Ryan Hunter-Reay smashed the Sonoma lap record on his way to setting the fastest time in the second practice session for this weekend’s IndyCar season finale.
The Andretti driver reeled off a 1m16.8702s with his first flying lap, and the time remained unbeaten for the rest of the session.
The venue’s single-lap qualifying record of 1m17.2393s was set by Will Power in the opening qualifying round last year.
However that time would only have been good enough for 12th-fastest on Saturday morning: seven drivers ended the session with times in the sub-1m17s range, with title contender Graham Rahal finishing up just 0.02 seconds off Hunter-Reay’s time.
The Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver could potentially have gone faster still, based on a late radio message to his team suggesting that he’d made a small error on his last flying lap and cost himself several tenths.
Championship dark horse Josef Newgarden was third-fastest, just ahead of points leader Juan Pablo Montoya.
The session was punctuated by a few wild spins, including a lurid slide from Tony Kanaan, a big catch by Rahal in the Carousel, and a couple of trips into the grass by Kanaan’s Ganassi team-mate Sebastian Saavedra.
None of the incidents resulted in contact, although Saavedra prompted the only red flag of the morning when his car came to a stop on the infield drag strip, forcing race control to call a halt to allow for its retrieval.