INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – In a howling wind strong enough to topple trees, Scott Dixon still felt the need to go fast this afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Just not too fast.
Dixon and 13 other drivers got over 216 mph as a steady southerly wind at 25 mph occasionally gusted to more than 35 mph during the third day of practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
Dixon recorded 47 laps while trying to get the setup on his No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda to his liking. His fastest lap – 222.599 mph – was the second-fastest of the day overall and the 2008 Indy 500 winner said he wasn’t bothered by the conditions.
“To be honest, it’s not that bad once you’re out there,” Dixon said.
Minor tree damage and spotty power outages caused by wind were reported around central Indiana. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing confirmed that the mast – the pole that stands above pit equipment to record, among other things, wind speed – in Oriol Servia’s pit stall was broken by a gust of wind.
Dixon, who wasn’t pleased with his setup during practice sessions Monday and Tuesday, said the team made progress today despite the wind.
“It was nothing too crazy for us,” said the 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner and four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion. “We tried to get through some big-ticket items. We weren’t real happy with the car (Tuesday) across the board. Actually, with all four (Ganassi) cars, we’ve been struggling. We had some ideas we needed to try, and actually today felt a lot better than (Tuesday). That’s a good improvement.”
Only 14 of the 33 cars got up to speed today. Seven others circled the track only to practice pit stops. Twelve didn’t go on track at all.
The lack of activity – as well as the speeds so far in three days of practice -- isn’t terribly important, Dixon said.
“If you had a car that you could learn something from today, it adds to what you can maybe use later in the week and maybe for race day,” he said. “But to be honest, today doesn’t mean anything.”
The fastest cars today didn’t come close to the top speeds from Monday and Tuesday. Marco Andretti continues to hold the fastest lap so far – 226.338 mph on opening day.
For Dixon, gains were made without putting the hammer all the way down.
“You don’t need to amp up too much in conditions like this,” he said. “It takes care of itself pretty quickly. … In every condition, you’re going to have to try something. If it’s windy or warm come race day, the stuff we did today should help.”
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