Today was Carb Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the final tuneup for cars and drivers before the big race on Sunday. The final practice session was 90 minutes long, and produced a total of 1,755 laps among the 33 drivers. Fortunately the session was incident free, and featured plenty of exciting action on the track. Tony Kanaan turned in the fastest lap of 225.517 mph, though he did admit after the session that he received a big tow on that particular lap.
Though a Chevrolet took the top spot on the final speed chart, it was Honda who cleaned up after that. They had eight cars in the top 11 which included two Indianapolis 500 champions in Takuma Sato and Alexander Rossi.
Carb Day Final Practice Results
“A good day for us,” said Kanaan, who will start his 18th Indy 500 this weekend. “Obviously, conditions look like pretty similar to what we’re going to see on Sunday, hopefully. It was a pretty easy day for us. I wasn’t really happy with my car on Monday and I was extremely vocal about it, and I think my engineers heard me, so we made it better today.”
The Freedom 100 was wild. The race began with a few mechanical issues, followed by a terrifying crash involving Chris Windom and David Malukas. Fortunately both drivers were okay, although Malukas did get struck in the head by a tire.
Oliver Askew and Ryan Norman battled in the closing laps, and it was Askew that edged him at the yard of bricks by just 0.0067 seconds. Norman led 29 of the 40 laps, but it was Askew that took the lead exiting Turn 4 on the final lap. Askew stretched his championship lead to 21 points, in what was the fourth closest finish in race history.
Following the Indy Lights race was the Pit Stop Competition, where nine crews battled on pit lane. The final showdown was between Ganassi’s Scott Dixon, and Arrow SPM’s Marcus Ericsson. In the best-of-three shootout, it was Ericsson that came out victorious. The No. 7 team won the decisive third heat in 11.794 seconds, the best time clocked by any crew in the entire competition. The team had finished runner-up in each of the last three years.
The cars will now rest in Gasoline Alley until the big day on Sunday. Coverage for the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 will begin at 11 AM ET on NBC. The tape-delayed broadcast of the race will be shown in Indianapolis at 8 PM.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: “The final practice went OK. I think the car is in the window. We just need to make sure that we get it right on race day. It’s nice to get some laps. We did some pit stops. The guys looked really good. It’s time for the race.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES: “We collected a lot of data and understood some bad things and we learned some good things in case we need to use the data during the race. It was a little tough in traffic. I’d be running 230 miles an hour and come up behind someone doing 190. It’s a little unrealistic, to be honest I do believe that we learned some things that will be useful during the race.”
MATHEUS LEIST: “Things didn’t quite go the way we wanted it to in the No. 4 car, but the team will debrief with car No. 14 engineers to see where they’re at and what they think because they seem to be fast. We had some good cars before this practice, so it’s just a matter of putting it all together and figure out what’s going to be the best car for the race.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: “You know it’s funny, I think we were a little more confident with our start setup than it ending up being. But I’m very thankful that we ended up having an extra 30 minutes this year in Carb Day, because we made a lot of changes to the Arrow car, but all of them were positive. So, I think where we ended was the best balance that we’ve had all day and certainly much more race-able car. The conditions were a lot trickier than Monday; it’s a lot hotter, the wind is a bit different. I think a lot of guys are struggling. We chipped away at it, and I’m really proud of the progress we made.”
MARCUS ERICSSON: “It was another good session. I think the Arrow car was quite different on Monday. The conditions obviously changed with all the rain we’ve had and it became very hot. So I feel we have a bit to work on to get the right feeling there in traffic, but it’s still part of that learning curve. Now we have another day to sort of think about it and how to set it up for Sunday. We have a good baseline to work from, but I wasn’t 110 percent happy today but that’s how it goes sometimes. Like I said, we still have a good base to work from, we just have to tweak it a bit for Sunday.”
SCOTT DIXON: “I don’t know what happened there with the PNC Bank car honestly. I hope we find something wrong with the car because it wasn’t great. It’s really bizarre, and nothing like we had all month, so we are unsure. We are perplexed as to why this is, there are a lot of new parts on the car – including the gear box, bell housings, uprights, etc. So hopefully we find something that is a little off. We were just trying to get through some last-minute items, but ultimately it was not great anyway, so we are trying to figure out why. There is a fundamental issue on the car and we’ll work to find out what happened there.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST: “It was a bit of different conditions today. Hopefully it will be like this on race day, so we have an idea of what it is going to be like. It felt a bit different in the NTT DATA car today – we had some things to change to make it feel right. The car felt better than it did last time, so it’s getting better and better. We’re going to keep working out there and we should be good.”
