By Tony DiZinno
Sometimes surprises occur at Road America and while it’s only practice, a welcome surprise occurred at the top of the timesheets in the second Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires session of the weekend.
As on Friday, HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing was on top of the charts. But it was thanks to its two least expected drivers excelling on fresh sticker sets of Cooper Tires late in the session.
Series sophomores Christian Bogle and Antonio Serravalle finished 1-2 in the second practice, the best session results of both drivers’ Indy Lights careers by far, after posting the first two laps in the 1:54 bracket around the 4.014-mile Road America this weekend. Bogle is in the No. 7 Pelican Energy adorned blue and white entry with Serravalle in the traditional black and white HMD colors and his traditional No. 11.
Unlike Friday’s lone practice, Saturday’s second practice saw drivers out early and often to gain laps and get track time ahead of qualifying later today, which is scheduled from noon to 12:25 p.m.
Temperatures of 65 degrees ambient and 67 track greeted the 13 drivers under cloudy skies.
But in a sign this was going to be an unusual session, things got nutty almost from the off.
On his out lap, Benjamin Pedersen went on the grass driver’s left exiting Turn 3, and then went deep off course and through the gravel trap in his No. 24 Global Racing Group with HMD entry. He avoided the tire barrier though and got back going on the grass before returning to the track.
It appeared as though Pedersen was suffering from braking issues because a lap later, he locked the left front on entry into Turn 5.
Friday pacesetter Linus Lundqvist was first into the 1:55 bracket ahead of Danial Frost, Jacob Abel, Christian Rasmussen and Ernie Francis Jr.
Francis Jr. was another to test the limits of his machinery with a heavy lockup a little bit later.
With 26 minutes left in the session though, Rasmussen’s session came to an early end with the team reporting a mechanical issue it needed to diagnose.
McElrea dropped the hammer with a lap more than half a second faster than Lundqvist, down to 1:55.1136. The driver raised in Australia, born in California is sporting a new sponsor this weekend and the rest of the season in the form of Smart Motors Toyota aboard his No. 27 Andretti Autosport entry. That’s linked to former USF2000 competitor JR Smart.
The moments continued with Brabham having a pair, first exiting Turn 14, and a second one a little bit later exiting Turn 13 where he ran wide over the rumble strips but caught up. He shot up the charts though as a result of his pushing.
And then the final surprises of the session occurred when first Serravalle, then Bogle, emerged atop the charts with significantly quicker times. TSO Ladder was able to confirm the new tire runs as the times dropped.
Serravalle’s first flyer launched him up to third and his second, occurring on his 12th lap of the session, moved him to the top of the charts at 1:54.9198.
That time on top was short-lived with Bogle going even quicker at a 1:54.7706.
McElrea’s earlier time held stood for third, best of the Andretti brigade and the only non-HMD with DCR car in the top five. Lundqvist was fourth, Frost fifth, with Brabham falling to sixth ahead of Francis Jr.
Robb, Rasmussen and TJ Speed Motorsports’ Kyffin Simpson completed the top 10. Pedersen’s troublesome session with the aforementioned braking issues left him P13 and last despite completing nine laps.
Indy Lights GP at Road America – Practice #2
|1||7||Christian Bogle||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||1:54.7706||1:54.7706||11|
|2||11||Antonio Serravalle||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||1:54.9198||0.1492||12|
|3||27||Hunter McElrea||Andretti Autosport||1:55.1136||0.3430||13|
|4||26||Linus Lundqvist||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||1:55.3357||0.5651||11|
|5||68||Danial Frost||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||1:55.6128||0.8422||12|
|6||83||Matthew Brabham||Andretti Autosport||1:55.6269||0.8563||13|
|7||99||Ernie Francis Jr.||Force Indy||1:55.6368||0.8662||11|
|8||2||Sting Ray Robb||Andretti Autosport||1:55.7948||1.0242||11|
|9||28||Christian Rasmussen||Andretti Autosport||1:56.5233||1.7527||5|
|10||21||Kyffin Simpson||TJ Speed Motorsports||1:56.6049||1.8343||11|
|11||51||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||1:56.6941||1.9235||12|
|12||12||James Roe||TJ Speed Motorsports||1:57.6908||2.9202||13|
|13||24||Benjamin Pedersen||Global Racing Group with HMD||1:57.8961||3.1255||9|