Ganassi's Scott Dixon put himself firmly into contention to challenge for pole position in qualifying for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California by posting the fastest time of the day so far in second practice on the two-mile oval.
Dixon left it late to go top with a lap of 217.629mph (33.0839s), which was 0.027s faster than the best time recorded in the morning by Ryan Briscoe who is subbing for the injured James Hinchcliffe in the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport car.
CLICK: Full practice 2 times from Auto Club Speedway
Second fastest in the afternoon - although not managing to better Briscoe's morning benchmark time - was Penske's Simon Pagenaud who was 0.1171s slower than Dixon in the scorching afternoon conditions.
Ed Carpenter was third fastest in second practice, confirming a return to form for CFH Racing after a dismal showing for the team in the previous oval race of the season at Texas Motor Speedway at the beginning of May.
The fastest Honda-powered driver in the session was AJ Foyt Racing's Takuma Sato who was in fourth on the timing screens ahead of Penske's Juan Pablo Montoya. Another of the Honda contingent, Marco Andretti, was sixth fastest in the #27 Andretti Autosport car just ahead of Briscoe who fell back to seventh ahead of a brace of Ganassis consisting of Sage Karam and last year's race winner Tony Kanaan.
The top ten was rounded out by Sato's team mate Jack Hawksworth, but the top 15 cars were all within half a second of Dixon's best time of the 75-minute session and all but two of the 23 cars in action during the session were within one second.
Just on the other side of that dividing line was Schmidt Peterson Motorsport's James Jakes, who ran only 27 laps after his session was curtailed by an engine issue that laid down a large amount of fluid on the track. That forced a lengthy red flag period while track workers soaked up the fluid using speedy-dry, and the session was extended by 15 minutes to make up for some of the lot track availability. The team will now have to work fast to get the #7 ready for qualifying later in the afternoon.
The most number of laps put in by any driver in the session was 56, recorded by Dale Coyne Racing's Pippa Mann. However the English driver remained the slowest of the cars taking part in practice, her best lap of 209.884mph (34.3046s) proving to be 1.2207s off Dixon's pace when the chequered flag called time on the extended session.
Next up will be qualifying for the MAVTV 500, which will consist of two-lap single-car time trials as is routine for IndyCar events held on ovals, rather than the three-round elimination group qualifying format utilised at street and road course events.
There will be no pre-race warm-up session on Saturday, just a one-lap systems check in the morning. The race itself will get underway just after 1.30pm local time (9.30pm BST).
See full practice 2 times from Auto Club Speedway
Combined Friday practice times from Auto Club Speedway