It was a wild and busy third day of practice for the Indianapolis 500 on Thursday. The temperatures were much warmer and the track was a little more difficult for the drivers to handle. When the checkered flag waved at 6 PM it was 2013 Indy 500 winner and 2004 series champion Tony Kanaan that sat at the top of the speed chart. Kanaan had a best lap of 225.341 mph in his No. 48 Honda, in what a dominant day for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Halfway through the practice session, the four Ganassi cars owned the top four spots on the speed chart. “It feels good,” Kanaan said. “Today has been the hottest day so far this week, so we’ve been to do a couple of things to kind of do the cookbook. You’re just trying to check the weather, what are we running in this type of weather, trying to guess when you’re going to qualify and then try to guess what’s going to happen next Sunday when we take the green flag. We’re just working on racing setup.”
Thursday Indianapolis 500 Practice Results
The day began in a bizarre way as the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team was set to stage a photo opportunity at the start/finish line with their three cars. Colton Herta and Scott McLaughlin got together coming out of Turn 4 as cars were slowing in front of them. The contact was not severe but it was an unnecessary scare for everyone involved.
IndyCar penalized RLL Racing for the incident, deeming it improper conduct per Rule 9.3.1 in the IndyCar Rulebook. Defending Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato, Graham Rahal, and Santino Ferrucci will not be allowed to participate in the first 30 minutes of practice on Friday. To put it mildly, team owner Bobby Rahal was not satisfied with the decision.
Ferrucci will have to get cleared to drive before he can get back in the car anyway. He was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for further evaluation of his left foot after being involved in the first major incident of practice this week. Shortly after 4 PM, Ferrucci’s No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda did a quarter-spin to the left in Turn 2 and made hard rear contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 before stopping on the back straightaway. The rear of the car suffered heavy damage.
The good news is that Santino was released from the hospital and was back in Gasoline Alley in the evening. Ferrucci ended up third-fastest overall, just behind Conor Daly. Their roles were reversed when the incident occurred, with Daly narrowly avoiding being collected. The Ed Carpenter Racing driver has been fast all week, much like his two teammates.
“It was tough earlier today,” Daly said. “We struggled. The rear of the car was moving around. One of the most difficult days I’ve been involved in. I think [Alex] Palou and Josef [Newgarden] are some of the best cars, so to be running with them, I’m happy.”
All 35 drivers put down laps on Thursday, including RC Enerson with Top Gun Racing. They managed to get in 50 laps of running as they continue to dial in their No. 75 Chevrolet ahead of qualifying weekend. Six drivers recorded more than 100 laps on Thursday, with Alex Palou (125) doing the most. A total of 2,870 laps were turned during the six-hour practice session.
Practice resumes from noon until 6 PM tomorrow, known as “Fast Friday.” It is the first day with elevated boost levels in the engine turbochargers, which continues through Saturday and Sunday for Crown Royal Armed Forces Qualifying. The additional boost will add between 80 and 90 horsepower and increase speeds.