For the second straight day, the top spot on the overall speed chart went to a driver with a legendary last name. Marco Andretti was fastest yesterday, but today it was Graham Rahal that led the field in his RLL Racing Honda. Rahal’s fast lap of 226.047 mph came very early in the day, when most teams and drivers were just getting out on track.
The fast lap came during a qualification simulation, which ended up with a tow from Stefan Wilson, who came out onto the track just in front of him on the backstretch. Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner, was second on the speed chart in his ABC Supply Chevrolet. Will Power had the fastest no-tow lap of the day, at 223.971 mph.
Indianapolis 500 Practice Results
All 35 drivers once again made it out, turning a total of 2,771 laps during the seven-hour session. Though it wasn’t as busy as yesterday, the threat of rain over the course of the next three days kept things moving. Helio Castroneves turned the most laps (110) on Thursday. The three-time Indy 500 winner was eighth overall on today’s speed chart.
Unfortunately today was not free of any incident. For the first time this month, a driver made contact with the wall. In the final 20 minutes of practice, JR Hildebrand went wide coming out of Turn 3, and brushed the wall in the short chute. His Dreyer & Reinbold Racing machine suffered some damage, and will need to be repaired. The good news is that Hildebrand was okay, and has been cleared to drive again by IndyCar.
“The car felt out of the ordinary,” Hildebrand said. “I didn’t feel like I was losing the car at all. I thought for sure I could save the car, which why I’m a little confused on what happened. I did have enough warning to keep it under control. It felt like I had a wacky wheel of a shopping cart because the car kept wobbling a bit. But I’m fine and ready to go tomorrow. I feel badly for the crew guys getting the car repaired now. I’m looking forward to Friday’s runs.”
Drivers spent most of the day running in groups to get a feel for how the cars will work in traffic. During the middle of the day, things were a little slower as teams worked in some qualifying simulations. Weather permitting, there will be a rise in speeds tomorrow, for “Fast Friday” at the speedway. This is the final day of practice before qualifications this weekend. IndyCar permits an increase in engine turbocharger boost of 100 millibars, which is about 50 additional horsepower.
There have now been 8,028 total laps run in practice this month, and hopefully there will be more tomorrow. Practice is once again scheduled to run from 11 AM to 6 PM.