Three indie 500 practice sessions down; Three times Takuma has rocketed to the top of the speed chart late in the day.
Alexander Rossi set Friday’s fastest pace at 231.883mph. Rick Ware Racing Honda cum Happy Hour with 51-time Dale Coin Racing, the two-time 500 champions Sato stood at 232.789mph for most of the afternoon.
“It’s a great feeling,” Sato said. “The whole team did a great job preparing for this.”
The six-hour session was a test of bravery for many drivers due to the disturbing wind gusts as wind gusts reached around 35mph at speeds of just over 20mph in the late afternoon. Taking a large dose of extra horsepower to use the rest of the weekend as a qualifying device, traditional four-lap simulations became rare as many drivers escaped after one or two laps for safety in an up-and-down situation.
Rossi’s speed promised for his Andretti autosport team even if he was an outlier. Romain Grossjein was behind Andreti Camp in P15, while Colton Herta, who made just seven laps, was last in P33. At Andretti Camp, it is believed that Rossi’s speed in Honda No. 27 could be reflected by the rest of the team on Saturday.
“Probably the strangest day at Speedway,” Rossi said. “We knew it would be very confusing because of the wind and the temperature. That’s all there is to it. We went out for our first [character] sim and it became a risk against the reward type of the day. We know our car is fast; He’s been strong all month.
Third, Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Word lifted the No. 5 Chevy to 231.798mph and faced the wild swings of Overseer and Understear as storms pushed his car around every lap. Chip Ganassi racing week continued with Marcus Ericsson at No. 4 with a speed of 231.782mph, Honda at No. 8 and Scott Dixon at No. 23 at Honda at No. 231.530mph. Dixon’s lap was particularly notable as it was set on the second lap of his day; The 2008 Indy 500 winner turned just four laps on Friday.
The top six were completed by O’Word’s teammate Felix Rosenquist who overtook IMS with a best speed of 231.493mph in No. 7 Chevy.
Among other runners, Sato’s striking teammate David Malukas impressed once again by claiming seventh place; Sage Karam was 13th for Dryer and Rainbold racing, and Dhuki Callum Elot was 16th for Junkos Hollinger racing.
The first and only incident of the week was recorded by CGR’s Jimmy Johnson who crashed into a wall while exiting the No. 48 Honda turn 2. After a few hours of repairs, the rookie got back on track where he finished 17th with a speed of 229.929mph. Lap
The major teams that have not yet revealed their pace include Rahul Letterman Lannigan Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing and A.J. Foyt Racing. There are many nights ahead of everyone hoping to be featured in Saturday’s quest to keep their cars in the Fast 12.