Fast Friday, the day when drivers preparing for the Indianapolis 500 are given extra pressure in the turbocharger and allowed to run at qualifying speeds, was noticeably less busy on account of pervasive winds all afternoon.
While averaging over 231 MPH, any wind changes can upset the car with no warning. The 40 MPH gusts led to many drivers only completing a few laps all afternoon.
Once again, Takuma Sato was the fastest over a single lap at 232.789 MPH, and Alexander Rossi was able to clock the second fastest time of the day.
The fastest over a four-lap average, which is how qualifying times are measured for the Indy 500, was the likeable veteran Tony Kanaan with an average speed of 230.517 MPH
Santino Ferrucci was the first to brave the windy conditions when the green flag flew at noon, and the 23-year-old only completed a few laps before coming back down pit lane.
That was repeated over and over throughout the day, with drivers hitting the track to complete a qualifying simulation only to have a sketchy moment in the turns that caused them to come right back in.
Some drivers were able to complete a couple runs, but many opted to limit their running in order to save their equipment in the treacherous conditions.
The driver that had the biggest moment was Jimmie Johnson, who drifted high and brushed the wall coming out of turn 2.
Johnson was lucky to bounce off the wall without any damage other than a couple scuffed tires and scraped up floor edge, and the NASCAR legend told NBC after the run that he thought he would be able to make the exit cleanly.
“I’m just trying to understand this low downforce trim setting. Obviously the wind is pretty massive today.
“I felt like I had the corner made, and I think that’s why I touched the wall so square. Just late exit, the wind was to my backside, and I just needed six more inches out there and I didn’t have it.”
With the wind coming from the south all day, drivers faced a tailwind at the critical moment they were coming out of the turn to run down the backstretch.
That tailwind also pushed cars along down into the entrance of turn 3, where Conor Daly set the fastest speed trap time ever recorded of 243.724 MPH.
An odd occurrence happened unrelated to the wind, with race control systems losing power just 15 minutes into the session. It took a full 30 minutes before power was restored, though the lost time was not a hindrance due to the lack of interest in running.
Drivers will get one more short practice session Saturday morning before jumping into qualifying at 11:00 AM Eastern Time.
Practice and Qualifying have been shifted forward a bit in order to try to beat a rain system that is forecast to roll into the area in the early afternoon.