INDIANAPOLIS — Good morning from the World’s Greatest Race Course. It’s the second and final day of testing in preparation for next month’s 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network). Friday’s forecast is much better than yesterday’s with temps expected to soar to the upper 70’s by late afternoon.
Thursday’s session saw more action among the track drying equipment than actual cars itself. 21 drivers took to the track when the green flag dropped at 11 a.m. ET, but only 20 of them would finish it with second year driver Rinus VeeKay crashing in Turn 1 at 11:11 a.m. ET. His No. 21 Chevrolet would be so badly damaged that the team didn’t have enough time to repair it for them to get back on the track on Friday. Also, VeeKay broke his left index finger in the crash but has since been cleared to drive.
In terms of that session, they only got to run for 90 minutes before rain fell on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 12:31 p.m. ET. That would end their on track activity for the day as they got back on track for their own session at 10 a.m. ET this morning.
The rookies and veteran refreshers finally hit the track at 6:03 p.m. ET yesterday in a session that would last just over an hour (7:15 p.m. ET). Most completed their phases, but some drivers needed more time to complete. They were able to have the track to themselves beginning at 9 a.m. ET this morning under bright sunny skies and temps in the upper 50’s.
10 a.m. ET – In that early hour long session, Simona de Silvestro, Max Chilton and Sage Karam completed their veteran phases rather easily. Then, both rookies in Pietro Fittipaldi and Cody Ware finished their third and final phase with all joining Sebastien Bourdais, Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, James Hinchcliffe, Ed Jones and Dalton Kellett as passing their tests and becoming Indy 500 eligible.
Castroneves (220.999 mph) paced the 60 minute test between 9-10 a.m. ET while Chilton (220.926 mph) was the only other driver to eclipse the 220 mph barrier. Montoya (218.925 mph), Fittipaldi (218.630 mph) and de Silvestro (218.613 mph) rounded out the top five.
11 a.m. ET – The 20 veterans here hit the track after for their hour long session that was led by Conor Daly again. The Ed Carpenter Racing driver paced the way yesterday and did so again this morning. Daly, turned in a lap of 224.790 mph in his No. 47 Chevrolet. He bested Chip Ganassi Racing teammates of Scott Dixon (224.740 mph) and Alex Palou (224.134 mph) who were both second and third respectively.
Simon Pagenaud (223.689 mph) and Ed Carpenter (223.222 mph) rounded out the top five in a busy session that featured mostly group running. Most of the drivers said that with the winds expected to pick up later, they’re going to run in a draft early to get the most accurate data that they can in more ideal conditions.
Now, we’re going to see the 30 cars here all eligible to run the rest of the day until 6 p.m. ET. That session was a little bit delayed in going green due to weather in the area. We finally went green just shortly after 11:30 a.m. ET which saw heavy activity from then on out.
The only delay we had was for a couple of brief rain showers which occurred at 11:57 a.m. ET and around 12:25 p.m. ET.
No one topped Daly or Dixon’s early lap times but Pato O’Ward (224.269 mph) and Colton Herta (224.203 mph) jumped up between Dixon and Palou as of 2 p.m. ET.
2 p.m. ET – Plus, through three hours, we had a lot of group running in race sims to ensure the balance and testing check lists are fully checked. We luckily have seen no on track incidents through five full hours of running at this point.
3 p.m. ET – Conor Daly currently sits P3 on the overall speed chart but he notes that despite some aero changes to the car between August and now in superspeedway trim that it’s still very hard to pass. While it does feel a little bit better in dirty air, it unfortunately doesn’t in terms of making moves on track. Daly, said that at the moment with where things stand that in order to make moves, you need to hope for the car in front of you to make a mistake. He also noted that it’s a balance right now and that they’re taking his No. 47 Chevrolet back to Gasoline Alley to do some adjustments. He did some running with both the Penske’s and Ganassi groups and said that the Penske cars have the most raw speed but Ganassi has the best balance.
4 p.m. ET – The fifth caution of the day has flown for another track inspection. This was a scheduled one since we’ve went the last several hours without a break in the action. So far, Josef Newgarden holds the fastest lap of 226.819 mph in his No. 2 Chevrolet. Newgarden, turned that lap in the 3 p.m. hour when he and his Team Penske teammates started what grew to a 12 car group. The last hour or so has been intense with several larger groups running which is impressive due to the amount of sustained winds around the course. Rahal, fell to P2 at 225.644 mph while Will Power jumped up over 225 mph in his No. 12 Chevrolet at 225.501 mph. Daly and Dixon’s laps from earlier still hold in the top five. On the no tow chart, Rahal leads that way still at 221.949 mph. Rookie Scott McLaughlin (221.153 mph) is second while Alexander Rossi (220.889 mph), Power (220.405 mph) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (220.387 mph) round out the top five on this chart. The no tow chart isn’t as effective as a tool today since everyone is concentrating on race runs and testing check lists. Finding a clean lap from this point forward will be difficult with most drivers and teams concentrating on group running, plus no one is working on qualifying sims now like they would in May.
5 p.m. ET – It’s officially happy hour here in Indianapolis. We saw another hour of group running with several times the groups exceeded 7-8 cars. In this time, Juan Pablo Montoya jumped up to second on the timing charts with a lap of 226.123 mph. He joins Newgarden (226.819 mph) as the only two over the 226 mph barrier. Scott Dixon also jumped up and over the 225 mph bracket at 225.906 mph in his No. 9 Honda. Rahal went from first to fourth in a span of a couple of hours while Power rounded out the top five.
6 p.m. ET – The checkered flag waves on the day with an impressive 3,956 laps turned on a beautiful afternoon at IMS. Josef Newgarden topped the speed charts at 226.819 mph while Takuma Sato made a late jump from 29th to 2nd in the closing minutes. He turned in a speed of 226.396 mph in his No. 30 Honda. Montoya (226.123 mph), Dixon (225.906 mph) and Rahal (225.644 mph) rounded out the top five. Conor Daly went 225.639 mph to rejoin the top five before Sato’s late lap, during a very busy happy hour. The action went incident free with the only crash of the two-day test being VeeKay at 11:11 a.m. ET on Thursday morning. We saw only five cautions on Friday with 6-hours, 18-minutes and 39-seconds of green flag time.