Indy Thursday Practice Ends

Practice is over for today at IMS, and with it, the end of race configuration tweaking for the next couple of days. Today's fastest lap was set early by Gabby Chaves, barely edging out Townsend Bell and Carlos Munoz. However, the real story are the times posted by cars not caught in a tow: Will Power, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Alexander Rossi all broke the sub-40 second mark, at over 225 mph.

Tomorrow the teams get more boost — probably around 50 hp — and probably specialized aero bits for most. Those making a Pole run will soon make themselves known, while the rest will probably be content to just safely make the show. Look for speeds to be 2 mph faster tomorrow, with a lot less practice in packs.

The biggest story of the month so far is the re-emergence of Honda. Today, the top 4 times, and 12 of the top 16, were Honda powered. Honda teams aren't ready to celebrate yet — they're all convinced that the Chevy teams are sand bagging — but at least we don't have a repeat of last year's Chevy dominance (so far).

The only cloud on that horizon is that Ryan Hunter-Reay's engine let loose during practice today, and Jack Hawksworth had engine trouble yesterday. But beyond that, Honda teams are strong — heck, Pippa Mann got her Honda into 10-fastest on the day.

The disappointment of the month might now go to AJ Foyt's crew. Hawksworth was late getting onto the track due to engine woes, and finally got within half a second or so of the top time — still only good enough for 28th. Takuma Sato has also struggled, and was only a tick faster than Hawksworth. Alex Tagliani was fastest of the team, some 2/10 of a second faster than Sato, posting a 13th-fastest speed.

Back to the question of passing… We asked Dale Coyne about passing with this year's configuration. He wasn't ready to say that passing was impossible, but he did admit (as did Sam Schmidt) that the Honda cars were leaving bigger aero holes for the cars behind them, and that the Chevy's were leaving a wake of "dirty" air. Coyne said that was by design, the defensive part of aero — that you don't make it easy for anyone to pass you.

Conor Daly was having none of this though. He remarked that he'd been part of a 3-wide group, and he didn't have any trouble passing. So maybe the question, as they say, remains (pun intended) up in the air.

Tim Wohlford, reporting from Indy

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