Ryan Hunter-Reay was quickest in second practice in Long Beach, despite spinning into the tires during the session. Andretti Autosport had two cars in the top three, as Tony Kanaan backed Hunter-Reay up with third place, the duo split by Penske's Ryan Briscoe.
"In the first session, we knew the track was pretty bad, so we didn't get out of our mindset of sticking to our guns. We knew what worked," said Hunter-Reay. "In the second session, we just worked on the balance of the car. We found what did work and what didn't work. I think there's still a little more time in the car, so we're pretty happy with it. It's going to get quicker tomorrow, and these guys are all going to go quicker. So we'll have to keep changing, keep on top of the developing racetrack. It's good, though. The guys did a good job. The good thing is we only used two sets of tires today."
Hunter-Reay spun into the tires heading onto the back straight, causing one of the session's four stoppages. He escaped with only minor rear wing damage, and was soon able to rejoin and set the day's benchmark time with a 1:10.6346. Both Briscoe and Kanaan got to under a tenth of a second, but could not beat Hunter-Reay to the top spot.
"It's the first step toward beating him," Briscoe said of finally edging his fellow Australian teammate Power. "He's doing an amazing job. He's definitely going to be the one to beat in qualifying tomorrow. He's been fast here in the past.
"I think, as a team, we're extremely strong at the moment. We're really pushing each other a lot. There's a really good vibe within. And I really feel like coming into this part of the season, I really need to step it up in qualifying. For sure, to get the race wins, my first step is going to be stepping it up in qualifying."
Alex Tagliani and the new FAZZT team were an excellent fourth, ahead of points leader and morning pacesetter Will Power (Penske), and Dreyer & Reinbold's Justin Wilson.
"We kind of knew that Long Beach was going to be a more suitable track for our car," said Tagliani. "We are still in the learning process, and I think today we learned a lot and made very good changes to the car. We recovered well from our incident this morning, and the guys did a fantastic job of getting the car ready to go for the last practice. The car is very close, but we're still trying to get a little bit more out of the car and the track continues to grip up. There's been like a second of improvement from this morning's times to this afternoon. I feel that the team is where it needs to be and with this particular track and what is happening and how competitive we are the team is right where it needs to be. We are still learning more information, and now we are gathering a good group of data from the most recent tracks, so we are starting to come full circle on our information. If we can build on the information, I think we'll continue to be more consistent and have the car where we want it which is quick out of the box."
Target Chip Ganassi Racing was also in the wars during the afternoon. Dario Franchitti nosed into the same tire barrier as Hunter-Reay, although he was quickly extracted and able to rejoin with a new front wing. His teammate Scott Dixon then slid into the tires at Turn 1 right at the end of the session, just as the field was released for a final flying lap following a previous stoppage caused by Bertrand Baguette crashing his Conquest car.
Between incidents, Franchitti and Dixon secured seventh and 10th places, sandwiching Mario Moraes (KV) and Helio Castroneves (Penske).
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti 1m10.6346s
2. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1m10.6979s + 0.0634s
3. Tony Kanaan Andretti 1m10.7334s + 0.0988s
4. Alex Tagliani Fazzt 1m10.7995s + 0.1650s
5. Will Power Penske 1m10.8640s + 0.2295s
6. Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold 1m10.9195s + 0.2849s
7. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1m10.9285s + 0.2939s
8. Mario Moraes KV 1m10.9642s + 0.3297s
9. Helio Castroneves Penske 1m11.0267s + 0.3921s
10. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1m11.0751s + 0.4406s
11. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon/de Ferran 1m11.1231s + 0.4886s
12. Marco Andretti Andretti 1m11.2022s + 0.5676s
13. Takuma Sato KV 1m11.3858s + 0.7512s
14. Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m11.3981s + 0.7635s
15. Simona de Silvestro HVM 1m11.4294s + 0.7948s
16. Dan Wheldon Panther 1m11.9148s + 1.2802s
17. EJ Viso KV 1m11.9308s + 1.2963s
18. Vitor Meira Foyt 1m11.9809s + 1.3464s
19. Graham Rahal Sarah Fisher 1m11.9863s + 1.3517s
20. Mario Romancini Conquest 1m12.0613s + 1.4267s
21. Bertrand Baguette Conquest 1m12.0952s + 1.4607s
22. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 1m12.1850s + 1.5504s
23. Danica Patrick Andretti 1m12.4116s + 1.7771s
24. Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne 1m12.4210s + 1.7864s
25. Milka Duno Dale Coyne 1m27.3002s + 16.6656s