IndyCar: Sato keeps Ganassi Honda on top on Fast Friday at Indy

As air and track temperatures dropped at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday afternoon, combined with an increase in turbo boost resulted in huge speed jumps as IndyCar Series teams prepared for this weekend’s Indianapolis 500 qualifying.

Four drivers exceeded 233 mph in four-lap qualifying simulations, most of them in the final hour of practice on the 2.5-mile oval. Two-time race winner Takuma Sato uncorked a 233.413-mph effort to lead the way. Defending race winner Marcus Ericsson was next at 233.133. Both drive for Chip Ganassi Racing and use Honda engines.

“It was on edge, for sure,” Sato said, who also had the top single lap of 234.753 early in the session.

Team Penske had the next two best efforts: Will Power (233.070) and Josef Newgarden (233.066).

Marco Andretti, driving his no 98 KURL/Curb entry, was second fastest with a speed of 234.202 mph.  The long-time Andretti Autosport driver is an Indy 500 only entry.

Rinus Veekay was able to get a speed of 234.171mph out of his No 21 Bitnile Chevrolet today.

The defending Race winner, Marcus Ericsson, put up a time of 234.029 in his No 8 Huski Ice Spritz entry to make him fourth fastest for a single lap.


Takuma Sato, No. 11 Deloitte Honda
“It’s nice to be this quick, this fast, and working with my team and teammates. We’ve done fantastic preparation and I believe had the fastest practice lap in 26 years. That is entirely impressive with the current package. Our group and HPD is working extremely hard. This was my first time with the boost with Chip Ganassi Racing and my eyeballs went big on that lap in the morning. We’re all working together to find the limit and find consistency with how we drive the tire with the degradation. I love working through the process and thank you to Chip Ganassi Racing for the fantastic opportunity. This is still only a test day, but it’s nice to see the car working so well.”

Marcus Ericsson, No. 8 Huski Ice Spritz Honda
“Pretty happy with today, although I just struggled to get those four laps. The team did a great job to make some changes. We had to analyze a bit of data and video. We then came out here at the end and got a really solid run in. Still a bit of drop-off but we were right up there again.”

Scott Dixon, No. 9 PNC Bank Honda

“It was a bit mixed today, to be honest. A couple of unknowns, but we’ll keep working at it for tomorrow.”

Alex Palou, No. 10 American Legion Honda
“The car has felt very good since the beginning of the day with the boost. It’s one of the best feelings that we have in INDYCAR and that’s when the boost is so high. It seems that we have close to the speed that we had last year, so hoping for the same tomorrow for qualifying. It’s going to be tight to get into the Fast 12 for sure, but hopefully we can get all four cars through there.”

Colton Herta, No. 26 Gainbridge Honda
“We just wrapped up Fast Friday and we had a fairly decent day. We finished ninth and our four-lap averages were pretty decent too. I’m happy with the Gainbridge Honda going into tomorrow.”

Kyle Kirkwood, No. 27 AutoNation Honda
“Fast Friday is done and we had a really good day. The No. 27 AutoNation Honda was at the top of the time charts all day long. I’m really comfortable with the car – probably more comfortable than most of the other guys out there. Conditions are different today than they will be tomorrow, so we’re going to have to adjust to that. I couldn’t ask for a better team behind me to be able to do that, so we’re looking forward to tomorrow. I definitely feel like we have a good top-12 campaign, so hopefully we’re running again on Sunday.”

Romain Grosjean No. 28 DHL Honda
“I did a couple of runs today and the No. 28 DHL Honda feels good. We are optimizing everything we’ve got for tomorrow. Conditions will be different, but I think we are going to be able to extract the best of what we got. Then the only question mark will be – is she fast or not?”

Devlin de Francesco, No. 29 Andretti Honda
“Fast Friday is done, and we seem to still not have the speed that we originally thought we were going to have. I know the crew is working hard, so hopefully we can go through some things and find some magic tomorrow. We drew 19th in the Qualifying Draw, and I think that’s good with the expected conditions.”

Marco Andretti, No. 98 Andretti Kulr/Curb Honda
“Not a bad day – a little underwhelmed with the no-tow speeds of the car. We got a balance check at the end of the day, which was a validation of what we needed to do. We just need to maximize it tomorrow and the speed is going to be what it’s going to be”

Rinus VeeKay, No. 21 Chevrolet at Ed Carpenter Racing:

“I think in the first run, I wasn’t very happy with the balance. It was just not good for me. We changed it up in the second run. I asked the ECR team, and they delivered. Really, for us, it’s great. But anyway, very happy.

On a day like today, when you’re happy early in the day but you never want to get complacent, right? What is that balance with the team? How do you extract what you can with the team?

