Wilson jumps the curbs. (LAT photo)
A late flying lap from Justin Wilson earned the Briton the honors in a stop-start second IndyCar practice session on the Houston street circuit.
Wilson jumped ahead of earlier pacesetter Will Power with a 1m04.423s effort, a time that put him 0.3 seconds clear of the Penske driver. Whether Power or anyone else could have improved further remains an open question after his teammate Helio Castroneves spun at Turn 2 and brought the red flags out with less than two minutes left.
"It's a tough track, and it's really bumpy. But when the grip comes up, it feels good," said Wilson. "Once the car starts to work around here, it's a lot of fun, but it's tough. It's really physical, and you're bouncing around and you're trying to land in the right spot and get on the brakes and try not to lose one end or the other.
"This morning, I lost the rear on the turn in to Turn 2 or 3 and looped it around. We can see a lot of that, and it's going to continue to throughout the race. It's so hard to keep it on that knife edge. I'm really pleased with the car that Dale Coyne Racing has given me. Hopefully we can keep it up tomorrow and have a good qualifying."
The Turn 2 curbs proved to be a trouble spot right through the afternoon. Castroneves' incident was a repeat of a similar incident he had had earlier in the session, which brought out the second of five red flags.
Ed Carpenter also had two red flags to his credit courtesy of spins at Turn 2, and James Hinchcliffe triggered the other when his car picked the same section to come to a halt. The Canadian's embarrassment was reduced by the fact that at least his plight was not self-inflicted, with his Andretti car having suffered a battery problem.