Ed Jones leads shortened third practice at Indy, O’Ward hits the wall

by Jordan Groves

Ed Carpenter Racing‘s Ed Jones ended the third day of 2019 Indianapolis 500 practice as the fastest driver. The Dubai-born British driver set his fastest-lap early on in the session, with running ending prematurely after rain hit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with an hour and a half left of practice.

Wednesday’s third practice session would be the last opportunity for drivers to practice race simulations for the next few days. Tomorrow’s ‘fast Friday’ practice session will see the cars running with qualifying boost levels, meaning that race simulations will be unrepresentative.

As a result, less qualifying simulations took place during the practice session today, but that did not stop the three Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet drivers once again showing their speed. Ed Jones would end the day with the fastest lap in his #63 ECR Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet, lapping the speedway with an average speed of 227.843-mph.

Jones’ team-mates, Spencer Pigot and team-boss Ed Carpenter, would end the day further back, but Ed Carpenter Racing has been amongst the only team other than Team Penske to remain towards the top of the scoring pylon in every session so far.

What was perhaps even more impressive for Jones was that he also took the fastest lap that was set without a slipstream for another car. His best no tow lap was a 224.957-mph average, with Pigot and Carpenter also in the top ten on that list. All three Ed Carpenter Racing cars qualified inside the top nine for last year’s Indianapolis 500. The team look to be going in a similar direction this year.

Ending the day second-fastest would be Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing‘s Takuma Sato with a best lap of 226.699-mph. Third would go to Andretti Autosport‘s Zach Veach, with Dale Coyne Racing‘s Sebastien Bourdais and Harding Steinbrenner Racing‘s Colton Herta completing the top five.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing‘s Sage Karam showed decent speed to take the sixth-fastest lap, with an average of 225.401, with a similarly decent run coming from seventh-placed Kyle Kaiser for Juncos Racing. Just one-thousandth of a second separated the pair.

The aforementioned Spencer Pigot was eighth-fastest ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Scott Dixon in ninth. The Penske’s of Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves were tenth and eleventh fastest respectively, with twelfth-placed James Davison and Ed Carpenter completing the top thirteen that all lapped in or above the 225-mph range.

Credit: Chris Jones / Courtesy of IndyCar

Further back, Carlin‘s Charlie Kimball ended the day sixteenth on the leaderboard, but he was an impressive fifth on the no tow time-sheet. Representatives from the team commented during the day that they were pleased with the progress they had made since taking part in their first Indianapolis 500 twelve months ago.

It was a similarly strong showing on the no tow list from the remaining three Andretti Autosport drivers. Marco AndrettiAlexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay all featured inside the top twelve, with the previously mentioned Veach also showing decently in sixteenth place.

The major headlines of the day, once again, were with those who did not have as great of a day as they would have liked. The third day of practice saw the third crash of the month of May, with Carlin’s Patricio O’Ward going for a wild ride in a similar incident to that seen by Felix Rosenqvist yesterday.

O’Ward was running on a very low line through turn two when the rear of his #31 Chevrolet stepped out. He would be sent rear-first into the outside wall, with the Carlin car almost flipping over before it, thankfully, landed back on all four wheels. The damage was enough to see O’Ward miss the rest of the day’s running whilst the team went about preparing their backup car, which was actually his team-mate Max Chilton‘s road course car previously. Patricio would end the day twenty-third fastest.

It was a day of getting back in the saddle for Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist. The team were also forced to a backup car after his accident yesterday, with Felix getting out on the track and easing himself back into a rhythm with a steady, but comparatively, slow pace. He would end the day thirty-fourth fastest of the thirty-five drivers that ran, with a fastest lap of just 221.697-mph.

Thirty-five of the thirty-six drivers on the entry list ran a lap in today’s session. The notable exception was McLaren Racing‘s, Fernando Alonso. The team were still repairing the #66 Chevrolet following Fernando’s crash yesterday. The team had hoped to get the car out with three hours remaining today, but that was not the case.

Ultimately, the session would end due to rain before the team could turn a single lap. This means that the team have lost a substantial amount of track time over the first three days of practice. With tomorrow’s session focusing on qualifying runs, this means the team won’t get a chance to have meaningful race preparations until the practice session immediately after qualifying on Sunday; assuming that they qualify for the race.

As things stand heading into fast Friday and the qualifying weekend, Alonso must be one of the potential drivers at risk of being one of the three unfortunate drivers that will fail to qualify for the race. Other drivers at risk continue to include the likes of DragonSpeed‘s Ben Hanley, who still looks like he is in need of some extra speed in order to avoid the bottom three elimination spots.

Credit: Matt Fraver / Courtesy of IndyCar

2019 NTT IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500 – Practice three top twelve results:

POSNO.DRIVERNATTEAMTIMESPEED (MPH)
163Ed JonesUAEEd Carpenter Racing39.5008227.843
230Takuma SatoJAPRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing39.7002226.699
326Zach VeachUSAAndretti Autosport39.8107226.070
418Sebastien BourdaisFRADale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan39.8238225.996
588Colton Herta (R)USAHarding Steinbrenner Racing39.9188225.458
624Sage KaramUSADreyer & Reinbold Racing39.9289225.401
732Kyle Kaiser (R)USAJuncos Racing39.9298225.396
821Spencer PigotUSAEd Carpenter Racing39.9406225.335
99Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing39.9467225.300
1022Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske39.9545225.256
113Helio CastronevesBRATeam Penske39.9747225.142
1233James DavisonAUSDale Coyne Racing with Byrd / Bollinger / Belardi39.9886225.064

Full results of practice three can be found by clicking the following link: http://www.imscdn.com/INDYCAR/Documents/5561/2019-05-16/indycar-results-p3.pdf

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