CLICK: Full practice 1 results
CLICK: Full practice 2 results
CLICK: Friday practice combined times
Friday at Iowa Speedway proved to be more a matter of watching the skies and hoping that the rain stopped and stayed away than it was about drivers actually getting out on the 7/8ths of a mile oval and putting down fast lap times.
The first session, which had been scheduled to last for 75 minutes, ended with rain arriving just 15 minutes into the session. When officials were forced to bring out red flags to cancel the session, Andretti Autosport's James Hinchcliffe had posted the fastest lap time of 17.5249s (183.647mph) which was 0.0081s faster than Ganassi's Tony Kanaan.
Until the yellows came out for rain, the only incident of the short-lived first practice session had been for the endplate from the rear win of Ryan Hunter-Reay's #28 flying off.
Because of the drastically curtailed running time, IndyCar officials scheduled a second practice session for later in the afternoon after the rain had passed over the area and the track had been dried. Even so, the new session started an hour later than hoped and was further interrupted just ten minutes into the session by renewed sprinkles of rain.
In the end, the weather relented sufficiently to allow the drivers to have something in the order of 45 minutes of practice, with the best times coming late in the session and going to Penske duo Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power. Montoya's time of 17.4327s (184.619mph) was 0.0033s ahead of the championship leader, while Hinchcliffe repeated his earlier strong form to set the third fastest time of the session.
Although Montoya won pole an the race last week at Pocono, the former F1 and NASCAR driver admitted that he still had a lot to learn about racing an open wheel car at a short oval like Iowa.
"I've got to figure out how close you can run," he explained. "Are you comfortable running the second groove and you've got to experiment, but you've got to experiment carefully because if you get it wrong you are out. Right now, we just really need to be smart about how we do things.
"I think managing traffic is going to be really important," he added. "If you are not leading keeping up with the leaders is going to be key."
The top five times of afternoon practice were set in the second session, with Kanaan the first man not to be able to improve on his speed in the brief first session. For the most part teams were concentrating on race trim and not worrying about qualifying set-up as there is a significant chance that the weather may further affect the planned sessions.
Qualifying is due to take place at 6pm local time (12midnight BST). The schedule originally planned a post-qualifying early evening practice session to allow teams to work on race set-up but that now will not take place, as the circuit is also playing host to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday evening.
The Iowa Corn Indy 300 is scheduled to start at 7.50pm local time (1.50am BST) on Saturday evening, but weather may again be a concern.
Full practice 1 results
Full practice 2 results
Friday practice combined times