Ryan Hunter-Reay went fastest in a busy second IndyCar practice session at Long Beach, where track time was interrupted four times by red flags.
Hunter-Reay produced a lap of 1m09.4224s to take the top spot for Andretti Autosport, leaving Rahal Letterman Lanigan's series returnee Mike Conway second-quickest with a time just 0.0379 second off that set by the reigning champion.
"It was a weird day, just never really got a rhythm with the stoppages and the couple of incidents out there," Hunter-Reay said. "I really didn't get to see who was involved and what happened, but it took a little bit of time out of what we were trying to accomplish with the car. I love Long Beach, always love getting back in the rhythm of this racetrack. Unfortunately Mike likes it, too."
Indeed, Conway – winner of the race in 2011 while driving for Hunter-Reay's Andretti Autosport team – was immediately up to speed in his one-off appearance with Rahal Letterman Lanigan's Dallara-Honda – while regular team driver James Jakes was again showing strong form, in sixth. By contrast, Graham Rahal had another troubled session, winding up dead last in the second session, although his morning time left him midpack on combined times.
"Got rid of the cobwebs and the car felt good though we couldn't get a clear run," said Conway, who was also second in the first session. "We got one [lap] in, and I think a lot of people they either got one or they didn't get any, so we were lucky to just get the one."
Early leader Will Power finished up with the third-best lap in his Penske entry, although the constant interruptions made it hard for all teams to string together meaningful runs.
Sebastian Saavedra triggered the first stoppage with one of the more entertaining incidents of the season so far. The Colombian overshot Turn 6 and went into the escape road, flicked his car around so that he was facing toward the track again, slammed the throttle to get himself back onto the circuit, and immediately lost the rear and hit the barrier.
The next red flag was prompted when Justin Wilson went wide and hit the wall, leaving the trailing Simona De Silvestro with nowhere to go except into the rear section of Wilson's car. The pair were sitting eighth and ninth, respectively at the time of the crash.
"Justin had an incident and was stuck into the wall and there was no yellow flag, so I think I was the second car behind him and saw him too late and ran into him," De Silvestro explained. "It was a bit unfortunate because I think we were pretty quick and had a few things to try today. We are going to have to try and cram everything in [tomorrow]."
Scott Dixon's turn came next, the Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver sideswiping the Turn 9 barrier and coming to rest in the middle of the track with both sets of left-side suspension broken. The New Zealander accepted blame for the mishap.
“I just lost it on entry and chased it into the wall," he conceded.
The session was completed when EJ Viso crashed in the final minutes, bringing proceedings to an early end.
Teams have one more practice session on Saturday morning before going into qualifying in the afternoon.
Practice 2 times
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m09.4224s
2. Mike Conway Rahal Dallara-Honda 1m09.4603s + 0.0379s
3. Will Power Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m09.5166s + 0.0942s
4. Tristan Vautier Schmidt Dallara-Honda 1m09.5657s + 0.1433s
5. Helio Castroneves Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m09.6608s + 0.2384s
6. James Jakes Rahal Dallara-Honda 1m09.7664s + 0.3440s
7. Alex Tagliani Herta Dallara-Honda 1m09.7829s + 0.3605s
8. Dario Franchitti Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m09.7891s + 0.3667s
9. Takuma Sato Foyt Dallara-Honda 1m09.9197s + 0.4973s
10. James Hinchcliffe Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m10.2298s + 0.8074s
11. Scott Dixon Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m10.2431s + 0.8207s
12. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt Dallara-Honda 1m10.2472s + 0.8248s
13. Marco Andretti Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m10.3292s + 0.9068s
14. Sebastien Bourdais Dragon Dallara-Chevy 1m10.3735s + 0.9511s
15. Justin Wilson Coyne Dallara-Honda 1m10.4208s + 0.9984s
16. Simona de Silvestro KV Dallara-Chevy 1m10.4872s + 1.0648s
17. JR Hildebrand Panther Dallara-Chevy 1m10.4906s + 1.0682s
18. Tony Kanaan KV Dallara-Chevy 1m10.4956s + 1.0732s
19. AJ Allmendinger Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m10.5424s + 1.1200s
20. EJ Viso Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m10.8132s + 1.3908s
21. Josef Newgarden Fisher Dallara-Honda 1m11.1275s + 1.7051s
22. Ana Beatriz Coyne Dallara-Honda 1m11.1949s + 1.7725s
23. Oriol Servia Panther/DRR Dallara-Chevy 1m11.2345s + 1.8121s
24. Charlie Kimball Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m11.3759s + 1.9535s
25. Sebastian Saavedra Dragon Dallara-Chevy 1m11.3819s + 1.9595s
26. Ed Carpenter Carpenter Dallara-Chevy 1m11.6747s + 2.2523s
27. Graham Rahal Rahal Dallara-Honda 1m17.9843s + 8.5619s