O’Ward tops Carb Day speeds at Indy

While Rossi was only 3rd quick, in traffic he passed at will

Mexican Arrow McLaren SP Chevy driver Pato O’Ward turned the fastest lap on Carb Day Friday before Sunday’s Indy 500 at 225.355 mph.  The cars won’t be back on the track now until the race.

“I think it’s just been really important to try and get the best car under us for Race Day,” O’Ward said. “I think traffic running is going to be key. It’s going to be my first ‘500.’ From just feeling out practice and everything, it’s so important to have a car that’s able to follow closely and be able to get runs on people, ultimately move forward instead of moving backward.”

2008 Indy 500 winner and five-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon was second fastest on the 2.5-mile oval as teams worked on their race setups, with a best lap of 224.646 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Dixon will start second Sunday.

“We had to go through our front wings today just to make sure they’re all close in case we need one in the race,” Dixon said. “We lost some front grip, and we’re trying to see if the teammates had the same situation. Apart from that, the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda felt really good and really fast. It pulls up wicked fast. Hopefully that’s true when it comes to the race.”

2016 “500” winner Alexander Rossi was third overall at 224.599 in the No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts/AutoNation Honda. He starts ninth Sunday.

While some Andretti Autosport drivers struggled today, Alexander Rossi was very fast in traffic and was so happy with his car he quit the 2-hour practice session early.

Fernando Alonso was impressed – he came over the radio and said “I think Rossi is the man to beat on Sunday.”

Takuma Sato, winner of the 2017 Indy 500, ended up fourth at 224.580 in the No. 30 Panasonic/PeopleReady Honda. He will start third Sunday, on the front row with Dixon and pole sitter Marco Andretti.

Arrow McLaren SP placed two cars and rookie drivers in the top five, as Oliver Askew was fifth at 224.128 in the team’s No. 7 Chevrolet entry. Askew starts 21st in the 33-car field Sunday.

Two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso was 23rd Friday at 222.680 in the No. 66 Ruoff Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. Alonso will start 26th Sunday as he attempts to become just the second driver to win the “Triple Crown” of motorsports with victories in the Indianapolis 500, Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans.

All the top times were set with a tow as drivers worked traffic on their race setups.

Polesitter Marco Andretti really struggled and was only 28th out of 33.

Helio Castroneves ended up 17th at 223.093 in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet as he will try Sunday to become just the fourth four-time winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Castroneves will start 28th. If he triumphs, it will tie the all-time race record for the deepest starting spot of the race winner, a mark set by Ray Harroun in the inaugural race in 1911 and matched by Louis Meyer in 1936.


FERNANDO ALONSO (No. 66 Ruoff Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “It was the last opportunity to test the last few items we had on our list. Some of them were OK, and some of them we will not be keeping for the race. Now we have a more or less clear idea of what we want. Sunday is a completely different thing, and it’s supposed to be a bit hotter, so we will try to adapt to the conditions. There’s nothing more to test on the table, so it’s race time.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda): “Today we found a few things we didn’t like in the car, which is good and bad because we found it out before Sunday. We ticked a lot of boxes on a semi-difficult day, but I think we are still in a good position for the race on Sunday.“

OLIVER ASKEW (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “It was good. Probably the best I have felt in traffic. I think we are really going in the right direction and made the right changes over the mid-week break. The No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet felt good throughout the stint, and I passed a few different people. Race Day is going to be a different animal, but I’m sure we are ready to react to the challenges and have a good day.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 United States Space Force Chevrolet): “It’s finally here. It’s time to race. We definitely have some work cut out for us with where we are starting. It’s going to take a lot of hard work with a balance of aggression and patience. Passing is a possibility, but it is a lot harder than in the past. We’re going to have to be opportunities. I am still confident that we’ll find out way to the front, but it’s going to be a battle out there. I am looking forward to the drop of the green, getting everyone on equal footing, on the same tires and running full stints. We’ll see where we are in the U.S. Space Force Chevrolet.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet): “Good strong finish for the No. 3 Pennzoil Chevrolet for Team Penske here at Carb Day. We definitely have great pit stops. Everybody seemed to be in sync, and right now we just have to play the game, stay clean and go to the front.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “We just finished up our last practice of the week heading into the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, and I’d say that the Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet feels pretty good in race trim. The track has changed quite a bit since practice last Sunday, so we spent most of today’s practice fine-tuning some things with the car and working on our in and out laps, trying to find some time there. The guys did a great job during pit stop practice getting me in and out quickly. I’m really looking forward to the green flag on Sunday and hopefully working my way up through the field quickly.”