WILL POWER: “It’s very, very difficult to make the car work in traffic. We’ll go back and talk about it and see what kind of changes we need to make.” (About if he is frustrated): “Yeah, we’re not good enough at the moment. I don’t really see anyone good out there. I haven’t seen anyone that looks spectacular. But based off last year, the car’s definitely not as nice.”
TONY KANAAN: “A good day for us. Obviously, conditions look like pretty similar to what we’re going to see on Sunday hopefully, so you know, it was a pretty easy day for us. I wasn’t really happy with my car on Monday, and I was extremely vocal about it, and I think my engineers heard me, so we made it better today. I was really working on my car, the level of downforce and grip that I wanted to have starting 16th. So really we worked in traffic a lot and are trying to find the grip, and scan to some of the items that we had on the list to be able to — once we put ourselves in the front during the race — know what to do. It’s the most competitive field I’ve ever seen in my 18 years here. Qualifying was extremely hard, and it’s really tight. So yeah, I think it’s going to be a difficult race. I do strongly believe that everybody, every single guy starting this race, and girl, they think they can win this race, which is true.”
GRAHAM RAHAL: “The United Rentals Honda was good there at the end, and I’m a cautiously optimistic person, so if I tell you it’s good, it’s good. I was able to pass a lot of guys, I was up there with the Penske boys at the end. If it stays like that and we get ourselves into a good position, then I think we have a good chance at this thing. There are some things we have to overcome but it felt good; it felt really good, so we’ll see.” (About brush with the wall): “The car was OK and then all of a sudden it just took off with understeer and brushed the wall. I had it one other time and I was actually leading a pack at that point and the front just gave up. With the wind like this, it gets a little bit gusty. I was behind two or three cars and if you get a crosswind and hit the wake, it’s going to go. I had one close call but the rest of the time the United Rentals car was really good.”
SANTINO FERRUCCI: “We were having fun. The No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda is in really good shape. We could pass about everybody and we’re quick, so there isn’t much else to say really. We’re looking forward to the race.”
ED CARPENTER: “The biggest thing we wanted for today was to get out in more race-like conditions. I feel good about the data we got and the changes we made in order to see improvements on the car. It definitely looked like a hard session for everyone, which is a good thing in my eyes. The temperature was a big factor in making today’s session hard. We could always use more practice, but I think we have had a really great week and a half of preparation. I’m really happy with the day we had and I’m ready to line us all up and get the race going.”
SPENCER PIGOT: “It was a pretty good session today. It was difficult out there with today’s conditions, but it was more representative of what race day is going to look like. We’ve learned a lot over the past few weeks. We will go through everything one more time and make our best decisions for the race.”
SIMON PAGENAUD: “Had a great time in the Menards Chevy. It’s good to get a reading on the car in these temps because it’s a bit complicated as far as all of the different factors the engineers consider. We aren’t going to leave any stones unturned and we’ll be ready on Sunday.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL: “I feel really good going into the weekend and I’m really happy with where we finished in this final practice. We’ve had a really solid month so far. The No. 23 crew with Carlin has done an excellent job every time we’ve hit the track for practice, qualifying, and now today for Carb Day. I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to pay them back on race day with a good result after all of their hard work. We worked through some stuff today and just verified a few things we needed to get worked out. A couple of things we thought were going to work did and then a few things we thought might not work, didn’t, but I’ve got to say that it’s nice when everything makes sense.”
SAGE KARAM: “We were passing cars today with the hotter conditions. So that is very good. The conditions were nearly perfect on Monday at the low 60s. Now, we are 20 degrees warmer and the heat definitely affects the cars. Everyone lost an overall level of grip and the cars slide a bit more. I never saw anyone drive around me. So I like that aspect. We had a slight vibration that we’ll work on now. We are not sure where that comes from right now. Hey, every year I have to come from behind at Indy and I think we can do it again on Sunday. It won’t be easy to pass in the hotter conditions. We have a great pit crew who always makes up spots in the pits. I think that can play a big factor Sunday. We are in the first pit box off of Turn 4 and that can help get me in the pits quickly. We want to get to that checkered flag this year.”
CONOR DALY: “It was good we got to run today in the heat – that’s more representative of race time. I still think the car balance is pretty solid. I’d like to find just a few small pieces for the race, but in the end happy that we haven’t dropped off a cliff or anything. The U.S. Air Force is still pretty good in the long run, so hopefully we are good for the race.”
