Scott Dixon topped the times in raceday warm-up for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, but the session was overshadowed by a major shunt for Ryan Hunter-Reay who suffered apparent brake failure at Turn 10.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s four-time champion, who will start from the front row, led the session ahead of Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud, but the Andretti Autosport-Honda of Hunter-Reay was left with severe front-end damage.
The #28 car has been one of the worst affected by the braking issues that have struck several cars in the IndyCar field this weekend. On his eighth lap of the half-hour session, Hunter-Reay locked his front wheels under braking for Turn 10. The 2012 series champion tried to scrub off some speed by scraping along the right-hand wall and thumped hard into the tires at the end of the escape road, having taken his hands off the wheel just in time for final impact.
After what was an apparent rear brake failure, Hunter-Reay said, “The pedal just went to the floor – one of the scariest feelings you can have in a racecar… I’m really concerned if this happened in fifth gear heading into Turn 13.”
The session saw other cars visit runoff areas, notably James Hinchcliffe (twice) and Sebastien Bourdais, but neither made impact with anything solid. Hinchcliffe’s Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate Mikhail Aleshin did snag a wall, requiring a rear-wing change.
Spencer Pigot was an encouraging fourth for Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet, after qualifying a career-best 13th, while Graham Rahal finished the session in fifth ahead of Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais and Marco Andretti.