until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Everything that happened in Indy 500’s ‘Fast Friday’

by Jack Benyon
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

With speeds reportedly not seen since 1996, Chip Ganassi’s Takuma Sato set the fastest lap and the best four-lap average in preparation for Indianapolis 500 qualifying.

Local hero Conor Daly was the first to beat Sato’s fastest time from last year, a 232.789mph, and from there on in the times tumbled until Sato’s lap just before 1pm local went unbeaten for the rest of the day with a 234.753mph.

It’s reportedly one of the fastest practice laps since the 1996 race when most of the Indy 500 speed records were set.

Sato had a wild moment where he nudged the wall but remained on full throttle last year in qualifying, and repeated the same commitment as he came a sheet of paper away from crashing at Turn 2 in typically flamboyant and outrageous style.

Behind Sato, Marco Andretti used favourable conditions inside the last 30 minutes to go second fastest overall, ahead of Ed Carpenter’s Rinus VeeKay, Ganassi’s Marcus Ericsson and Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward.

Over 2.5 miles, the top 27 were split by less than half a second.

Top five single lap times

1 Sato 224.753mph, 38.3382s
2 Andretti +0.0901s
3 VeeKay +0.0952s
4 Ericsson +0.1186s
5 O’Ward +0.1569s

Bottom five single-lap times

30 Enerson +0.5821s
31 Harvey +0.5949s
32 Lundgaard +0.5971
33 Rahal +0.6788s
34 Ilott +0.9731s

Daly’s team-mate Rinus VeeKay had the best four-lap average – which is the measurement used in qualifying here – for most of the day through into the last of six hours, where Josef Newgarden went from last in the ranking to first, as the first to break the 234mph average.

That wasn’t the end of the day though, as Takuma Sato delivered a 233.413mph to move ahead of another improver in Ericsson, bumping Newgarden to third.

Will Power was another late jump up the order in this category in fourth with VeeKay’s time standing in fifth.

To reiterate the speed we saw today, last year’s best four-lap average in Friday practice was almost 3mph slower, a 230.517mph, although last year was extremely windy.

Best four-lap averages

1 Sato 233.413mph
2 Ericsson 233.113mph
3 Newgarden 233.086mph
4 Power 233.086mph
5 VeeKay 232.898mph

Worst four-lap averages

30 Lundgaard 230.388mph
31 Rahal 230.366mph
32 Harvey 230.322mph
33 Enerson 230.204mph
34 Ilott n/a

It’s clear that the team struggling is Rahal Letterman Lanigan, which didn’t appear too worried in the pre-practice press conference but had all four cars 29th or worse, with the returning Katharine Legge jumping up to 29th with one of the last runs of the day.

Just before that, Jack Harvey pulled in with his car bellowing with smoke after an engine issue, confirmed by Trackside Online below.

All four cars were 29th or worse in the four-lap average as well.

Callum Ilott was the last car in the field on the overall lap times, and midway through the afternoon he and his team made the decision to switch to a backup car which ran at the test with Agustin Canapino in April.

“I think it would have been tough to make the race with the car we were running,” said Ilott.

You can read more on his and team owner Ricardo Juncos’s thoughts here, as the team is scrambling to prepare a car for tomorrow.

Ilott’s team-mate Canapino had a very impressive 15th best four-lap average time, with the open-wheel newcomer impressing all week with his pace and sensible approach, not putting a foot wrong.

He wasn’t the fastest rookie, as Benjamin Pedersen was 15th in terms of single lap time overall for AJ Foyt Racing. Canapino was 20th fastest over a single lap, while Pedersen had the 26th best four-lap average.

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