With the distractions of rain, rookie orientation and refresher programmes out of the way at last, the drivers and teams got down to proper business on Tuesday with the second day of official practice for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.
After effectively sitting Monday out and only going out on track for quick shakedown laps, the Penske squad were properly in action on Tuesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and it was no surprise to see Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud go to the top of the timesheets.
CLICK: Full times from practice 2 for the Indianapolis 500.
Castroneves set the best time of the day early on, with a time of 39.5580s (227.514mph) in just his seventh lap of 72 in total on the 2.5-mile speedway, while Pagenaud was among the drivers who left it late in the day for when cooler air prompted the drivers to take advantage of an outbreak of draft running. His time was just 0.0229s off that Castroneves, who also set the fastest non-draft lap of the day clocking in at 225.315mph.
"It was a good day," said Castroneves, who is a three-time Indy 500 champion and was runner-up in 2014 to Ryan Hunter-Reay. "The Shell V-Power Nitro+ car was super strong, super solid, felt comfortable.
"Now we've got to just keep working with this new aero kit," he continued. "Today was basically the second day that we've been working constantly, but I like what I see. Things are looking in the right direction. We're not focused on just the lap, we're focused on the performance of it all."
Pagenaud finished a tenth up on Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon who was third fastest. "We struggled a bit with the Target car for most of the morning, specifically with the rear of the car and the way I wanted it to be in order to be comfortable," said the New Zealander. "We worked on a lot of geometry with it and later on it seemed to come around to my liking. I think we made some decent progress and will keep working on things tomorrow if the weather holds up for us."
Justin Wilson was fourth fastest and the best of the Hondas on Tuesday, but was subsequently also the cause of a full course caution late in the day when he suffered an apparent engine failure that sent smoke billowing into the air.
"I looked in the mirror and there was a lot of smoke coming out of the exhaust so, yeah, it's unfortunate," said Wilson, whose engine was in any case near to its end of required mileage. “I don't know exactly but I guess we put the other engine in early. It's not a big issue and I'm not concerned about it. We have lots of miles and won't reach the maximum of 2,500.