“It’s small changes at this point. The team’s base, where we start with the start set up, it’s so close to perfect. We did a few balance checks on qual downforce, basically, with the lower boost. We had to make a little tweak but we’re right there. We might make small little adjustments for the temperature tomorrow, but I think it’s just going to be all fine. You don’t want to take too much risk today.”

Pato O’Ward, No. 5 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:

”Happy Fast Friday for us today. We did three outings, and every outing we just got better and better. I think we’re in a good spot in terms of balance. Tomorrow we’ll be ready to go out into qualifying, have a solid first run and hopefully that’s all we need to do. If not, we’ll go back out and make sure we get this thing into the top 12 to fight it out on Sunday.”

Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Chevrolet at Team Penske:

“It was a good final run. We had a really disastrous first run. You always come out of the gate feeling really excited for today. The boost is up, and it was a bad first run. We just missed the balance. Came back, and had a pretty good second run. We knew we really needed to do one more and get it really right. I felt like the Shell car was pretty solid. Look, it’s hard to say today. I think today indications look better today than they did on Fast Friday last year. This is going to be more of a fight to get into the top 12 this year. When you look at the cluster of people that are really tight together, it’s much trickier than it looked like last year. We gotta be really on it. We have to nail our run tomorrow. I think the first run is always critical depending upon where you draw. So far, so good. I think Team Chevy has done a stellar job as always, and I hope we can have a good fight to get this into the Sunday show.”

On sticker tires, or bailing on the second run – did it turn into a balance check?

“We needed a balance check on an additional config for tomorrow. It’s good to be able to get that in, especially depending upon what you’re going to do in the morning tomorrow. It’s just nice to get that final balance check on a different look. That’s what today is for. We tried to keep the miles the car and we didn’t have to run too much. I think we got all of the information we needed, which was critical.”

On what happened in T2…

“It was that last lap. I wasn’t flat that last lap, and I think our average could have been what we showed there. We can fix it. It was just a small detail, and the details are going to add up. I think tomorrow is going to be obviously very different complexity with the temperature. But we’ll just clean it up more and be that much better.”

Conor Daly, No. 20 Chevrolet at Ed Carpenter Racing:

“Our first run I thought was good. I think if we would have finished it out, we probably would be P2 or P3 or close to there. Maybe just two spots up. It’s insane how a couple of degrees of track temp and things change. Our entire balance shifted with a quarter-turn of front wing. It’s insane how much that does. I think we know we’re fast. Rinus’s (VeeKay) car is extremely fast, really impressed with what they can do. Thankfully we have that data to look out. It’ll be interesting to see how we progress. All three cars are, we’re close. We’re all similar in what we want whereas last year I would say I was on a bit of an island myself. So, thankfully I’m kind of following the fast guys here in qualifying.”

On weather in qualifying tomorrow…

“It’s going to be colder tomorrow. Colder is faster. If we can go out in the morning, it’ll be like 60 degrees when we go out. It’s much hotter today. We’ll see. Honestly, the weather we know here can always be a crapshoot. Whatever you get, you get.”

Felix Rosenqvist, No. 6 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:

“Fast Friday done. I felt pretty sporty, I have to say. The last run we did we got everything together with the balance and we made some good changes. We had some minor issues before noon today that we kind of solved, so it was nice to get a clean run before qualifying. It looked pretty quick, as well. I think we’re third-quickest on the four-lap average, so we’ll take that. It’s probably better than we thought we would be. So far, I’m happy.”

Alexander Rossi, No. 7 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:

”A very solid day. I think we’re somewhere in the top five on the four-lap average. This is always a weird place because you can end happy and then the conditions are going to change tomorrow, so you don’t really know. The car is good. The car has been good all week, so we just have to keep staying on top of the changing conditions. Hopefully we get a good draw tonight, and that will make our lives easier tomorrow morning.”

Tony Kanaan, No. 66 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:

”This day is always hectic. You always think about what you got and what you didn’t get, but I think we’re OK. Tomorrow is really going to be about the drawing, the wind and everything else, but I think we have a pretty good car. All four cars are pretty similar. I’ll have some teammates going out before we do. We’ll see what’s going to happen.”

Ed Carpenter, No. 33 Chevrolet at Ed Carpenter Racing:

“Anything can happen around here. I won’t feel good until Monday practice and we know we’re in the race. It’s crazy competitive right now. I don’t know, I think the Saturday, tomorrow night at the bell is going to be as chaotic and as much jockeying as ever because there are so many people capable of making the top 12 right now. It’s going to be stressed out a little.”

With the track as good as it is in the middle of the day. Would this be a year where the draw may not matter as much, and then you will see people going back and forth and never feeling safe?

