Mar 28, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. – Takuma Sato led the second round of practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Sato, who qualified second in this race a year ago, posted a flier of 1:02.5615 in the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Honda for A.J. Foyt Racing. It occurred on his 22nd and final flying lap.
He was third in the morning session and this backed the pace up, even though he said the track seemed a little slower this year.
“I am very excited to back in St. Petersburg and excited to be on track,” said Sato, who has a best finish of fifth in four previous St. Pete races (2011). “The conditions were not very representative as usual for St. Petersburg, but still the car worked really well and we made good progress during this session. Let’s hope this continues and we will work on speed for (qualifying).”
Graham Rahal got the No. 15 National Guard RLL Honda up to second at 1:02.6122, with four-time defending St. Petersburg pole sitter Will Power third in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet at 1:02.6443.
Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top five. Practice 1 leader and defending race champion James Hinchcliffe was seventh.
The 45-minute practice session was peppered with red flag interruptions; Sebastian Saavedra, Juan Pablo Montoya, Josef Newgarden and Jack Hawksworth all had minor off-course excursions but nothing that produced serious damage.
Video from NASCAR America
- Kenseth clinches Chase berth; Bowyer falls out of Grid with one race to go 0
- Kasey Kahne rallies in last 2 laps to win at Atlanta, makes Chase 0
- Tony Stewart’s comeback hopes end with rough 41st-place finish at Atlanta 0
- Tony Stewart the obvious fan favorite during pre-race introductions at Atlanta 1
- Still searching: Castroneves finishes 14th, falls short of IndyCar title (VIDEO) 1
- Will Power claims 2014 IndyCar title as Tony Kanaan ties season win record in Fontana 1
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Tony Stewart’s return to racing: ‘I’m sure that’s where he wants to be’ 0