INDIANAPOLIS – The fastest speeds of the month occurred on Day 2 of Indianapolis 500 practice, as all 35 drivers took to the famed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway and turned 3,349 laps on a nice Wednesday afternoon of practice. As you can tell by the high number of laps turned, the track was a busy place for most of the day. Most of the drivers decided to work in drafting conditions, as with the boost levels for qualifying not getting turned up until Friday, they all felt it was best to race in race day simulations.
So, that meant lap after lap of cars running in a tow with trying to get the right amount of balance levels in the draft.
In the seven hour session, Marco Andretti topped the speed charts in his No. 98 Honda. Andretti, circled the track with a speed of 227.053 mph in mid-afternoon. He turned 117 laps overall, but his 60th lap was the quickest of the day and of the month thus far too. Scott Dixon was P2 with a time of 226.329 mph in his No. 9 Honda. Where Dixon had a good lap in traffic, his single lap speed was outside of the top 22.
The defending Indy 500 champion Takuma Sato was third overall with a speed of 226.108 mph in his No. 30 Honda while Robert Wickens gave Honda a 1-2-3-4 day with a lap of 226.086 mph in his No. 6 Honda. Charlie Kimball was the fastest Chevrolet driver turning in a speed of 225.887 mph in his No. 23 Chevrolet.
Where Chevy lacked in the draft they made up for it in single car speeds. Seven of the top nine speeds on the now tow chart went to Chevy drivers, led by Tony Kanaan with a speed of 223.048 mph in his No. 14 Chevrolet. His rookie teammate Matheus Leist didn’t turn a single lap on Tuesday, but he was fifth on the now tow list with a lap of 222.098 mph. Both Carlin drivers were also found up front on this last as Kimball and Max Chilton were sixth and seventh respectively.
Between Foyt and Carlin, they had four cars in the top seven of the now tow list.
Ed Carpenter (222.754 mph), Sebastien Bourdais (222.441 mph) and Alexander Rossi (222.139 mph) were second through fourth respectively on single car speeds.
Since so many laps were turned on Wednesday, we got a good feel on how the race pace could be. Leading up to this year’s ‘500, we all expected to see another thrilling race with a ton of passing. After all, we’ve seen 34+ lead changes for six straight years here. Plus, we have over 1,300 on track passes in five races this season too, which is over a 110-percent increase from last year. With the overall impact of this new car supposed to be felt in drag and in wake levels, we were going to see an even closer race right?
At the test a few weeks ago, Scott Dixon told me that he expected a “pack race.” Jay Frye told me that he didn’t feel like it would be as close as Dixon said it would be, but he did feel it would be reminiscent of the years past. That was their goal right?
Well, several drivers have said through two days of practice so far that for some reason, this car isn’t sucking up as easy as the old car did. They’re as puzzled as the rest of us, as they can’t get as close to the car in front as usual. This is something we’re going to be watching on Thursday and the Monday practice following qualifying.