Per usual, Fast Friday at the Indianapolis 500 provided some intense action with more than enough drama to whet our whistle for qualifications this weekend at the World’s Greatest Race Course.
With the threat of rain present all afternoon, teams hit the track early in the day to scoot in front of the expected weather front that will play on the nerves of drivers, teams and fans alike this weekend. Despite the forecast, the session was stopped only once for moisture reported in the area at 4:18 PM Eastern time.
Drivers were getting after it early and often, utilizing the extra 10kPa of boost allotted for Fast Friday and qualifications. Marco Andretti was once again quickest on the overall leaderboard as he posted the fastest lap of the month: a circuit at 231.802 MPH with a tow.
By setting the fastest lap of Fast Friday, Andretti pocketed $10,000 from the Harding Group for his efforts.
Andretti’s lap placed him ahead of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Robert Wickens (231.732 MPH) and Ed Carpenter (231.066 MPH) as the fastest three drivers of the day.
The list to watch for, though, is the no-tow speed chart. More important than ever, the no-tow chart offers a look at single car speed which will be paramount on Saturday and Sunday for qualifications.
Check out the Fast Six drivers without a tow from Fast Friday practice below.
No-Tow Speed Leaderboard for Friday, May 18
- Will Power (Chevrolet) 229.780 MPH
- Josef Newgarden (Chevrolet) 228.993 MPH
- Simon Pagenaud (Chevrolet) 228.857 MPH
- Ed Carpenter (Chevrolet) 228.740 MPH
- Sebastien Bourdais (Honda) 228.657 MPH
- Spencer Pigot (Chevrolet) 228.424 MPH
Of course what stands out is the strong representation from Team Penske atop the leaderboard as Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud occupied positions 1 through 3. Once again, Ed Carpenter Racing was strong today as Carpenter himself was 4th-quickest while Spencer Pigot (6th-quickest) and Danica Patrick (7th-quick) were extremely quick in their own right.
Chevrolet continues the pattern of speed shown over Honda in the no-tow category this week. Today, five Chevrolet entries populated the single-car speed chart while Bourdais was the only driver in the top six for Honda. Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi was next in line with a lap that was 8th-quickest on the day.
Unfotunately, the session was marred by a significant accident in Turn 2 today as James Davison lost control of his No. 33 Foyt/Byrd/Belardi/Hollinger Chevrolet and sustained heavy damage in a significant impact.
Davison was checked and released from the IU Health Medical Center and is cleared to resume participation in this month’s activities.
The accident came as somewhat of a surprise for the Melbourne, Australia native as he reported the car felt fine before the rear end of the machine began to oversteer and lose traction.
“I guess became one of the drivers to slam the wall at Indianapolis, so joined the club today,” Davison joked. “Obviously, it’s not ideal, but we had to try some things. We’re 32nd quickest, right on the bubble and we are not going to go faster just standing there and looking at it, so no regrets there.
“I have been having a fantastic time with this Foyt/Byrd/Hollinger/Belardi team. We’ll regroup, see what we can pull out of the bag tomorrow and give it everything again.”
Initial reports are that Davison and his crew will not go to a back-up car, even though Bob Lazier has offered a safety cell to the team for use. Dallara have brought new bodywork parts to the No. 33 garage and it looks to be a long night ahead for that unit. We will update their condition in the morning before qualifications.
Tomorrow (Saturday, May 19) is Bump Day during Armed Forces Indianapolis 500 Qualifications Weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For the teams, the garages will open at 5:00 a.m. Eastern and pre-qualifying practice is set to start at 8:00 a.m. Eastern.
At 11:00 a.m Eastern, Bump Day qualifications begin with the first four hours of action being shown live on WatchESPN. At 4:00 p.m., the coverage shifts to ABC for their live telecast of the final two hours of action.
Stay tuned to Open-Wheels for a Bump Day primer in the morning and coverage of the Indianapolis 500 all month.
Images courtesy of Chris Owens/INDYCAR Media.