ZACH VEACH: “I think, as a team, there’s a lot left unanswered that we are trying to figure out. We have a lot of variables going on – weather being one of those, whether it’s going to be raining or going it’s going to be hot. We’ve had a lot of time to try each corner of the box to know what we have for each condition. But I think that Sunday is going to be a bit of a roll of the dice to see what happens.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI: “As we expected, the track temp is different than it has been all month in terms of group running. We tried a couple different things to bring the car into the window and I think we found something, so hopefully we can put it all together for Sunday.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “The conditions were trickier today. It’s good that we had the chance to run in hotter temperatures. It’s more indicative of what we can expect on race day. We made some changes to approve the car and we’ll need to make a few more. But we’ll prepare for the race with the team and put our best foot forward on Sunday.”
TAKUMA SATO: “I think we have a strong package, not the strongest package we’ve had, but I think we made good progress. We will have a look at data and compare the three cars to see if there’s anything we can squeeze out of the speed and stability for Sunday. I think the Indy 500 is tough year by year, month by month, hour by hour, it’s a different scenario. One thing you know is that you’ve been there, and you know how to get the job done and what to look for. I think the guys did a great job. I’m leading the engineering data toward what I want to and I think we’re getting really close to that.”
KYLE KAISER: “Overall today’s practice session was challenging to say the least. I think the weather conditions definitely made it really tough to run behind other cars. I think we’re trying to find the balance a little, but I think we’ll be able to make up for it. I think it was good that we collected that data today to get a good car for race day come Sunday. We’ll see how the weather compares (to today), but overall really happy with this team continuing to work hard and put together a good package for us. Having 250oK, NFP, GMR, and Hagerty as sponsors on the car is amazing.”
JAMES DAVISON: “Where we ended up on the speed chart doesn’t exactly represent what kind of session we had. Out of nowhere the car was very loose in race trim. It’s not like the conditions changed drastically. We pitted six or seven times trying to improve the No. 33 Dale Coyne with Byrd and Belardi car. The team made all the right, appropriate changes. Anything we did to the car it never got better. Hopefully, that ‘boogeyman’ or whatever else we want to call what was there, runs away and we don’t run into that on race day. But I have confidence in the team that we’ll cure our problem.”
JORDAN KING: “Obviously we’re high up on the time screen. That’s a decent tow lap and it’s difficult to say with the track conditions, but I think we’ve got a good balance in the car just lacking in traffic. I think we’ll go back and work on a bit more of our traffic pace, but overall I’m reasonably happy. I think if we can just sort a couple things out we’ll be good. I’ll let you know if I’m comfortable about 50 laps into the race.”
JR HILDEBRAND: “We made a couple of changes towards the end of the session that really helped the car. We need to make a change in our gearing strategy a little. We talked about it ahead of time and today’s runs just confirmed what we were thinking for the race. How fast the cars go through the air is always big deal here. The aero package has changed a bit from last year. We did a lot of race setup running earlier last week that gave a us a good platform for race trim. It was warmer today and I feel that as the conditions get warmer that plays into when we have been better. We want to get into the playing window that works well with this car. Overall, the DRR guys always have concentrated on the race setup. I could tell that when I was at ECR (Ed Carpenter Racing) and racing against (now teammate) Sage (Karam).”
JACK HARVEY: “We keep learning more about the car all the time, but we still have more work to do before Sunday. We ticked some things off our list in the short practice session. I never really know how optimistic to feel about IMS, but now I feel OK. A little more massaging on the car is what we need to do to have something good on race day. Now it’s all about focusing on the race and the most exciting part of race weekend is I get to be a part of the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500.”
ED JONES: “It was a tough session. After the rain, the track conditions were a little different. Depending on the conditions on Sunday we will decide what to do next. We still did a good number of laps and good pit stops which is good practice for race day. Hopefully today was tougher than how it is going to feel on race day.”
COLTON HERTA: “Carb Day was really hot today and very humid which seemed to cause everyone’s car to move around more while we were on track. I don’t know how easy it’ll be to pass on during the race, but we have a fast and really good car where we can capitalize on people’s mistakes and take the No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda to the front on Sunday.”
MARCO ANDRETTI: “We didn’t find exactly what we wanted in today’s practice. We need to make the right moves tonight so we have a car to push to the front on Sunday. It’s a long race and it’s only the last lap that matters, so our plan is to drive clean and move forward and be leading that final lap.”