Indy 500 Practice: Andretti turns fastest IMS lap since 1996
Marco Andretti produced a 233.491mph lap of Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Fast Friday as qualifying turbo boost was increased, although the Andretti Herta Autosport entry did have the aid of a tow.
With the turbo boost turned up from 1.3-bar to 1.5-bar in preparation for qualifying weekend, the Hondas are looking very strong at half-distance in the 6hrs30min session, although their dominance is perhaps skewed by handling difficulties for all four Team Penske-Chevrolets.
Andretti Autosport-Honda’s Zach Veach was the first driver to run a 230mph lap, with temporary teammate James Hinchcliffe hitting 231.
2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay moved the bar though, with a lap of 232.124, but more relevant for qualifying was that his four-lap average was a very impressive 231.2mph.
Marco Andretti then delivered his 233.491mph, tripping the Turn 1 and 3 speedtraps above 239mph, but his fastest no-tow speed was 227.609mph. His second run, around an hour later as the heat increased, featured a first lap more than 231, but his speed ebbed away on subsequent laps. However, he eventually set a four-lap average over 230. Conor Daly’s first significant run in his Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet saw him too receive a tow.
Inserting himself into the Andretti mix was the Citrone/Buhl Autosport-RLL entry of last year’s front-row starter Spencer Pigot with a 232mph lap, something that Dixon was able to emulate – but only after the #9 Chip Ganassi Racing crew had a frustrating 45min struggle on pitlane with an apparent electrical gremlin.
Team Penske was disappointed by Josef Newgarden’s first run which failed to crack the 230mph barrier because the handling wasn’t good enough for him to hold the throttle flat all the way around even on his first lap, when grip was at its best. Teammate Will Power’s looked more consistent across the four laps but again his best was only 229.650mph, 11th on the four-lap average at the time, while Helio Castroneves’ car looked like an understeering beast. Simon Pagenaud was the fastest of the Penskes on their first run with a 230mph lap.
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