“I think the draw is going to matter more than ever because it’s not going to be cloudy tomorrow. In my opinion, track temp always trumps ambient temp around here. The track temp is going to be climbing on the last forecast I saw, which they’ve been inaccurate all month. It’s going to be sunny tomorrow so I think it’s going to throw everything a little bit of a wrinkle from today, plus with wind direction. There could be some volatility but it’s going to be tight no matter what. There are a ton of competitive drivers and teams here. We got a sunny track, so I’m cautiously optimistic for the BITNILE.COM Chevy, that we’ve got something for them tomorrow. Obviously, my teammates really quick, Rinus (VeeKay), right now. We’ve got a lot of decisions to make with a bit of all the things we were doing today. Optimistic we’ll at least have a chance for Sunday.”

Santino Ferrucci, No. 14 Chevrolet at AJ Foyt Racing:

“I feel good. I mean, today was pretty solid. We’re close to the top on the charts for most of the day. It cooled down, so many went quicker. We’ll see if we make the fast 12 tomorrow.”

On the great couple of days and chances of top-12?

“Yeah, I know. Honestly, it’s kind of shocking but we’ve worked really hard on this car, and everybody’s put in a lot of time for this. When it’s got raw pace, it’s nice to be able to top the board three days in a row.”

With Benjamin’s (Pedersen) car coming to life today, do you feel you’ve helped the program, he’s helped you, that kind of thing?

“Honestly, we’ve been on the same cars the entire three days. We’ve made a couple of changes here and there. Stuff that’s really small to help us get comfortable, but our cars are almost the same.”

Benjamin Pedersen, No. 55 Chevrolet at AJ Foyt Racing:

“Really good day for my first ever Fast Friday, being a rookie this year. We did our first run, which was pretty okay. We were lacking a bit of grip but I just told the engineers what I was feeling, and then we went out for our second run, and the car was hooked up right away. Super, super fast. I think we’re eight at the moment on no-tow. The car is feeling really good. My teammate (Santino Ferrucci) is right there as well with us. We’re right on top of each other with performance. Our day concluded pretty quickly. Looking forward to tomorrow’s qualifying.”

Larry Foyt, President of AJ Foyt Racing:

“Well, (Fast Friday has) been really nice and calm. Honestly, when your cars are fast, it just helps you slow everything down. You’re not scrambling, quite as much so, so it kind of been a been a nice day. I think both drivers are really happy. The Chevy power feels great. So we’re excited for tomorrow. Just trying to make sure all the i’s are dotted and T’s are crossed. But no, it’s just it just feels great. You know the Sexton Properties car and the Homes for Troops car, it’s just nice when you got speed in your car. So engineering has done a great job. mechanics have put together some really clean racecars and now it comes down to tomorrow and putting the four laps together because I think that’s what you’re seeing everyone’s so tight. You know with that first lap a lot of people are fast, but you got to get four laps together.”

Would you guys consider a third car, and have some people calling to inquire about that? Just maybe the decision to really stay with those strengths and use those two numbers you always have?

“There is a little bit of talk obviously. Some people have called and you know, it’s it feels like every year I promise the guys I won’t do it and then I think they were gonna just beat the hell out of me if I were at three this year. They’re pointing at me now. So yeah, we just it was like hey, let’s focus on the two and so it’s good and that’s what we’re doing and it’s nice and yeah, like I say just want to get tomorrow over with hopefully have to in the fastball 12 and give it another go.”

On team chemistry…

“It’s been really nice. I mean, Santina really knows what he wants here. He loves this place. He has a really good idea of what he wants out of the car. So that’s been super helpful. And Benjamin, I mean, I’m just really impressed. He’s just been so calm and cool for his first time here. And, you know, put up that run today. And that was just really nice. I mean, it we haven’t run a lot today, but he feels really confident as far so it’s been I’d say it’s been good. It’s not over yet. And this place can always throw you throw the loop, but we haven’t changed a lot and my engineering has put some good cars together. So, we’re excited.”

Agustin Canapino, No. 78 Chevrolet at Juncos Hollinger Racing:

“My first Fast Friday for the Indy 500, and oh my god what a feeling. Honestly, we’re in a good position. We started rather badly in last positions, but we were improving through the day. We finished in a good position, I think. We will see what happens tomorrow, because everything changes with the weather. We will see what happens.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 23 Chevrolet at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing:

“Today was our first day really going after the qualifying trim with the added turbo boost. It was a trial-and-error day for us. We found things we didn’t like. But, at the end, we did find things we did like and what I needed out of the car. We were in the top 15 in the four-lap average today, so I’ll take that and move on to the first day of qualifying. You really couldn’t dial too much into it today with wind increasing later in the afternoon. You get to the point where it’s going to be so much different on Saturday that we need to see what we have right now. It’s going to be cooler, and the wind direction is going flip 180 degrees. The good deal is my son, Rhodes, drew number one for qualifying. So, we are the first qualifier tomorrow morning. That’s the best we can ask for entering qualifying.”

