INDIANAPOLIS – The final practice for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge gave the 33 drivers and teams a last chance to dial in their cars for race. Afterward, some felt better prepared for Sunday’s “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” while others aren’t so sure.
Tony Kanaan, the 22-year Indy car veteran and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner, posted the fastest lap of the Miller Lite Carb Day session Friday at 225.517 mph in the No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet. While admitting the lap came with the aid of a tow from cars in front of him, Kanaan was pleased with the steps forward his car has taken since Monday’s practice.
“A good day for us,” Kanaan said. “Obviously, conditions look like pretty similar to what we're going to see on Sunday, hopefully. It was a pretty easy day for us.
“I wasn't really happy with my car on Monday and I was extremely vocal about it, and I think my engineers heard me, so we made it better today.”
Kanaan will make his 18th Indy 500 start on Sunday, this time from the inside of Row 6. He focused on tweaking his car to run strong in traffic on Friday since he knows he’ll be in the thick of it during the race.
“I was really working on my car, the level of downforce and grip that I wanted to have starting 16th,” Kanaan explained. “So, really, we worked in traffic a lot and trying to find the grip and scan to some of the items that we had on the list to be able to – once we put ourselves in the front during the race – to know what to do.”
Rookie Santino Ferrucci was second fastest in the practice, turning a lap of 225.486 mph in the No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda for Dale Coyne Racing. Takuma Sato, the 2017 Indy 500 champion, was third in the No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
"We were having fun,” Ferrucci said. “The No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda is in really good shape. We could pass about everybody and we're quick, so there isn't much else to say really. We're looking forward to the race."
Pole sitter Simon Pagenaud ranked 22nd on the speed chart Friday at 222.856 mph in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet. Teammate Will Power, the reigning race winner, was 10th at 224.240 mph in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet.
Points leader Josef Newgarden was 13th fastest in the No. 2 Shell V-Power Nitro Plus Team Penske Chevrolet. He holds a six-point lead heading into the race over reigning NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, who wasn’t pleased with how his No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda handled on Friday.
“I don't know what happened there with the PNC Bank car, honestly,” said Dixon, who was 19th on the speed chart and starts the race 18th. “I hope we find something wrong with the car because it wasn’t great. It’s really bizarre, and nothing like we had all month, so we are unsure.
“There is a fundamental issue on the car and we’ll work to find out what happened there.”
A total of 1,755 laps were completed on the 2.5-mile oval in the practice scheduled for 90 minutes shortened 18 minutes to allow the track to dry following morning rain.
The 33 entries are now parked in their Gasoline Alley garages until Sunday’s 200-lap race. Live coverage begins at 11 a.m. ET on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. The green flag is expected at 12:45 p.m.