuous turn oval, but still with low banking.
  • The final change to the track took place in 2003 when the flat corners were replaced with the higher 18 to 20-degree variable banked turns