CONOR DALY (No. 47 United States Air Force Chevrolet): “I am definitely excited for the race. This is what we work all of these day for. The guys have done a good job putting together the U.S. Air Force Chevrolet. Hopefully, we can put all the right pieces together for a long 500 miles. We’ll see what happens in the end.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda):  “We had to go through our front wings today just to make sure they’re all close in case we need one in the race. We lost some front grip, and we’re trying to see if the teammates had the same situation. Apart from that, the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda felt really good and really fast. It pulls up wicked fast. Hopefully that’s true when it comes to the race. It definitely looks like there are some good cars out there and some not so good cars, so hopefully we’re on the right end of the grid. I think there has always been, especially these last few years, an underlying tone of ‘it’s hard to pass,’ which it was in that camp last year. This year’s been a lot easier for us. I think a lot of credit goes out to HPD and Honda. We’re proud to be powered by them. They have done a lot to help that, but also I think we’ve made a lot of changes on the team and the car and that’s helped that, as well. It’s good to see.”

MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I think it was a really good last practice session. We focused on trying to be in traffic all the time and for me to get the best feeling in the car going into the race. I felt like we made some good improvements throughout the session. We really pushed on and tried to do as many laps as possible. I think we did two full-tank stints, so that’s really good for Sunday to know how the car behaves. Overall, I’m really happy, and the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda is feeling good. We’re ready to go racing.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “We tried a few things today with the SealMaster Honda and made a big improvement over practice last Sunday. I’m a lot more comfortable behind the wheel, and we can actually pass some cars. I believe we have a good car for the race Sunday.”

JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda): “Today we really tried to work on our car in traffic. It was a big improvement from where we were, and if we take that car into the race on Sunday, then I think we’re going to be where we hoped to be. Naturally a big thanks to everybody – Meyer Shank Racing and Honda for continuing to work hard this week. It would have been easy for us to take a chill week, but we worked hard and hopefully that will pay dividends on Sunday.”

COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Honda): “Practice today was all right. We made some good changes. I’ve felt confident with the car over the past two weeks, just want to look through the data again and see if we need to make a few changes. I’m looking forward to Sunday and getting the Gleaners Food Bank Honda up front.”

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 67 DRR Salesforce Chevrolet): “We worked hard today on in and out laps and pit stops, as those will help us gain spots in the race. We are getting closer to what will work best on the car on Race Day. We would like to have a car that is in our window to make adjustments throughout the race. Today were great track conditions. I’m not sure that Sunday will be this cool. We have run in track temps over 120 and 125 degrees. So, we know what our cars can do in that heat. If Sunday is hotter, it doesn’t concern me since we ran well in the hotter condition. I hope some guys are overly-confident with their cars today because a hotter track could affect them more than us. Overall, we learned more again today with our race car.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 29 Genesys Honda): “A solid day for the 29 Genesys Honda. We weren’t super happy in race trim during practice on Sunday after qualifying, so we leaned on our teammates a little bit and came up with a setup that really worked well for us. It’s always nerve-wracking knowing that it’s the last chance to tune it before the big race, but it’s the best the car’s felt in traffic, so I’m cautiously optimistic.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “The 28 DHL boys got a lot done on this Carb Day. I think everybody understands now that it’s pretty difficult running in heavy traffic. We got through our list, and we’ll try to piece it together from here. We’ll make the changes on the car and let her set sail.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Pretty good day, I mean, beautiful day out here. Typical Carb Day. We ran through some tires, pit stops with the guys, checked if everything in the car was OK. The ABC Supply Chevy feels as good as it did last Sunday, so showtime in 48 hours.”

SAGE KARAM (No. 24 DRR WIX Filters Chevrolet): “We rolled out with a bit more understeer than we had on Sunday. We just overshot our setups this morning. We went back to the garage then and put on last Sunday’s setup and felt a lot better at the end of the practice. I was able to run up on people and stay with them. Toward the end, I got in the gray and skimmed the wall in Turn 4. It didn’t do much to the car. We ran through some fuel settings and different mixtures to prepare for Sunday. We practiced in and out laps and had some excellent pit stops from the WIX Filters crew. As usual, they will help me pick up spots in the pits. They are always able to gain two or three positions on pit stops. I felt comfortable getting into the pit box, and the crew is fast and consistent. I’m sure that will be the case Sunday, too.”

