Fans at Indianapolis Motor Speedway were treated to a thrilling dress rehearsal for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil with this afternoon's practice on the 2.5-mile oval.
A total of 2,705 laps were completed by the 33 entries in the session that featured large groups of cars running together in full race trim, dicing and passing all around the circuit. It was the busiest practice day this year, even though the track was open for only 3.5 hours compared to the six hours available on practice days last week.
Chip Ganassi Racing's Max Chilton finished on top of the speed chart today with a lap of 228.592 mph in the No. 8 Gallagher Honda. Chilton said he spent most of the day in the car "apart from visiting the little boy's room for 10 minutes." He logged 108 laps to further his Indianapolis Motor Speedway education.
"The more laps you do around here, the more you learn," said Chilton, who finished 15th as an Indy 500 rookie in 2016 and will start in that spot in this year's race. "I don't think anyone out there is overly happy with their car in race traffic. You keep trying to learn, trying to get it better.
"In clear air, I seem to be pretty competitive. In dirty air, I started to learn how to time the moves. … This is going to be my second 500. I'm still learning but it's always nice to finish the day at the top of the time sheet."
Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Ed Jones was second on the time sheet in the incident-free session, his best lap at 228.118 mph in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda for Dale Coyne Racing. Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon, the 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner who captured his third Indy 500 pole position in qualifying on Sunday, was third in today's practice with a lap of 227.165 mph in the No. 9 Camping World Honda.
Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud was optimistic after turning the fastest lap of the Chevrolet drivers and fourth best overall at 226.998 mph in the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet. Pagenaud must come from the 23rd starting position in Sunday's 200-lap race.
"We made a lot of changes last night, mostly on obviously bodywork, because it's a different package than qualifying and also a new engine to go for the race," Pagenaud said. "It's a weapon, that engine, to put in there. They put in a new engine that's really strong.
"I felt like my race car was very good last week and we showed it today, I think, in the heat. It actually gets really good in traffic. It can run with people."
Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves was sixth today (226.705 mph), 2014 race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay seventh (226.542), 2016 winner Alexander Rossi ninth (226.376), 2013 winner Tony Kanaan 14th (225.955), two-time winner Juan Pablo Montoya 24th (224.651) and 1996 winner Buddy Lazier 33rd (218.998).
Fernando Alonso, the two-time Formula One champion making his Indianapolis 500 debut this year, ran the second-most laps on the day (122) and finished 12th on the speed chart at 226.147 mph in the No. 29 McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda.
James Davison turned his first laps of the month today in the No. 18 GEICO Honda after being named Sunday to replace injured Sebastien Bourdais for Dale Coyne Racing. Bourdais sustained pelvis and hip fractures in a crash during a qualifying attempt on Saturday.
Davison, who has two previous Indy 500 starts, ran 88 laps with a best speed of 223.670 mph.
"We're running a road course backup car (that has been transformed to superspeedway configuration)," said Davison, the 30-year-old Australian. "We knew we weren't going to be particularly quick, but we just needed to try to get the car to handle well with a lot of cars in front of us obviously. We're starting 33rd.
"We tried a number of things as the day went on. I would say it wasn't the right direction, but we're smarter from it now. We'll just try and go another step forward with the car on Carb Day."
Teams are idle now until the final one-hour practice set for 11 a.m. ET Friday on Miller Lite Carb Day (NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network). The 101st Indianapolis 500 is the sixth of 17 races on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. Race coverage on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network begins at 11 a.m. ET Sunday. Tickets are available at IMS.com.
IMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet, 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, 2017 championship leader): "We didn't have the speed in qualifying. We haven't had the speed last week at all to compete. It was unfortunate and a bit of a mystery. Yesterday, I said the mysteries of Indianapolis sometimes. It's what makes this place legendary, I guess. We made a lot of changes last night, mostly on obviously bodywork, because it's a different package than qualifying, and also a new engine to go for the race. It's a weapon, that engine, to put in there. They put a new engine that's really strong. Chevy did a tremendous job with calibration. I felt like my racecar was very good last week, and we showed it today I think in the heat. It actually gets really good in traffic. It can run with people. I think it's going to be an exciting race. There's definitely a big competition between Honda and Chevy. Honda's done a very strong job, bringing a strong engine and aero. But we have what we need, I think, to have a strong race. Again, it's 500 miles so a lot can happen."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "We got our work in today with the hum by Verizon Chevy. There was a pretty good list of things we wanted to work on. We did a good job on getting through that. The numbers on the chart aren't mind blowing or anything like that, but being fastest necessarily wasn't on our list. If had come organically, then all the better. We'd still like to be a little faster, but we'll work with what we have and maximize it. There's no telling how the race will go, so we'll be prepared to adjust as necessary.
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell Fuel Rewards Team Penske Chevrolet): "The Shell Fuel Rewards Chevy team was able to turn a lot of laps today. Our speed was pretty decent. Our balance and handling was good. It's all about working on race trim right now. Qualifying is behind us and we move to the next thing. I heard today that Hunter-Reay started 19th when he won, so we'll just do the same thing. This race brings so many different things to the table at different times in the event and making adjustments is critical to success."
CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "I think today was definitely our best day of the month. I'm really happy with how we started. The car was really nice in traffic to drive. It felt pretty racy and we were around a lot of fast guys so yeah, it felt really good. We've obviously done our homework for race setup and I think we learned a lot over the last week so hopefully we can just keep tuning on it a little bit for Carb Day."
MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): "I was in the car today for the whole session outside of a short 10-minute window. We just wanted to get the laps in today. I don't think anyone is particularly happy with their car, but that's why I just wanted to get the laps in because the more laps you do the more you learn. We ended up being at the top of the timesheet, which doesn't really mean anything because I got a pretty nice tow. There was one run where I was in completely clean air and Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing just gave me a great car where I was pretty decent. It's all boding well for the race."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Camping World Honda): "We went through some race setups and tried some trim levels depending on the day. We had a few issues with some adjustments that we went the wrong way on. I think all in all to be honest the car was pretty strong, but the only unfortunate part is that there are lots of strong cars."
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): "We got in a lot of good track time today and we were able to work through a lot of things we hadn't had a chance to get to during practice last week with the spotty conditions. As a team, I think we struggled with finding front grip, but by the end of the session, I was feeling pretty good about where we were. I'm happy with our race car and I'm ready to get the No. 10 NTT Data Honda back on track on Carb Day and the race on Sunday."
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 11 Juncos Racing Chevrolet): "We didn't have a great day. I feel like we're really struggling with the balance of the Juncos Racing car in traffic. That's something that's going to be very important in the race, so we have a lot of stuff to look at and improve on for Friday's practice."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "We finished the day strong in the Verizon Chevrolet. Like everyone else, we had a list of things we needed to get done – different things for different situations. At the end there, we were able to get out there and run. It was pretty good. We've had great balance all along. The speed has been a little up and down, but mostly up for us. Everyone is still working their tails off to make the car as good as possible. As I've thought all along, we'll have a pretty good race car."
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "It was a hard day, up and down, it didn't feel good. The grip of the car was the same as the last day. One good thing is that Conor's car felt good, so there is a good comparison there that we can use. Next stop is Carb Day so we'll see and check that everything is good and go to the race."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak 'n Shake Honda): "The Steak 'n Shake car seems competitive in race trim. Would I like to be better and keep improving it? Maybe a little bit but it's hard to say. On the last set of tires I think we missed the COP levels a little bit and struggled with some understeer but overall it seems pretty close. I feel pretty good so we will just have to focus on the one hour practice on Friday, tune it in a little bit and go racing."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 16 Manitowoc Honda): "We were running to see how the car was in heavy traffic, and to be honest, I was really happy right away. I had just discussed with my engineer Tom (German) that if everything went well with the next run, we were going to park the Manitowoc car because I was very happy with it. The engine went but it's not too bad of a situation. I'm going to get a fresh engine for the race and it will hopefully be as good, if not better, than the one I had."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 AFS Chevrolet): "I'm very happy with this session to be honest. The No.17 AFS/Juncos Racing car feels right where I want it to be. We did a great simulation out there and we're doing what we need to do. We just have a couple of things that we can still improve on before Carb Day. I'm looking forward to getting back at it and show what we are capable of doing. I think the pit stops were amazing. Everybody did amazing, it was the perfect simulation, so I'm looking forward to Friday."
ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): "It was a good day. We set down a good lap,and at the same time, we had a really good car in traffic. We were able to pass and get runs on people, which was the objective of today. I think there's still some work we can do to make the car better but it's a great point to be at going into Carb Day."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "I'm happy with the way the Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet handles. I still think we're one of the fastest Chevys. It's still hard with the Hondas in traffic, they have something we don't. It's slightly concerning for race day, but we'll take a look and run as trimmed as we can. I'm happy with the car, the team has done a good job and we're getting what we can out of it. We're competitive. We just didn't get a tow today, so the pylon didn't light up."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet): "Today went well; obviously, everyone is doing race prep at this stage. Everyone looks to find their strengths and weaknesses relative to each other. It's harder to know today with the speed the Hondas showed again and considering the different programs that everyone is on. I think we'll have our work cut out for us like you do every year. With some good stuff from Chevrolet and our ECR guys in the pits, hopefully we can keep the Preferred Freezer car up front."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevrolet): "We've got a couple more things to dial in before race day on the Fitzgerald Glider Kits Chevy. I've felt we've had good speed throughout. It didn't really show today, but we had a couple of other things to experiment with. This isn't a full-time team, but it's coming together and we can just go after it in the race."
SAGE KARAM (No. 24 DRR Mecum Auctions Chevrolet): "It was a pretty good day. We made some good strides. Our car isn't exactly where we want it yet. We still have some work to do. But, the car is pretty good for a baseline coming out of qualifying. Pretty pleased with today. P8 is good. I felt pretty decent in traffic. It seems everyone is struggling with passing so far. Now, we just got to improve the car a little bit more. We did some pit stop practice at the end. The guys were awesome. It's obvious they have been practicing. Everything went smooth today and now we're ready for carb day."
ZACH VEACH (No. 40 Indy Women in Tech Championship Chevrolet): "Just extremely relieved to figure out the problem that we had through qualifying. Earlier this morning, it appeared that we had a damaged set of dampers on the car. Everything we would do, we would have no idea of its influence to the car. So as soon as we changed the dampers that we thought were an issue, they came back to life. It actually started handling like a race car should. So we're about three days behind unfortunately with everything that's happened, from a couple issues to our crash on Friday. We're behind the eight-ball a little bit, but we're working extremely hard to catch that up for Sunday. We're gonna have 500 miles to learn a lot next Sunday."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 44 Lazier Racing-Stalk It-Tivoli Lodge Chevrolet): "We did a lot of work on our Chevy car today for race day setup. Our speeds aren't where they should be but we knew that we didn't have the right gears in the car. Knowing that, we know that alters the speed but we still got our work done, and we made a lot of progress today. I think we will have a good race car. We will be a lot more competitive than it looks."
PIPPA MANN (No. 63 Susan G. Komen Honda): "We feel like we're improving the No. 63 Dale Coyne Racing car step by step. I just wish we had a bit more practice time. We have a one hour session on Carb Day left to get things right. That said, we seem to be getting closer and I am confident that with my engineer and crew we can take another step forward on Carb Day and be ready for race day."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): "I think we got a lot accomplished today with the No. 83 Tresiba Honda. This practice session is always productive – it's your last chance for a full practice to make big changes and still be able to test them out on track. It's not as easy on Carb Day when everyone is trying to cram everything they need to get done in a one hour session. Early in the session we were having some issues with understeer and running in traffic, but we made some changes that corrected the problem. Overall the car felt good on long runs. The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing guys have given me a good racecar, so I'm anxious to get back out there on Carb Day for the last time."
|24||22||Juan Pablo Montoya||40.062||0.6906||0.0135||43||55||224.651||Chevy|