Friday, August 30, 2013

Vautier, Honda Dominate Second Session

Friday was a dominating day for Honda at Baltimore. Rookie Tristan Vautier was fastest in the second session setting a time of 1:19.4792 seconds. Vautier has won at Baltimore the last two years. In 2011, he won the Star Mazda race in the inaugural year of the Grand Prix of Balitmore and last year Vautier won the Indy Lights race. Vautier went on the win the championship each of those years after those Baltimore victories however that won't happen this year as Vautier has been mathematically eliminated from the IndyCar championship. Graham Rahal was second 0.0838 seconds back with Josef Newgarden third. Scott Dixon was fourth with Vautier's teammate Simon Pagenaud rounding out the top five. These were the only five Honda drivers in top ten of the first practice.

Will Power was sixth, 0.3964 back of Vautier. Power brought out a red flag at the end of the session when he got into the tire barriers at turn nine. He was able to drive his car back to the pit lane. Tony Kanaan was seventh ahead of Takuma Sato. Two four-time champions rounded out the top ten with Sébastien Bourdais ninth and Dario Franchitti tenth. Luca Filippi was eleventh fastest ahead of five consecutive Chevrolets, three of which are Andretti Autosport cars. Oriol Servià was twelfth with Helio Castroneves thirteenth. The Andretti Autosport guys of James Hinchcliffe, EJ Viso and Ryan Hunter-Reay took the next three spots on the time sheet. Justin Wilson was seventeenth ahead of Sebastián Saavedra and Charlie Kimball. James Jakes rounded out the top twenty.

Marco Andretti was twenty-first with Simona de Silvestro in twenty-second. Ed Carpenter was twenty-third and Stefan Wilson was twenty-fourth. The top thirteen were covered by less than a second with the top twenty covered by less than a second and a half. Neither Carpenter or Stefan Wilson were within 105% of the fastest time set by Vautier. Should any driver not be within 105% of the fastest time during qualifying, it is up to the race director to decide whether or not to enforce rule 7.8.1 which states: 
The Race Director may establish a performance standard which all Entries entered in an Event must achieve in order to participate in the Event. In general, Entries must perform with 105% of the Car posting the best time and demonstrate Car consistency, control/placement, and interaction with other Cars on Track to the satisfaction of the Race Director. In general, the standard will be announced to all Competitors prior to the start of the first practice session and will not be raised after practice has started. However, INDYCAR may delay announcement of the standard until a later time based on the physical condition of the Track, safety and other considerations.
Tomorrow, Indy Lights will be on track for final practice at 8:00 a.m. ET with their qualifying being held at 10:55 a.m. ET. IndyCar final practice will be at 9:05 a.m. ET with Firestone Fast Six qualifying taking place at noon ET. Tomorrow's qualifying session will air at 6:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.