DALTON KELLETT (No. 41 K-Line USA / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “That’s a wrap on Carb Day. We just finished up our two-hour practice—the last practice before the big race. The car feels really good. We did some balance checks and two really long runs. On the first long run, we felt pretty competitive; we did an aero sweep on the second run and came out a bit shy on our COP (center of pressure) and we were struggling a bit, so it’s important that we keep on top of that for the race and adapt as the conditions change. Even today at 11 o’clock it was quite a bit cooler than when we finished up at 1. So, we’re going to have to adapt the car and make changes during the stops, and that’s going to be key to being fast at the finish. I can’t thank the A.J. Foyt Racing crew enough — they gave me a great car. The No. 41 K-Line USA Chevy feels great, and I’m excited for 11 rows of three going into Turn 1 in a couple days!”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 4 Tresiba AJ Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet): “Well firstly, I just want to say we miss the best fans in racing. It’s not the same. It’s a very different energy here on Carb Day. It was nice to get a good two hours of running. The No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet came out pretty good this morning. We kept making it better, making it better. I’m pretty happy with the race car. I think we’re going to clean it and let her sleep until Sunday because we’ve got a lot of work to do on Sunday starting 29th , but there are 500 miles. The guys did some practice pit stops, and the guys have been great in pit lane all year, and they were good today. I’m looking forward to Sunday’s race. There’s something special about being in those 11 rows of three starting ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’ being a part of the 104th Running. It’s just an incredible feeling even if the energy is very different.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Shell V-Power Nitro Team Penske Chevrolet): “I think the Shell V-Power Nitro Chevrolet is pretty good, to be honest with you. You don’t want to be overconfident, but I feel cautiously optimistic. It’s been fast in traffic and felt really fast today. I think Team Chevy has a really good package for us for the race. So, feeling very confident with what they are bringing. Carb Day is one of those days if you need it, you use it all. If you don’t, you take it easy and not use the car up. It felt like the second of those for us. I’m optimistic. I think we have a shot. It would be amazing to win this race. It is so special; you just grow to love it more. I’ve been so fortunate. This is my ninth ‘500.’ I would love to win this race. But you can’t force her. If it is going to happen, it is going to happen. But to win one for The Captain in these trying times, we are going to do our best to make it a great race.”

PATO O’WARD (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “I think we are ready for the challenge ahead. It was a very positive day in terms of how we were feeling in traffic, passing cars, and playing around in five-, 10-, and 15-car trains. I think it is going to be very interesting to see how the cars will behave on Sunday in 10-15 degree hotter temps. I think we are ready, and we ended the day very happy with how everything fell and felt. So, we are looking forward to Race Day and going forward.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “It’s always going to be about balance. Chevy has got it tremendous in race trim. We are equal to the competition, and we have plenty of speed in race trim. It’s going to be all about finding the balance in your race car the entire day. The wind might change, and when the wind shifts, you might find yourself good in (Turn) 2 and bad in (Turn) 4. The cars are very sensitive this year, much more than last year. So, balance is going to be everything. It’s also going to be about downforce, no question. We are going to have to run close to people, and we need downforce. So, the question is going to be how much. For me, it is going to be about balance. We are going to have to be aggressive from the start to pass people to get clean air.”

ALEX PALOU (No. 55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda): “My first Carb Day felt awesome. I was missing being in the car. We had a full week of practice last week and then we had all these days off, so I was ready to get back in the car. Practice went well. The car felt even better than last week, which is crazy to think because last week I was super happy and now I’m even happier. I was able to do more overtakes today in a single run than last week in all the free practices. I think we’re looking strong. I’m feeling really comfortable with the car. We were able to practice a lot of pit stops, not just for the crew but also for me to practice coming in and going out and stopping on the marks. We checked all the boxes of what we wanted to do. Everything looks positive, so now we’ll try our best to win the race on Sunday.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 45 Hy-Vee RLL with Citrone/Buhl Autosport Honda): “The final session before the big race was pretty tricky. At the beginning, the car was a little bit different than we expected. I don’t know if the track just changed a lot since Sunday or what, but by the end of the session we definitely got our Hy-Vee / Embrace Pittsburgh Honda feeling a lot better, so we will take a look at what our teammates did and see what they found and put together a great car for Sunday hopefully.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon 5G Edge Team Penske Chevrolet): “We were quite far off at the beginning of today. I was worried that we weren’t going to find anything. Then we found some stuff late in the session, and hopefully we have the Verizon 5G Edge Chevrolet in the window where it needs to be. Obviously, we are starting back in the pack, so I tried to run around cars and see how it is going to be. We have really good pit stops, great guys on the car. I think that is going to be our game, with strategy and our pit stops is where we are going to make time up. But it’s every man for himself. It is the Indy 500, but if we can be mistake-free, we can get ourself to the top five.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals Honda): “It was an interesting day for us in the United Rentals car. When we started off, it was a pretty big struggle for us, but our guys stayed extremely focused and committed, and we found a really good race car at the end. It’s going to be interesting. There is a lot of different downforce levels and a lot of different things to watch for this race. I think it’s going to be a tricky one. There were a lot of guys close to hitting the fence each and every lap, so buckle up: This is definitely going to be an exciting one. But we feel good about the No. 15 car, so let’s see how we do.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It was a difficult session. I didn’t feel the same confidence as I had on Sunday in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda. We’re starting over a little bit, so hopefully we can just nail it on Race Day. That was a tough session. There was a lot of weird moments, both loose and pushy. We just have to sit and really think about what happened there because that’s not where we want to start the race.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / Auto Nation Honda): “It was a pretty good day. We got through everything we wanted to, and I think we are in a decent place with the car. This place is tricky -the track conditions change from day to day. I think from where we ended Sunday afternoon to today, we kept a pretty similar car, so if we can do there here in 48 hours, I think we will be pretty happy.“

