Scott Dixon found his way to the top of the time sheet near the end of the second day of running for the Indianapolis 500. The Chip Ganassi Racing Honda went around the 2.5-mile oval in 39.8050 seconds and an average speed of 226.102 MPH.
Takuma Sato was second in his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda and was among the few drivers who put in more than 120 laps during the six-and-a-half hour practice session, dialing in the race setup while getting comfortable driving in heavy traffic.
In the last hour of the session, Fernando Alonso became the first driver to crash in this year’s practice. The Formula 1 star got too far below the white line in turn four and touched the flat curbing, sending his car hard into the outside wall and sliding down pit lane. Before the crash, Alonso had run 126 laps and put in the eighth fastest lap of the day.
The silver lining to Alonso’s crash is that Arrow McLaren SP is a full-time entry in this year’s IndyCar championship and has significant funding. The team will be able to repair the car and get back on track much more easily than some of the smaller teams would have been able to.
During the day’s lengthy running, the main focus for the setups centered around getting the front-to-rear balance nailed down and choosing the appropriate levels of downforce. The changes brought about by the Aeroscreen have meant that teams are generally trending towards a higher downforce race setup including larger Gurney flaps on the rear wing, which will lead to more stability through the corners.
The Aeroscreen is also having large effects on the cars behind, with everyone struggling to maintain speed while following other cars. Even when the drivers were nearly a half second behind, they reported significant balance issues in the turbulent air.
Marco Andretti once again looked strong and finished the day occupying the third spot on the pylon. He was joined in the top four by Conor Daly in his US Air Force Chevrolet, and was the last driver to put in a lap at over 225 MPH.
Dragonspeed’s woes continued, as the team was not able to complete the required “Rookie Orientation Program” in the early morning time they were allotted due to an electronics issue on the car. Because of this, Ben Hanley was not allowed to join the track with the rest of the field and missed out on valuable practice time. The team is being given additional track time at the end of the day today to complete the build-up procedure required of all inexperienced drivers.
Tomorrow the teams will have another full day of practice, but they will have their cars in qualifying trim instead of race trim. Higher turbocharger boost allowance will give the cars an extra 80 horsepower, and drivers will be looking for a clean track as opposed to the pack running that was done today.
“Fast Friday” starts at 11:00 EDT tomorrow and mirrors today’s schedule at six and a half hours of on-track time.