RC Enerson, No. 50 Chevrolet at Abel Motorsports:

“I think today was tough. I think there were a lot of people off their game early, especially those who were a lot trimmed out today. A lot’s going to change for tomorrow. We learned a lot today, and we’ll probably come with a whole different downforce setup for tomorrow. But overall today that last run was decent and now we’ll just go back to work for tomorrow morning.”

Fast Friday Top Speeds

Pos No Name Time Behind Gap FL Laps Speed Engine Team
1 11 Takuma Sato 38.3382 0.000s 0.000s 2 18 234.753 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
2 98 Marco Andretti 38.4283 0.0901 0.0901 31 32 234.202 Honda Andretti
3 21 Rinus VeeKay 38.4334 0.0952 0.0051 3 15 234.171 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
4 8 Marcus Ericsson 38.4568 0.1186 0.0234 16 20 234.029 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
5 5 Pato O’Ward 38.4951 0.1569 0.0383 12 26 233.796 Chevy Arrow McLaren
6 2 Josef Newgarden 38.4999 0.1617 0.0048 14 20 233.767 Chevy Team Penske
7 14 Santino Ferrucci 38.5013 0.1631 0.0014 23 32 233.758 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
8 27 Kyle Kirkwood 38.5260 0.1878 0.0247 10 33 233.608 Honda Andretti Autosport
9 26 Colton Herta 38.5348 0.1966 0.0088 16 27 233.555 Honda Andretti Autosport w/Curb-Agajanian
10 9 Scott Dixon 38.5429 0.2047 0.0081 14 17 233.506 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
11 6 Felix Rosenqvist 38.5509 0.2127 0.0080 23 26 233.458 Chevy Arrow McLaren
12 12 Will Power 38.5614 0.2232 0.0105 18 22 233.394 Chevy Team Penske
13 3 Scott McLaughlin 38.5691 0.2309 0.0077 17 21 233.347 Chevy Team Penske
14 10 Alex Palou 38.5822 0.2440 0.0131 6 17 233.268 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
15 55 Benjamin Pedersen 38.5939 0.2557 0.0117 12 14 233.197 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
16 7 Alexander Rossi 38.6044 0.2662 0.0105 12 42 233.134 Chevy Arrow McLaren
17 66 Tony Kanaan 38.6106 0.2724 0.0062 16 29 233.097 Chevy Arrow McLaren
18 20 Conor Daly 38.6288 0.2906 0.0182 11 28 232.987 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
19 28 Romain Grosjean 38.6363 0.2981 0.0075 10 14 232.942 Honda Andretti Autosport
20 78 Agustin Canapino 38.6399 0.3017 0.0036 33 37 232.920 Chevy Juncos Holling Racing
21 33 Ed Carpenter 38.6406 0.3024 0.0007 16 19 232.916 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
22 23 Ryan Hunter-Reay 38.6497 0.3115 0.0091 22 26 232.861 Chevy Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
23 60 Simon Pagenaud 38.6939 0.3557 0.0442 30 33 232.595 Honda Meyer Shank Racing
24 24 Stefan Wilson 38.6981 0.3599 0.0042 25 28 232.570 Chevy Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
25 18 David Malukas 38.7320 0.3938 0.0339 17 20 232.366 Honda Dale Coyne Racing with HMD
26 29 Devlin DeFrancesco 38.7391 0.4009 0.0071 25 29 232.323 Honda Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport
27 06 Helio Castroneves 38.7701 0.4319 0.0310 43 45 232.138 Honda Meyer Shank Racing
28 51 Sting Ray Robb 38.8435 0.5053 0.0734 11 21 231.699 Honda Dale Coyne Racing w/RWR
29 44 Katherine Legge 38.8904 0.5522 0.0469 37 40 231.420 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
30 50 RC Enerson 38.9203 0.5821 0.0299 21 32 231.242 Chevy Abel Motorsports
31 30 Jack Harvey 38.9331 0.5949 0.0128 3 35 231.166 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
32 45 Christian Lundgaard 38.9353 0.5971 0.0022 18 45 231.153 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
33 15 Graham Rahal 39.0170 0.6788 0.0817 41 50 230.669 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
34 77 Callum Ilott 39.3113 0.9731 0.2943 2 7 228.942 Chevy Juncos Hollinger Racing


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