Fast Friday Indy 500 Practice

Today was Fast Friday at IMS, in preparation for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. The increase in turbocharger boost produced incredible speeds, with 18 drivers eclipsing the 230 mph barrier. The fastest of them all was Team Penske driver Will Power, with a lap at 232.672 mph. This was the first time in four full practice days that a Chevrolet-powered car was at the top of the speed chart.

Power said, “Even when the car is out of traffic, it was pretty good, pretty solid. I think it’s fast. I think it’s going to be really, really tight for pole. There’s a lot of quick guys out there and I think Honda is right there, too.” He’s right about the Hondas so far, as they took 9 of the top 11 spots on Friday. Five of those nine cars belonged to Andretti Autosport, who has been very fast all week. The question now is, will it translate into qualifying this weekend? There were 1,346 laps turned today, and a total of 8,162 completed in the four practice days this week.

Fast Friday Indianapolis 500 Practice Results

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There were many different aero configurations used today, as teams prepare for qualifying over the next two days. As one team member told me though, “all you really have to do is go over and see what Penske and Ganassi are doing, and then copy that.” There were no incidents on Friday, although Matt Brabham had a nervous moment early in the afternoon where he almost lost control on corner exit. Spencer Pigot got in the most laps (66) of practice today, in the back up car that the team had put together by the end of yesterday’s practice session.

Next up will be morning practice on Saturday from 8-10. Qualifying will then begin at 11:00 and run until 5:50 PM. The top nine drivers will advance to Sunday’s Fast Nine Shootout, which will determine the first three rows, including the Pole sitter for the 100th Indianapolis 500. Coverage of tomorrow morning’s practice will be streamed at RaceControl.IndyCar.com, while ESPN3 will provide coverage from 11 until 3, as ABC will air the final two hours from 4 until 6 PM.

The drawing for qualification order was done this evening, with Tony Kanaan getting the honor to qualify first. Every car will be guaranteed one qualifying attempt on Saturday, provided it is in the qualifying line at its designated time, and follows the proper procedures until it reaches the head of the line. Cars may make multiple attempts throughout the day to better their position. Below is the primary car qualifying order for tomorrow.

  1. Tony Kanaan
  2. Simon Pagenaud
  3. Marco Andretti
  4. Alexander Rossi
  5. Sebastien Bourdais
  6. Josef Newgarden
  7. Oriol Servia
  8. JR Hildebrand
  9. Mikhail Aleshin
  10. Will Power
  11. Helio Castroneves
  12. Bryan Clauson
  13. Matt Brabham
  14. Scott Dixon
  15. Max Chilton
  16. Buddy Lazier
  17. Alex Tagliani
  18. Takuma Sato
  19. Townsend Bell
  20. Gabby Chaves
  21. Spencer Pigot
  22. Charlie Kimball
  23. Ryan Hunter-Reay
  24. Stefan Wilson
  25. Jack Hawksworth
  26. Juan Pablo Montoya
  27. James Hinchcliffe
  28. Carlos Munoz
  29. Sage Karam
  30. Pippa Mann
  31. Ed Carpenter
  32. Conor Daly
  33. Graham Rahal

Practice Photos

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Driver Quotes

Helio Castroneves: “The guys and I found some speed today on the track with the No. 3 Pennzoil Chevrolet. Everyone is working really hard to get the Yellow Submarine back into the spotlight and I can’t thank the team enough for their hard work and support over the past few days. We are in a good position to learn a bit more from today’s session that will help us find the speed we need for tomorrow. I’m looking forward to qualifying this weekend.”

Buddy Lazier: 
“We’re making progress. My guys are really working hard; I couldn’t ask more for a small team. We’re figuring it out quickly, and we anticipate being much quicker tomorrow.”

James Hinchcliffe: “I think we made a lot of progress over the day. Certainly all those times up there are tow times. If you look at the no-tow report, we’re hovering around 10th or 11th, something like that. That’s all, that puts us in the fight for Fast Nine tomorrow. It’s good to get out there and run a big lap at the end. It’s great to see a lot of Hondas running up front certainly. You know, I know that not everybody is showing their hand yet. So tomorrow is going to be interesting to see. I’m really impressed with the speeds. I wasn’t entirely sure we were going to hit numbers like that this month. And it’s awesome. I think that’s one of the fastest laps I’ve ever been around this joint. It’s pretty cool.”

