Dixon Fastest on Carb Day, Penske Finally Show Pace in Race Trim

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(Photo Credit: Matt Fraver / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Scott Dixon, the polesitter for the 105th Indianapolis 500, went fastest in the final practice session ahead of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”, while Team Penske finally showed race pace after their qualifying struggles with all four cars in the top ten.

“Carb Day”, as it’s known, was delayed due to rain, but when it got going teams immediately hit the track in the newly-extended two hour session. Track conditions were congested as teams practiced race pace and tested the strength of their cars in traffic. Dixon hit the track early, and twenty minutes into the session he blitzed the field with a lap of 228.323 mph, four miles per hour faster than the rest of the field. IndyCar’s “Iceman” packed the car up early with forty-five minutes left, showing the incredible confidence he has in his Chip Ganassi Racing machine.

Team Penske left a lot to be desired during qualifying, but showed that they have competitive cars at race pace. In last Sunday’s post-qualifying practice session Simon Pagenaud said that he still thought he had a “hot rod” after blowing a motor, and he backed it up going second fastest on Carb Day coming within one mile per hour of Dixon at a speed of 227.157 mph. Right behind him was Josef Newgarden in third, while Will Power and Scott McLaughlin finished sixth and seventh respectively. This has been the most competitive Penske’s cars have looked, and they will have their work cut out for them come Sunday to tear through the field.

Splitting the Penske machines were Conor Daly of Ed Carpenter Racing in fourth place and Marco Andretti of Andretti Herta-Haupert with Marco and Curb-Agajanian in fifth place. This marks yet another session that Daly has been consistently quick in, while Andretti continues to grow confidence in his car after fixing a broken floor that the team found before the post-qualifying practice session last Sunday. The floor has been replaced with one from a road course car, but Andretti stated that he felt more confident in this car than the car that he put on pole position for last year’s Indy 500.

Tony Kanaan finished the session eighth fastest and, like his teammate Dixon, finished up his day early, satisfied with the data gathered and confident that he has a potentially race-winning car for Sunday. Defending Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato finished the session ninth fastest for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, followed by another strong effort by Sage Karam and Dreyer and Reinbold Racing in tenth. Karam complained about a lack of power during the session, saying it felt like he was driving and Indy Lights car, but his car still looks much more comfortable in race conditions as opposed to qualifying.

Andretti Autosport‘s Colton Herta proved today that lap speeds don’t mean everything today, as many drivers felt like he had the pace and was difficult to overtake in the pack. Yet with all of these rave reviews from his competition, he only went twenty-eighth fastest in the session. Herta made a believer out of many drivers and fans today, and could possibly bring the fight to Dixon for the victory this weekend. Herta will start the race in second place.

Another noteworthy effort today was that of the Carlin team and driver Max Chilton. Chilton finished the session twelfth fastest, and said that he felt like this was the best car he’s ever had at the 500 with the team, so look for him to move through the midfield for a strong finish. He will start the race in twenty-ninth.

All that’s left now is to run the Indianapolis 500, which will get under way this Sunday, 30 May, at 1200 EST / 1700 BST.

2021 Indianapolis 500 “Carb Day” Final Practice Results

19Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing228.323
222Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske227.157
32Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske226.856
447Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing226.399
598Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Herta-Haupert w/ Marco & Curb-Agajanian226.396
612Will PowerAUSTeam Penske226.223
73Scott McLaughlin (R)NZLTeam Penske226.192
848Tony KanaanBRAChip Ganassi Racing225.929
930Takuma SatoJPNRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing225.701
1024Sage KaramUSADreyer & Reinbold Racing225.542
115Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP225.511
1259Max ChiltonGBRCarlin225.348
1327Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport225.324
1414Sebastien BourdaisFRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises225.163
156Helio CastronevesBRAMeyer Shank Racing225.161
1686Juan Pablo MontoyaCOLArrow McLaren SP225.149
171JR HildebrandUSAA.J. Foyt Enterprises224.945
1818Ed JonesUAEDale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan224.91
1915Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing224.872
2028Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport224.719
2129James HinchcliffeCANAndretti Autosport224.546
2210Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi Racing224.5
238Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing224.468
247Felix RosenqvistSWEArrow McLaren SP224.428
254Dalton KellettCANA.J. Foyt Enterprises224.051
2625Stefan WilsonGBRAndretti Autosport224.047
2745Santino FerrucciUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing223.884
2826Colton HertaUSAAndretti Autosport223.67
2960Jack HarveyGBRMeyer Shank Racing223.664
3020Ed CarpenterUSAEd Carpenter Racing223.654
3121Rinus VeeKayNEDEd Carpenter Racing223.068
3216Simona De SilvestroSUIParetta Autosport223.023
3351Pietro FittipaldiBRADale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing222.173
(R) = Rookie
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Lifelong sports junkie, currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Hofstra University. Lead writer for Indycar at The Checkered Flag.
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