The Verizon IndyCar Series took to Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday for day three of practice for the 2018 Indianapolis 500. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing‘s Graham Rahal finished the day as the fastest driver in the #15 Honda.
Rahal’s fastest lap of Thursday came very early on in the session. Once again, the fastest times of the day came quickly, with focus switching to race setups for the remaining hours of on-track action.
Graham would lap the speedway with an average speed of 226.047-mph to take the fastest time of the day, but he would fall just over 1-mph short of Marco Andretti‘s fastest lap of the month so far; a 227.053-mph average set in yesterday’s session.
Tony Kanaan came very close to beating Rahal’s time. The #14 A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet driver was just three-hundredths of a second off of Rahal’s best lap, but he would have to settle for second. Marco Andretti would take the third fastest time of the day, with Ed Carpenter once again inside the top ten on the time-sheets this week in fourth place.
Sage Karam also continued to be a regular feature in the top ten. He would put his #24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet in fifth place in the seven-hour session, with reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden just behind in sixth place for Team Penske in the #1 car.
Rookie driver Zachary Claman De Melo had his best showing of the week so far. He was only announced to be running in this year’s Indy 500 on Monday and passed his rookie orientation test on Tuesday. Yesterday, he was seventh fastest in the #19 Dale Coyne Racing Paysafe Honda; two tenths off of Rahal’s best time.
Helio Castroneves was one of the only drivers to set their fastest time in the closing stages of yesterday’s running. He was eighth fastest for Penske and he also completed the most laps of any other driver; running 110 laps – over half the total race distance – during the day.
Spencer Pigot for Ed Carpenter Racing and Gabby Chaves for Harding Racing completed the top ten yesterday, with Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon just outside in eleventh and twelfth respectively.
Whilst we did not see a new fastest lap of May yesterday, we did see a driver hit the wall for the first time this month. That unfortunate accolade went to JR Hildebrand in the Dreyer & Reinbold #66 car. The contact came in the final twenty minutes of the day when JR went wide on the exit of turn three and clipped the outside wall.
The hit damaged the right side of his car, which then sent him wall-riding through turn four. The car eventually came to a stop at the start of the main straight-away, with Hildebrand thankfully unscathed as he climbed out of the car. Despite the contact, JR would finish the day, albeit prematurely, in twentieth place.
Once again, a number of drivers that you would expect to be quick were further down the table. Former Indy 500 winners Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Takuma Sato were twenty-second, twenty-sixth and thirty-third respectively, with a number of other possible contenders such as Carlos Munoz, Robert Wickens and James Hinchcliffe also near the bottom of the time-sheets.
Again, the times set yesterday cannot be taken too seriously when it comes to working out who has the ultimate pace. We should get a better idea of who is where in the fourth practice day that takes place later today. The “Fast Friday” session will see the teams turn up the boost on their cars, making the speeds much more representative of what we will see in qualifying on Saturday and Sunday.
2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500 – Practice day three – Top twelve results:
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The full time-sheet for yesterday’s practice session can be found by clicking the following link: http://www.imscdn.com/INDYCAR/Documents/5318/2018-05-17/indycar-results-p4.pdf