JR Hildebrand: “It was a hectic day, really. We ended up feeling like we needed to kind of change our plan in the middle of the day. We were able to get some speed out of that, which was good, but it made for a busy afternoon. Hopefully we can go back and figure out what’s the best for everybody and be ready to go for tomorrow.”

Max Chilton: “It’s great to get lots of miles in on the track which can take many years to master. I think I’m still one of the highest if not the highest in terms of number of laps completed, which is ideal for me. We’ve been working on qualifying setup and struggled a little bit today, but made two good changes at the end which quickly put us back in the place we wanted to be. I’m excited for qualifying tomorrow and seeing what the Gallagher team can do.”

Scott Dixon: “We’re fairly comfortable with where we are. The Target car feels decent, but the speed we’re looking for maybe isn’t really there right now. To be honest, out of the Chevys, (Will) Power is really the only one in his own league right now. I think out of the top 10 in no-tow speeds, there are only three Chevys. Hopefully things change before qualifying tomorrow, but right now our race is for the top nine.”

Tony Kanaan: “We spent a lot of today working through our qualifying setup and getting the No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet where we want it to be for this weekend. It’s difficult with the wind constantly changing and all 33 cars trying to get a clean qualifying run at once, but we were able to get some qualifying simulations in that gave us solid data to work with. We still need to make some changes tonight to get the car into a position to qualify well, but with all four Ganassi cars bringing the information that they have to the table, I’m confident that we’ll have a good car tomorrow for qualifying.”

Sebastien Bourdais: “It was a decent day for the Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing Team. We tried different levels of downforce to understand and prepare for tomorrow and Sunday. It is going to get hotter and we wanted to at least have some data to know where we want to be for qualifying. The conditions are only going to get worse this weekend. Today there was very little wind, it was overcast and the temperatures were cooler. It doesn’t get any better than that. Maybe we are playing it too safe, but I guess we will see.”

Will Power: “I got a good tow. Even when the car is out of traffic, it was pretty good, pretty solid. I think it’s fast. I think it’s going to be really, really tight for pole. There’s a lot of quick guys out there and I think Honda is right there, too. Yeah, I look forward to it. To get pole here, it’s just got to be your day and it’s got to work out. That’s the way it is around this place. I think it’s the same for the race.”

Takuma Sato: “Today with the higher boost, it bumped up the speed significantly so it was a different dynamic of the car balance. We tried a few things and got very valuable information today, but we weren’t able to put everything together for the speed. We’ll analyze the data tonight and hopefully we’ll go faster tomorrow.”

Graham Rahal: “It was an up and down day. We found some stuff there at the end that helped, but we’re seemingly struggling just for pure speed which is frustrating, but the guys are going to work hard. I think we got the balance a little closer to where it needs to be here at the end. Obviously we got in the 230’s (mph) in the no-tow (lap), which was good, but I think we need to be better than that to reach the top nine, if that’s within reach. There is a lot of work ahead of us. We will find out how we are in the morning in practice. We worked hard today to get us to where we are at the end of the day. Yesterday we had a ton of speed and today was a different animal. I’m not sure what’s going on there but we will put our heads down and focus forward.”

Spencer Pigot: “It was good to get some laps in today after missing out on quite a few the past few days. We spent most of the day running in race trim, trying to make sure everything felt good again. We did the last 45 minutes with the added boost and started to work on qualifying and we started to put a pretty good time together. The car is feeling really good. Again, I can’t thank all of the guys enough for working their butts off to get me back out there today.”

Ed Carpenter: “It was a tough day. I wasn’t thinking we were going to run nearly 50 laps when the day started. We used a few more sets of tires than we had originally planned, but I think it was worthwhile in the end. We were struggling for speed for a while and I feel like we closed the gap a little bit. We’ll just have to work hard overnight tonight and see if we can close the gap the rest of the way and see if we can get up there with my teammates and some of the other faster Chevys.”

Josef Newgarden: “It was a good day. It was hectic with a little bit of sprinkling, so we were not sure if we were going to get the full day in, but luckily we did. We definitely wanted to step through our trim steps. We definitely made progress with all three cars. We got a quick Preferred Freezer car, so hopefully all three of us are going to be fast tomorrow inside the top nine. We’ll do a little bit more work tonight and see where we’re at.”

