If practice Thursday is any indication, Marcus Ericsson could start the defense of his 2022 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge victory from the front of the field.
Ericsson turned the top lap, 39.1974 seconds, 229.607 mph, during the six-hour session under sunny skies at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the No. 8 Huski Ice Spritz Honda fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing. It was the fastest lap so far in two days of on-track activity this week, topping the 229.439 set Wednesday by Ericsson’s teammate and two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato.
Not only was Ericsson fastest overall with the benefit of an aerodynamic tow, but he also was the speediest car running alone, with a best “no-tow” lap of 224.414.
“A really good day for the whole Chip Ganassi team,” Ericsson said. “Yesterday we worked a lot on the race cars. We were good straight away. Then today we built on that. I think we did some changes overnight that helped me in my feeling in the car. Felt really happy with my race car. The organization has done a really good job again this year, with really good cars.”
2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon ended up second at 229.186 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, as CGR went 1-2 on the time sheets for the second straight day.
The top four drivers today all are past “500” champions, as 2019 winner Simon Pagenaud was third at 228.681 in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda fielded by Meyer Shank Racing. 2018 winner and reigning series champion Will Power was fourth at 228.577 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Power also was second fastest on the “no-tow” list, running 224.283 alone on the 2.5-mile oval.
Colton Herta rounded out the top five overall at 228.240 in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda fielded by Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian.
All 34 drivers competing for 33 spots in the starting field combined to turn 3,159 laps (7,897.5 miles) today in air temperatures that reached the low 80s.
Speeds will jump during the next practice from noon-6 p.m. ET Friday. The Honda and Chevrolet engines that power the field will feature approximately 100 more horsepower due to increased boost levels that also will be available during PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying on Saturday and Sunday. Public gates open at 10 a.m. for “Fast Friday.”
The 107th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 28 (11 a.m. ET, NBC, Peacock, Universo, INDYCAR Radio Network). PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying is Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21.