CLICK: Full practice 2 results from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
CLICK: Combined Friday practice results from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
KVSH Racing's Sebastien Bourdais was the fastest man on track at Mid-Ohio Sports Car course, in the second of three practice sessions at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn permanent road course.
Bourdais' time of 1:06.8271s (121.639mph) put him 0.0539s clear of Andretti Autosport's Carlos Munoz, with AJ Foyt's Takuma Sato following close behind the pair. However, Bourdais' afternoon time was slightly slower than his morning effort. The top eight times on Friday came from the earlier session, with Bourdais' pre-lunch effort putting him into fifth place for the day as a whole.
That means that Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay was the fastest man overall on Friday. "It was a good start to the day," he said. "We were quickest in the morning with the DHL car. Because of the stoppages in the second session, we never got moving the way we wanted to.
"I think the cars are good, but we do need to work at it overnight and go for pole tomorrow," he admitted. "Coming down to the final race and a championship on the line, we need to win. It's amazing to think that we've won three races and Helio has won one, but he's that far out in the lead in points. But that's the way the points system is right now, we need to win races because we are in the position we are. But it's doable still and we'll keep at it."
Munoz was one of only five drivers to improve on their morning efforts, the others being Sato, Justin Wilson (Dale Coyne Racing), Jack Hawksworth (Bryan Herta Autosport) and Mike Conway (Ed Carpenter Racing). However despite their improvements, both Hawksworth and Conway remained at the bottom of the combined timesheets for Friday.
The reason for the slower times in the afternoon was the appearance of the first red flag stoppages of the weekend. In the first, Simon Pagenaud - who had been second-fastest in the morning session for Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsport - slid into the gravel run-off area at turn 4 just after the mid-point of the 45-minute session. The #77 required recovery, but once kitted out with new tyres the Frenchman then went on to set his fastest lap of the session to pop into seventh place on the timesheets proving there was no lasting harm done.
The second red flag of the session came minutes before the scheduled end of the session, when Wilson's team mate Carlos Huertas spun off and stalled on the inside edge of the keyhole having just set eighth-fastest time. The session did not resume after the red flag, meaning that many drivers who had been preparing to lay down their flying laps were unable to do so.
The morning's pace setters - Ryan Hunter-Reay, Pagenaud and Scott Dixon - all finished in the top ten times. Strangely anonymous in the session were the Penske contingent of Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Juan Pablo Montoya who ended up in 11th, 13th and 14th positions in the afternoon having not really shown their hands so far.
There will be one further 45-minute practice session on Saturday morning for them to nail down their set-ups before the qualifying session on Saturday afternoon, which will take the familiar elimination round format for street and road courses culminating in the Firestone Fast Six pole shootout.
There will also be a half-hour warm-up session on Sunday morning before the race itself which takes place at 3.50pm local time (8.50pm BST) on Sunday afternoon.
See full practice 2 results from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
See combined Friday practice results from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course