Pole-sitter Pagenaud fastest in penultimate Indy 500 practice session

by Jordan Groves

Less than twenty-four hours after sensationally claiming pole position for the 2019 Indianapolis 500Team Penske‘s Simon Pagenaud was back on the top of the scoring pylon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Frenchman finished the penultimate practice session before Sunday’s race as the fastest driver, as the thirty-three competitors hit the track to practice group running.

The thirty-three qualified drivers had a slightly shorter practice session compared to that seen throughout last week. Despite that, many of the drivers flirted with completing half a race distance in the session. After qualifying yesterday, the turbo boost of the cars was turned back down to race levels, hence the reduced lap speeds on the time-sheets by the end of the session.

Fresh from his pole position, Penske’s Pagenaud would set the fastest lap of the practice session, with his lap of 228.441-mph coming on his last flying lap of the day. He would be backed up in second-place by Penske team-mate Josef Newgarden, who was the only other driver in the session to lap in the 228-mph range.

The third-fastest driver would be Arrow Schmidt Peterson‘s, James Hinchcliffe. Yesterday, the Canadian was at risk of failing to qualify for the race. Today, his #5 Honda looked competitive once again, with James pulling off several moves on other cars during the session.

Fourth-fastest would go to Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Scott Dixon, with perhaps the strongest looking driver of the session, Alexander Rossi, just behind in fifth place for Andretti. Rossi’s car looked to be the best at negotiation traffic throughout, with the Californian hoping to showcase his passing prowess on Sunday, as he did in last year’s race.

Carlin‘s Charlie Kimball took the sixth-fastest time of the session, just ahead of four-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the #3 Penske. Just behind Helio was the fourth and final Penske of defending Indy 500 winner, Will Power, meaning that all four Penske drivers featured in the top ten in today’s session; perhaps foreshadowing a strong race for the Penske quartet.

Ganassi’s rookie, Felix Rosenqvist and Dale Coyne Racing‘s James Davison completed the top ten in the session, with veteran Tony Kanaan and rookie Marcus Ericsson just outside the top ten in eleventh and twelfth respectively. Kanaan also took to the track in his team-mate, Matheus Leist‘s #4 Chevrolet during the session.

Additionally, Rosenqvist and Ericsson were responsible for a scare towards the end of the session, when the pair were sent up the race-track whilst battling. Ericsson would lightly tag the wheel, but serious damage for the pair was, thankfully, avoided.

The Ed Carpenter Racing trio, who all qualified in the top four yesterday, were further down on the time-sheets than you might have expected. Ed Carpenter was fifteenth fastest ahead of Spencer Pigot in seventeenth and Ed Jones down in thirtieth. The team will be looking to finally convert a strong qualifying position into a race win on Sunday.

The aforementioned Rossi was almost the only Andretti driver to make it into the top twenty. Marco Andretti just snuck into the top twenty in nineteenth place, with the remaining drivers, Conor DalyZach Veach and Ryan Hunter-Reay further back in positions twenty-four, twenty-six and twenty-nine. Andretti-affiliate team, Harding Steinbrenner Racing, would take the twentieth fastest-time with Colton Herta.

Following practice today, the thirty-three drivers will all travel to various locations across North America as a part of the traditional media tour prior to the race. One final practice session will take place this Friday, May 24. The race itself, the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500, will be run this weekend on Sunday, May 26.

Credit: Walter Kuhn / Courtesy of IndyCar

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

POSNO.DRIVERNATTEAMSPEED (MPH)
122Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske228.441
22Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske228.273
35James HinchcliffeCANArrow Schmidt Peterson227.994
49Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing227.951
527Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport227.660
623Charlie KimballUSACarlin227.645
73Helio CastronevesBRATeam Penske227.614
812Will PowerAUSTeam Penske227.480
910Felix Rosenqvist (R)SWEChip Ganassi Racing227.414
1033James DavisonAUSDale Coyne Racing with Byrd / Bollinger / Belardi227.393
1114Tony KanaanBRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises227.295
127Marcus Ericsson (R)SWEArrow Schmidt Peterson227.041

Full results of practice can be found by clicking the following link: http://www.imscdn.com/INDYCAR/Documents/5557/2019-05-20/indycar-results-p8.pdf

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