By: Tanner Watkins
November 8, 2019 | 5:00 PM
Thursday’s third day of practice for the Open-Wheels.com 500 Mile Race presented by Mitchell Transmissions was led by another Brazilian driver in Marco Aurelio Brasil, making it a clean sweep of three straight days the South American country has topped the time charts.
Marco’s quickest lap averaged a speed of 232.799mph (38.660s) and led Nate Stewart (231.446mph), Thales Toledo (230.793mph), Silvio Roberto Sanchez (230.793mph) and Danyyil Moysa (230.639mph) in the top five.
Wilson Neto – who was sixth-quick in Thursday’s practice – logged the most laps with 316 circuits completed. In the end, four Brazilian drivers found their way into the first six positions on the leaderboard.
For Stewart, driver of the No. 37 FUEL Gonzalez Motorsports Dallara IR-18 Honda, it was a thrill to end the practice just one spot away from the top with just a couple days until qualifications begin.
“So far, I’ve been running about mid-pack of those that are practicing. That’s where I expected to be. I’m mostly a stock car guy, so coming over here, I didn’t really expect to be the fastest,” said Stewart.
“My teammates at FUEL Gonzalez Motorsports are working super hard on the setup, and hopefully we can all make the show. Heading into the weekend, I’m doubtful on my attempt at making the field. I’ll be happy to leave with a top 50 time since the competition is so stiff. I’m working my ass off to get faster, hopefully I can show it during qualifying.”
In total, 45 drivers reached the track on Thursday – and 65 of the 104 cars on the entry list have practiced in official on-track sessions. Many drivers prefer to practice in private servers, as well, and a slew of those drivers are expected for qualifications on Saturday.
On Thursday evening, the draw for Saturday morning’s initial qualifications order was also held. Drivers will have one guaranteed chance to qualify in the initial order line (between 6:00 AM and 3:00 PM Eastern) before the track is open from 3:00 to 5:50 PM Eastern for additional qualifications attempts. On Sunday,, the track will be open from 6:00 AM to 5:50 PM Eastern for qualifications, as well.
Drivers and teams will have Friday to test and tune on their cars one more time before Qualifications Weekend presented by AG Trucking kicks off on Saturday. At the end of the day on Saturday, the Pit Lane Parley Pole Award will be granted to the fastest driver, and by Sunday’s qualifying conclusion, the field of 104 entrants will be whittled down to our magical number of 33 starters.
RaceSpot TV will offer special coverage of Qualifications Weekend on both Saturday and Sunday, going live at 5:00 PM Eastern each day for final-hour coverage of both Pole Day and Bump Day. Additionally, all qualifications attempts (beginning at 6:00 AM Eastern each day) can be viewed on Open-Wheels’ livestream at Twitch.TV/OpenWheels.
Stay tuned for continued coverage of the 2019 Open-Wheels.com 500 Mile Race presented by Mitchell Transmissions, and make sure to tune into the race on Sunday, November 17 – with live worldwide coverage provided by RaceSpot TV beginning at 11:15 AM Eastern.
Header image by Tanner Watkins/Open-Wheels.com