INDIANAPOLIS — Friday was a Chamber of Commerce day in Central Indiana with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway being baked in 70+ degree warmth and sunshine. While we had a couple of delays earlier in the afternoon for brief rain showers, Friday was nothing like the soggy day that ensued on Thursday.
By virtue of Thursday’s bout with Mother Nature, Friday’s final day of the two-day test session for 32 cars was extended. Instead of starting at 10 a.m. ET, we’d move up an hour earlier to 9 a.m. locally. Then, we’d extend the session from a 4 p.m. ET checkered to 6 p.m. ET.
Furthermore, the rookies and veterans needing to finish their refresher course would get track time during the first hour (9-10 a.m.) while the other cars here had a session to themselves from 10-11 a.m.
Simona de Silvestro, Max Chilton and Sage Karam finished their refreshers while the two rookies (Pietro Fittipaldi, Cody Ware) wrapped up the orientation. That allowed them to join everyone else when the all skate session began around 11:30 a.m. ET.
In that session, the cream of the crop rose to the top. You have seven combined series championships including each of the last four consecutively as well as five Indy 500 wins among the top four speeds.
Josef Newgarden led the way with a top lap of 226.819 mph in his No. 2 Chevrolet. Newgarden, finished fourth here last August. P2 was last year’s winner Takuma Sato who turned in late lap of 226.396 mph in his No. 30 Honda. Juan Pablo Montoya was P3. The two-time Indy 500 champion wasted little time getting up to speed as Thursday was his first time in an Indy Car since 2017. Montoya, circled the famed 2.5-mile track with a speed of 226.123 mph. Defending series champion Scott Dixon went 225.906 mph in his No. 9 Honda while Graham Rahal (225.644 mph) and Conor Daly (225.639 mph) rounded out the top six of the speed chart.
What’s impressive is, the top four finishers from the 104th Running were in the top five on the speed chart on Friday.
3,956 laps were turned on Friday with 6-hours, 18-minutes and 39-seconds of green flag time.
The only car to not run today was second year driver Rinus VeeKay who’s primary car was back at Ed Carpenter Racing being repaired from his crash on Thursday. His backup car is already prepared for next weekend’s season opener at Barber, so they didn’t want to risk the car possibly being wrecked again. Plus, the primary was so badly damaged, it wasn’t going to be repaired in sufficient time. On top of that, VeeKay admitted that he broke his left index finger in the crash but was still cleared to drive. He said that the injury shouldn’t affect him in the car because it’s at the top and it’s the least used bone in his finger.
The series begins their season next weekend at the Barber Motorsports Park while oval activity begins here on May 18.