Simon Pagenaud: “It was good preparation for qualifying today. I think we have the Menards Chevrolet in a happy place. I really think qualifying is going to be really exciting. The car definitely has got some good pace in it. We’re going to have to get everything perfect to pull it off, but I think we’re close. We’ll see how the weather is tomorrow, but if we’re lucky we should have good session.”

Sage Karam: “Today, obviously we got the added boost, and we trimmed out the car. We think we can go a little further on trimming, and we have to look at some stuff overnight, but it was good to feel the boost and get to a trimmed race car and run some pretty fast laps in the Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet. I think we have a little work to do, but we can be right there tomorrow. We’re going to do some things overnight, and man, it’s crazy when you actually get the boost and start trimming at this place. You really respect it every lap riding around here. It gets real tough and that’s where you get your money are those qualifying laps, so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, qualifying for my third Indianapolis 500. I’m confident the car’s going to be good, and I think my Dreyer & Reinbold-Kingdom team is confident that I’ll be able to keep it flat out. And honestly, I think we can put the No. 24 in the top nine if everything runs smoothly.”

Stefan Wilson: “It was a good day in the Driven2SaveLives car. We evaluated the extra boost and started trimming out the downforce, so I got a good feel for that. It got a little hairy towards the end of the day, however that will give us some good direction on what downforce level to run tomorrow. I am just really proud of the entire team. They are working really hard to make the No. 25 Driven2SaveLives car fast. We are all pulling in the same direction, so that is good.”

Carlos Munoz: “We did what we needed to do. It’s hard to judge the speed because of the tows, but I think we’re looking strong on everything. We will see what is going on for tomorrow. The United Fiber & Data car feels good in both race and qualifying trim so that is a good indication. We’ll see tomorrow what we got.”

Marco Andretti:
 “It was a good day for the Snapple car – very productive. Would have been nice to have had a little more at the end of the day, but I’m particularly happy being third in the no-tow speeds. It shows that we are going to, hopefully, play for the top nine, and then on Sunday go for pole.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay: “We’ve had some issues today, just trying to dial this new engine in. It was a tough day, just trying to break it in. We got going there at the end with the DHL car, but I think the conditions got easier at the end… We’ll see tomorrow.”

Townsend Bell: “It was a good day. We were pleased to get through a couple different set up changes on the California Pizza Kitchen/Robert Graham car and get a feel for what we want for tomorrow. It’s nice to see all the Andretti cars at the top of the charts again. I think everyone is feeling good and excited for tomorrow.”

Alex Tagliani:
 “Obviously it was not a good day today for us. We really struggled to find the setup with car trim. We had a couple of tough moments on the track. Not something you really want to see, so we are in a really rough situation right now because we have to change the car and hit it right on the money for our first run tomorrow. It’s going to be difficult, but we’re going to put our heads down and figure something out.”

Jack Hawksworth: “We’ve got a bit of work to do still on the car. The car we have right now is doing a few different things in the corners. I think we found something in the right direction there at the end of the session. We certainly have some ideas for tomorrow so hopefully we can just calm the car down and get it to do just one thing in the corners.”

Charlie Kimball: “We focused on qualifying simulations today. We had three really good runs, making the car better and trimming downforce and drag out of it, so we know what we have when it’s time for qualifications tomorrow. Unfortunately the last couple of runs got interrupted with the yellows, but I’ve got a lot of confidence in the No. 42 car. I know the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing guys have worked so hard all this week, and now they will put in long hours tonight to get the car as ready as possible for tomorrow. I feel good about it and can’t wait to see what qualifying brings.”

Matt Brabham: “We had some ups and downs throughout the day and some side to sides as well. We’re just chipping away and trying to keep it clean. I think we were being a bit conservative and we’re just working our way through it – everyone’s trimming out and trying for their big qualifying setups and we’ve got to do that too, but we’re just slowly dialing out the downforce. We’ve been working through the qualifying simulations with the PIRTEK Team Murray team – we had one big moment, but other than that it was all clean sailing. I’m pretty pleased with how it’s all going and we’ll see what we’ve got tomorrow.”

Alexander Rossi: “It was a difficult day, for some weird reason. We’ve been pretty strong up until today, so we need to look and see why that is. I think, compared to teammates, we are just missing speed for no apparent reason so we need to look at that tonight. This place is tricky; I guess – it changes day to day. So we just have to work hard tonight and come back stronger tomorrow with the NAPA Auto Parts/Curb car.”

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