The former Penske driver lapped the course in 52.11s to narrowly shade his former and current teammate Helio Castroneves, with whom he won the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona last month.
Castroneves in turn was just a couple of hundredths faster than the quickest of the Honda-powered Chip Ganassi Racing quartet, Marcus Ericsson, around the 1.7-mile version of the course.
Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing was fastest Chevrolet driver in fourth, just ahead of another Chevy car, the AJ Foyt Racing entry of rookie Kyle Kirkwood.
The Indy Lights champion’s #14 Foyt car had topped the morning times, ahead of Ganassi teammates Scott Dixon and Alex Palou. But he was unable to match his 52.286s in the afternoon and slipped to fifth.
Defending champion Palou was sixth ahead of the second Carpenter car of Conor Daly, while six-time champion Dixon was a mere one-hundredth behind that.
Callum Ilott, who started the last three races of 2021, was an encouraging ninth for Juncos Hollinger Racing.
David Malukas, who finished runner-up in last year’s Lights championship, outpaced by just 0.08s Takuma Sato, his teammate at Dale Coyne Racing. The two-time Indy 500 winner was enjoying his first test with the team, and evolving his working relationship with veteran race engineer Don Bricker.
Jimmie Johnson’s 52.95 in the #48 Carvana-backed Ganassi car was enough to give him 12th fastest time ahead of the other two Foyt cars of Dalton Kellett (#4) and rookie Tatiana Calderon.
Calderon has been signed to race the #11 Foyt car for all road and street courses this year.