INDIANAPOLIS — The Carb Day forecast initially didn’t look great this week. But, as we’ve seen here in Indy, it doesn’t matter. While a 2 1/2 hour delay, we nearly got the entire two-hour final practice session in on Friday in what panned out to a very busy, yet one of the better practice sessions as you’ll see here.
Rain fell with a little more than 12 minutes left in practice, but it didn’t affect a whole lot since we got so much running in before mother nature made her presence known again. In that practice, Scott Dixon dropped the mic on the 33 car field with a top lap of 228.323 mph in his No. 9 Honda.
Dixon, was over a full mph faster than second as he was quickest as the first qualifier last Saturday, fastest as the final qualifier on Sunday, fastest on Fast Friday and now quickest on Carb Day. The last driver to lead the speed charts on Carb Day as well as the Indy 500?
Dario Franchitti in 2012.
“I don’t think it means anything at all,” Dixon said. “It’s been good that our cars I think have been able to get speed out of them quite easily for this 500. Again, it doesn’t really mean too much.
“I don’t know. I think it’s more about you know how the car felt. I think we were pretty comfortable. I think all four cars, I haven’t seen the other two, I saw T.K. briefly, he seems pretty happy as well. Some of those are lucky if you line up a tow. Mine was lucky, T.K. helped me out on that one.”
He only completed 47 laps on the session, second fewest among the 33 cars. That’s the ultimate mic drop if you ask me.
We changed our plans when we saw that. We knew we were in trouble,” Will Power said. Completely changed the car. I thought I was safe, then I saw him get out. That’s it, it’s over.”
Conor Daly joked that it was a “Scott Dixon move.”
Dixon kept his cards close to his chest and remained coy on the subject.
“I was told we were done, so… We got through our list,” the pole sitter remarked. “I thought the car felt good. I don’t know. Also the conditions, I thought everyone was going to feel like King Kong out there. I don’t know.”
Dixon, had company up front from the Penske’s though. All four Penske drivers made up the five spots behind with Simon Pagenaud (227.157 mph) leading the way among them in P2 in his No. 22 Chevrolet. Josef Newgarden (226.856 mph) was third in his No. 2 Chevrolet while Conor Daly (226.399 mph) and Marco Andretti (226.396 mph) rounded out the top five in the final session.
Will Power (226.223 mph) and Scott McLaughln (226.192 mph) were sixth and seventh respectively with Tony Kanaan (225.929 mph) in eighth to give Penske and Ganassi six of the top eight speeds.
The session saw 2,353 laps turned in what honestly looked like a race day session. If you didn’t know any better, you would have thought we saw race day on Friday. There was constant passing with drivers trading the top spot of the train sometimes two times a lap.
With that said, how indicative was Friday’s practice for Sunday’s race? Today was upper 50’s ambient temperatures with track conditions in the 70-80s. It will be upper 60’s to low 70’s and sunny skies on Sunday.
“You try to run the downforce level that you’d run on Sunday,” said Power on if you setup your car for today or for the race on Sunday since the conditions will be different. “The track temp will certainly spread things out. If you have a clear day, it’s such a cool track temp today, everything works together, also keeps the tires under you. Track temp will certainly change the game, even if it was a cool temperature like this.”
Dixon said he’s not sure if today’s session will be any indication of Sunday or not either.
“I don’t know. I think the weather can change from now till then,” Dixon said. “It’s going to be cooler, I think. It’s been a while since we’ve had kind of a cool race day, maybe 2017. I don’t even remember. It’s been a little bit.
“Yeah, if it’s like this, it’s going to be mentally draining because there’s a lot of action going on. You can kind of pass on the front, repass on the back straight. A lot of action going on.
“Looking forward to it if that’s the way it plays out. But I think when the pack is a lot tighter, it also has the opportunity for some missteps and maybe some bigger caution periods, things like that. Hopefully everybody remains safe”
The only constant is the wind direction with similar wind speeds and a north to northeasterly wind today and Sunday.
“Different every day, honestly,” Power said on the wind. “Two was awesome today. You can just be hooked up. Four sucked. That could just change. If the wind changes 180, it will be the opposite so… That’s this place. You never work it out.”
“It’s been different. I think the wind is still very powerful. Something better about each corner every day,” noted Conor Daly.
We had some on track drama on Friday too. Conor Daly wasn’t at all happy with a maneuver Santino Ferrucci made going into Turn 3 at one point in practice.
“I don’t really care. I’m happy to do so,” Daly said on a boxing match with Ferrucci later. “Just kind of crazy. It was a bit ridiculous. I don’t really mind. It was on track, he hits the curb in turn two, nearly crash, but also decides to drive me all the way into the grass.”
When asked by Will Power during the press conference what happened, Daly went into detail.
“Earlier on when I passed him, the guy tries to, like, I don’t know. I was like I thought this is Carb Day,” he said. “I get it, but I thought we were practicing. I didn’t know we were sacrificing our vehicles for a prize today.”
Ferrucci later tweeted on a replay that “gap wasn’t there for you, go high bro.”
Daly was also frustrated with his car in practice too. Yes, he was P4, but one day after telling me how great his car is in a tow and how he can do whatever he wants with it, that No. 47 Chevrolet changed.
“We were until we went out today. Completely different. It’s actually very confusing,” he said. “We were pretty good. I think it was just a much more difficult science project today. I think when you work towards the days getting hotter and hotter, we thought we made the right moves. I was very happy Sunday afternoon. Sunday afternoon I was like let’s go racing right now. Now I want another four days of practice.
“Tough, for sure. I think we made some progress towards the end. We’re not bad, but I didn’t feel as sporty as before. We’ll have to put our thinking caps on, go through our notes.”
A Chip Ganassi Racing driver led the speed charts in almost literally every session this month minus opening day and the shorter qualifying day ones. Dixon was quickest on the second day, Tony Kanaan on Day 3, Dixon again on Fast Friday, Dixon on both qualifying days for Time Trials, Marcus Ericsson on Sunday evening and now Dixon again on Carb Day.
Donald Davidson made a press conference appearance not with a question but with a stat that the last time the pace car for the Indy 500 was a convertible, was 2008. The winner that year…Scott Dixon.