Hildebrand, Hunter-Reay pace crash-filled Prix View finale

Chris Jones/INDYCAR

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

JR Hildebrand and Ryan-Hunter Reay combined to pace Saturday’s two three-hour test sessions amid a slew of crashes as the Verizon IndyCar Series finished up their Prix View days of testing at Phoenix Raceway.

Hildebrand laid down a scorching 19.0401-second lap with a tow to set the quickest time of the session. His No. 21 Chevrolet’s 193.234-mph speed was good for an unofficial track record, with a no-tow speed of 192.844 mph also besting the track record pace of 192.631 mph (Helio Castroneves, 2016).

Hildebrand’s teammate and Ed Carpenter Racing owner Ed Carpenter finished the session behind Hildebrand in second with a speed of 192.404 mph. A Team Penske trio of Josef Newgarden (191.932), Castroneves (191.668) and Will Power (191.637) completed the top five for Chevrolet, with Mikhail Aleshin, Tony Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud, Sebastien Bourdais and James Hinchcliffe rounding out the top 10.

The first of a handful of shunts from the day came early at the expense of Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi. The Andretti Autosport shoe was driving his No. 98 Honda through Turns 1 and 2 when he lost control of his machine, backing it hard into the outside wall.

The incident was Rossi’s first crash at speed in an IndyCar.

Results, via INDYCAR

The Hondas again showed more strength in the cooler temperatures of the fourth and final test session, with Andretti’s Hunter-Reay pacing the field with a 19.3932-second circuit good for 189.716 mph.

In an exact reversal of the afternoon session, Honda claimed the top five positions in the session.

Bourdais (189.495 mph) led the way for Dale Coyne Racing in second, with Marco Andretti (189.063), Max Chilton (188.929) and Takuma Sato (188.722) each ending their strongest session of the weekend to complete the top five.

The AJ Foyt Racing duo of Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly, Castroneves, Newgarden and Carpenter finished out the top 10.

Three crashes brought the final session to a crawl throughout the three hours, with Graham Rahal, Sato and Hildebrand all suffering shunts with varying degrees of damage.

Results, via INDYCAR

If the two days of testing are any indicator, then the early edge for the Apr. 29 Phoenix Grand Prix might go to Honda, who excelled during the later tests when track temperatures were cool. The event is slated to begin shortly after 9:30 p.m. ET.

However, whether the test translates to the race remains to be seen.

The IndyCar season is set to begin with the Mar. 12 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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