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Panasonic/PeopleReady Honda): “I think it was a nice Carb Day. We tried a couple of things we wanted to double-check, and we got what we want. I believe we now are ready. The three of us will now debrief and check the data. The guys did a great job. I can’t wait until Sunday.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “Luckily, we resolved the speed issue that hurt us during qualifying, so that’s not a concern. We had a really, really good car on Sunday and we didn’t change much, but the track definitely was a little dirty today. At the beginning of the session, we were a little worried, but by the end, we had it all sorted out. I can’t wait to get the 26 Gainbridge car back out on track for the race Sunday!”

RINUS VEEKAY ( No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “We have a really strong car going into the race. I found out that passing is going to be tough. Track position is going to be important, but I think have the right people around to guide me through the race. With this car, we have a shot at winning! That’s a lot to say as a rookie, but it’s exciting!”

Carb Day Test Speeds

Pos No Name Time Diff Gap Speed Engine Team
1 5 Pato O’Ward 39.937 –.—- –.—- 225.355 Chevy Arrow McLaren SP
2 9 Scott Dixon 40.063 0.1262 0.1262 224.646 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
3 27 Alexander Rossi 40.072 0.1346 0.0084 224.599 Honda Andretti Autosport
4 30 Takuma Sato 40.075 0.1379 0.0033 224.580 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
5 7 Oliver Askew 40.156 0.2188 0.0809 224.128 Chevy Arrow McLaren SP
6 26 Zach Veach 40.186 0.2493 0.0305 223.957 Honda Andretti Autosport
7 1 Josef Newgarden 40.221 0.2840 0.0347 223.764 Chevy Team Penske
8 8 Marcus Ericsson 40.232 0.2956 0.0116 223.700 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
9 60 Jack Harvey 40.243 0.3061 0.0105 223.641 Honda Meyer Shank Racing
10 55 Alex Palou 40.256 0.3189 0.0128 223.570 Honda Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh
11 4 Charlie Kimball 40.270 0.3332 0.0143 223.491 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
12 29 James Hinchcliffe 40.276 0.3386 0.0054 223.461 Honda Andretti Autosport
13 88 Colton Herta 40.280 0.3436 0.0050 223.433 Honda Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport
14 22 Simon Pagenaud 40.283 0.3462 0.0026 223.419 Chevy Team Penske
15 20 Ed Carpenter 40.285 0.3477 0.0015 223.410 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
16 21 Rinus VeeKay 40.289 0.3522 0.0045 223.385 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
17 3 Helio Castroneves 40.342 0.4050 0.0528 223.093 Chevy Team Penske
18 47 Conor Daly 40.357 0.4201 0.0151 223.010 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
19 14 Tony Kanaan 40.359 0.4220 0.0019 222.999 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
20 41 Dalton Kellett 40.368 0.4307 0.0087 222.951 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
21 18 Santino Ferrucci 40.394 0.4569 0.0262 222.806 Honda Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan
22 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 40.407 0.4705 0.0136 222.731 Honda Andretti Autosport
23 66 Fernando Alonso 40.417 0.4798 0.0093 222.680 Chevy Arrow McLaren SP
24 12 Will Power 40.435 0.4983 0.0185 222.578 Chevy Team Penske
25 15 Graham Rahal 40.512 0.5748 0.0765 222.158 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
26 45 Spencer Pigot 40.579 0.6422 0.0674 221.789 Honda RLL with Citrone/Buhl Autosport
27 10 Felix Rosenqvist 40.600 0.6630 0.0208 221.675 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
28 98 Marco Andretti 40.666 0.7293 0.0663 221.314 Honda Andretti Herta with Marco & Curb-Agajanian
29 51 James Davison 40.744 0.8075 0.0782 220.889 Honda Dale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware Racing/Byrd/Belardi
30 59 Max Chilton 40.786 0.8488 0.0413 220.666 Chevy Carlin
31 67 JR Hildebrand 40.960 1.0231 0.1743 219.727 Chevy Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
32 24 Sage Karam 41.022 1.0848 0.0617 219.396 Chevy Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
33 81 Ben Hanley 41.288 1.3506 0.2658 217.984 Chevy DragonSpeed USA