The speed chart provided the proof when Marco Andretti said he had a good race car on the second day of Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil practice.
The third-generation Indy car driver was fastest in Wednesday’s seven-hour session on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, turning a 227.053-mph lap in the No. 98 U.S. Concrete/Curb Honda. Andretti led a parade of four Honda drivers atop the timesheet a day after Chevrolet owned the first three spots in Tuesday’s opening practice.
This week’s four scheduled days of practice lead up to qualifying for the 102nd running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on Saturday and Sunday, when the grid will be set and bumping one’s way into the 33-car field is expected for the first time in seven years. Indianapolis 500 race day, featuring the world’s largest single-day sporting event, is set for Sunday, May 27 (11 a.m. ET, ABC and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).
Andretti, chasing his 13th straight Indy 500 start and first win in the race, was pleased with the progress his crew has been making.
“It was a pretty productive day,” Andretti said. “We got the car to ‘almost there’ in traffic. We’re not there yet, but I’m sure everybody’s dealing with a similar thing. But we think we have a direction, which is positive.”
Scott Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 winner and four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion, was second fastest on the day, with a lap of 226.329 mph in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
“I think the car was decent,” Dixon said. “The conditions were probably more favorable around lunchtime. (In) the heat of the day, we went through some struggles, went through some pretty big changes.
“A long story short, we ended up finding a couple of good changes. The second-to-last run was fairly decent as far as being comfortable in the car, kind of being very consistent. That was nice. We just ran full downforce all day and tried to work with the car and find better combinations just for being comfortable in traffic and trying to get the car a little more grip.”
Defending Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato was third on the day at 226.108 mph in the No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, with rookie Robert Wickens fourth in the No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda at 226.086 mph. Charlie Kimball was tops in the Chevrolet camp and fifth overall with a lap of 225.887 mph in the No. 23 Fiasp entry for Carlin.
Danica Patrick, completing her stellar INDYCAR and NASCAR racing career at this year’s Indianapolis 500, was 12th on the speed chart in the No. 13 GoDaddy Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing (224.570 mph).
“I ran in traffic virtually all day,” Patrick said. “I feel like that’s going to pay off in the long run. We still have to make the car better, but me getting more comfortable is also going to help that process. So, all in all, it was another good, productive day.”
All 35 entered drivers saw track time, totaling 3,349 laps without incident. Fifteen drivers turned more than 100 laps each, led by James Hinchcliffe with 129 in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda.
All of the fast laps were completed with the aid of the aerodynamic tow from leading cars in a group. The best lap of the day recorded without a tow went to Tony Kanaan, at 223.048 mph in the No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda.
Practice resumes on Thursday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. ET, ahead of “Fast Friday” practice when engine turbocharger boost is increased by INDYCAR, generating higher speeds for Friday’s practice and weekend qualifications.
Hinchcliffe, American Red Cross hosting blood drive at IMS
James Hinchcliffe needed 22 pints of blood to help him survive after a serious crash in practice for the 2015 Indianapolis 500. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver has made it a priority to return the favor.
Hinchcliffe and the American Red Cross are teaming for a special blood drive at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday, May 21, with the goal to collect 105 donations. The first 100 people to donate will receive a free access pass to Hinchcliffe’s garage in Gasoline Alley during the Indy 500 practice day on the 2.5-mile oval.
“It took something like what happened to me for me to understand the problem,” said Hinchcliffe. “I’m working with the Red Cross to do whatever I can to raise awareness about the issue and try to draw people to blood donation.”
The “Hinchcliffe Hundred” blood drive is supported by INDYCAR, IMS and the IU Health Foundation. It will take place from noon-6 p.m. ET in Legends Row adjacent to Gasoline Alley. Donors must be at least 18 years of age and have a gate admission ticket for entry into the track, with free parking available inside Turn 3 of the oval while it lasts.
A free gate ticket will be emailed to each donor who registers in advance to donate. To register, visit https://rdcrss.org/2IbkEMw or call (800) RED-CROSS and use the sponsor code: HinchcliffeHundred.
AFS Racing joins with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports on No. 7 Honda
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced a partnership with AFS Racing for a co-entry of the No. 7 One Cure Honda driven by Jay Howard in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. The partnership between will see SPM personnel utilizing AFS Racing’s equipment.
Owner Gary Peterson and AFS Racing has a long history in motorsports, including fielding a pair of Indy Lights champions (Raphael Matos in 2008, JR Hildebrand in 2009) and competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“Gary and I have been fierce competitors in Indy Lights for quite some time, but in spite of that, he and (wife) Tammi have become great friends off the track,” said Sam Schmidt, co-owner of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports along with Ric Peterson (no relation to Gary Peterson). “Although he has decided to go sports car racing, he still has a tremendous passion for the Indy 500 and everything it means in the world of motorsports. Gary brings not only quality assets to the program, but also vast experience and knowledge which will be very valuable throughout the month.”