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Indy 500 practice notebook: Day 3

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Pato O'Ward speeds down the frontstretch during practice for the 2024 Indy 500.

Another day of practice for the 108th Running of the Indy 500 is in the books, and it was yet another day interrupted by rain. However, before the drops started to come down, teams got about six hours of green flag action, the most of any of the three practice days so far.

Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward posted the fastest overall speed of the day at 228.861 miles per hour, which is the third-fastest lap of any practice session. Speaking on his speed so far this week, the Mexican driver is just having fun with it.

It’s always fun to go out there and start playing around with everybody and just seeing kind of what cars are fast, what cars are not as strong as you or stronger than you. Every lap around here, you learn.

Scott McLaughlin‘s lap from Wednesday still reigns as the fastest of the week, and that momentum continued on Thursday. The Penske driver went second on the day behind O’Ward at 227.316. Last year’s polesitter Alex Palou finished third on the speed charts just shy of the 227 mph mark.

The first accident-related caution of the week came just over an hour into the running, which started two hours earlier than its original noon start time due to delays and cancellations from showers on Tuesday and Wednesday. Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Linus Lundqvist dipped too far below the white line in Turn 2, triggering a slide and a sidepod-to-wall collision at the beginning of the back straight. Lundqvist’s No. 8 Honda required a full suspension change. Although the Swede didn’t make it back out to the track before the checkered flag, he did finish with the seventh-fastest overall lap speed.

Another Swede, Andretti Global’s Marcus Ericsson took a similar hit with two hours left in the practice session, touching his tires to the lighter-colored concrete in Turn 4. The 2022 Indy 500 winner slid across the track after hitting the outside wall, hitting the inside wall and the pit lane attenuator. While Ericsson was okay, his car is beyond repair, and the No. 28 team will go to a backup car with the same engine starting on Friday.

Kyle Larson had a rough start to his day, which started with a complete engine change. Things didn’t get that much better for the 25-time NASCAR Cup Series winner, who posted the 25th-best overall speed, ranking 23rd as far as no-tow speeds go. Larson expressed his frustration with how the day played out, describing his day as “boring and frustrating” after running just 29 laps, the third-lowest of any driver on the entry list. A.J. Foyt Racing’s Santino Ferrucci also saw some struggles, posting the 22nd-fastest lap of the day while dealing with an unknown issue that caused his Chevy to run very loose in the corners.

James Black/Penske Entertainment

With the first day of qualifying just over 24 hours away, most teams are fully focused on dialing in their qualifying setups with a 100 horsepower boost coming for Friday’s six-hour practice session. Colton Herta and Andretti Global have dominated in clean air, with all four of the team’s entries in the top eight on the no-tow charts.

The two caution periods totalled just over two hours, including the weather delay that followed Ericsson’s crash. Rain has now impacted every day of Indy 500 practice so far, and is forecasted to continue through the night in the Indianapolis area and stop in the early morning hours before practice gets started again at noon. No rain is in the forecast during practice at the time of writing. Should rain halt the running tomorrow, O’Ward expects extra practice time to be awarded before qualifying on Saturday in order to get drivers acclimated to the significantly higher speeds:

We’re going to need to get a few runs in with the boost.” said O’Ward. “You’ll see guys today getting super consistent four-lap runs, but as soon as those boosts come up, some fourth laps for people are going to be like — I mean, you feel it. It’s just so much faster.

Fast Friday practice starts at noon tomorrow, with the track open (pending weather) with no schedules breaks for the following six hours. Coverage can be seen on Peacock.


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Born and raised in the suburbs of Indianapolis, Gabe joined the TCF team in 2023 to cover the IndyCar Series. He currently studies Broadcast and Digital Journalism at Syracuse University. You can follow him on Twitter @gabe_perrin.
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