Pagenaud leads the way on Fast Friday

Simon Pagenaud ended with the fastest time for a second consecutive day as speeds rose around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Fast Friday, the day before qualifying begins for the 99th running of the Indy 500.

The Frenchman’s best lap of 230.698mph was enough to see the Team Penske driver end the day on top, with the top six drivers all exceeding 230mph, while the top twenty-seven drivers all exceeded 228mph, with the gap from P1 to P27 equating to roughly four tenths of a second over the legendary 2.5mile oval.

“The conditions were difficult,” said Pagenaud. “The conditions were finally hot and there are a lot of differences in how the body kits react depending on the weather.

“For Team Penske, the biggest thing is we worked really well as a team to get different versions of aero levels for tomorrow and understanding that, so we can look at that information tonight and decided very precisely what we need.”

Chip Ganassi Racing were second and third quickest, with Scott Dixon ahead of Tony Kanaan, while Marco Andretti was the leading Andretti Autosport and Honda-powered machine in fourth, ahead of Will Power of Team Penske.

“It was hard to tell with the conditions changing so much out there today,” said Dixon afterwards. “It was hot and slippery in the late afternoon but better in the early afternoon. I was happy with the speed in the Target car but I think there is more in it.

“We have go look over everything tonight and look at where we can make improvements. Qualifying here at Indy is always a challenge and you never know what the weather will throw at you.”

Sage Karam continued his very strong week in a third Chip Ganassi Racing entry, finishing ahead of the impressive rookie Gabby Chaves in the sole Bryan Herta Autosport entry, while Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya were eighth and tenth in the final two Team Penske entries, either side of the AJ Foyt Enterprises machine of Takuma Sato.

For the first time all week, all thirty-four drivers turned laps, with Pippa Mann getting back on track in the final moments of the day for the first time since her crash on Wednesday.

“Words cannot describe how proud I am of the Dale Coyne Racing crew for getting this car built and getting us back out on track today for an install lap and a shakedown,” said Mann, who managed to get up to 225.457mph during her late six-lap run.

“I’m so thankful to them for all the work that went into this and it is so great for us to have that baseline going into tomorrow for the qualifying effort. I am hopeful going into tomorrow that I’ll have a strong qualifying effort in my Dale Coyne Racing car supporting Susan G. Komen.”

Whereas the discrepancy isn’t noticeable between Chevrolet and Honda power in the lap times with tow, it is more revealing with laps without a tow, with eight of the top ten all using Chevrolet power, with Dixon leading the way with a lap of 230.655mph.

Indianapolis 500 Fast Friday Practice Times

122Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske230.698
29Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing230.655
310Tony KanaanBRZChip Ganassi Racing230.457
427Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Autosport230.312
51Will PowerAUSTeam Penske230.206
68Sage KaramUSAChip Ganassi Racing230.166
798Gabby ChavesCOLBryan Herta Autosport229.891
83Helio CastronevesBRZTeam Penske229.852
914Takuma SatoJAPAJ Foyt Enterprises229.808
102Juan Pablo MontoyaCOLTeam Penske229.714
1141Jack HawksworthGBRAJ Foyt Enterprises229.495
1224Townsend BellUSADreyer & Reinbold Racing229.381
136JR HildebrandUSACFH Racing229.353
1426Carlos MunozCOLAndretti Autosport229.106
1583Charlie KimballUSAChip Ganassi Racing229.024
1628Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport229.023
175James HinchcliffeCANSchmidt Peterson Racing229.021
184Stefano ColettiMONKV Racing Technology229.018
1915Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing228.977
2020Ed CarpenterUSACFH Racing228.885
2132Oriol ServiaESPRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing228.878
2225Justin WilsonGBRAndretti Autosport228.722
2317Sebastian SaavedraCOLAFS Chip Ganassi Racing228.691
2429Simona de SilvestroSWIAndretti Autosport228.640
2548Alex TaglianiCANAJ Foyt Enterprises228.621
2618Carlos HuertasCOLDale Coyne Racing228.555
2743Conor DalyUSASchmidt Peterson Racing228.306
2821Josef NewgardenUSACFH Racing227.855
297James JakesGBRSchmidt Peterson Racing227.588
3011Sebastien BourdaisFRAKVSH Racing227.424
3188Bryan ClausonUSAKVSH Racing226.909
3219Tristan VautierFRADale Coyne Racing226.860
3363Pippa MannGBRDale Coyne Racing225.457
3491Buddy LazierUSALazier Partners Racing216.103