Josef Newgarden set the fastest lap of practice today, the third time in five days. It wasn’t a picture perfect end though, as he lost control of his Dollar General machine coming out of turn four with just 15 minutes of practice time remaining. He brushed the outside wall before making contact with the inside wall with his left side.
The damage could have been much worse for the rookie, and he said that he was “counting his blessings” after he climbed out of the wrecked car. While his last lap was forgetable, his 45th lap of the day was the best among all drivers, at 222.785 mph. Marco Andretti was the only other driver to hit the 222 mph barrier on Wednesday.
The three full-time Andretti Autosport drivers were all right behind Newgarden on the speed chart, and Dario Franchitti rounded out the top five. Six of the top ten cars were Honda representatives, with the other four going to Chevrolet.
Besides Newgarden, we had a couple of other storylines on the fifth day of practice for the Indy 500. Dragon Racing appears to have things sorted out with Lotus, as they were putting up Chevrolet signs in their garage and pit stalls. Katherine Legge is supposedly going to get her Rookie Orientation started on Thursday. The Chevrolet engines were fired up inside the Dragon garage, so it appears the dust has finally settled on this one.
An announcement came today from IMS about their plans to honor Dan Wheldon at this years race. His 2011 winning car was restored and was put in the IMS Museum next to Ray Harroun’s Wasp. The plan is to have Bryan Herta drive the car around for a parade lap before the start of the race. Also, every car in the field will carry a special Dan Wheldon sticker. The emotions are sure to be high, as Holly and Susie Wheldon will be in attendance as we celebrate Dan’s life.
While exploring the garage area trying to figure out the Dragon Racing situation this afternoon, I came across a familiar face in Gasoline Alley. Vitor Meira was here, although he did not wish to comment on why, or his future plans for that matter.
Both of the Lotus cars made significant laps today, although they were both still noticeably slow. Alesi ran 46 laps with a best of 205.389 mph, while Simona put in 57 laps with a best of 205.009 mph. They were easily the slowest of the 30 cars on Wednesday, still 10 mph slower than everyone else. It should be noted that the Corvette Z71 pace car can also reach the 205 mph mark.
It was a very busy day of practice, with all of the announcements, breaking news, and first yellow for something other than debris/track inspection. Thursday’s practice should once again be filled with sunshine and warmer temperatures. Practice will run from noon to 6 pm.