Indy 500 Live: Conclusion of May 17 practice

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(IndyCar.com is providing daily “Indy 500 Live” reports from practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Follow along here with updates throughout each day.)

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – The rest of the drivers participating in practice today for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil may want to take notice: Fernando Alonso finally got a good night’s sleep and is ready to go.

The two-time Formula One champion making his debut this year in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” pronounced as much at a news conference this morning featuring all six Andretti Autosport drivers. The third day of practice is scheduled from noon-6 p.m. ET and streams live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com. Alonso said his body clock is becoming adjusted since flying across the Atlantic Ocean following Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix to be ready for the opening Indy 500 practice Monday.

“Has been a good experience so far,” Alonso said. “Busy from Barcelona to here, so yeah, actually today is the first night that I slept more or less OK without too much jetlag. Feeling better and better, physically and also with the car as well.”

Alonso completed 117 laps Tuesday – more than any of the other 31 drivers – on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval with a best lap of 221.029 mph. He spent much of the day on track surrounded by his teammates as he became more accustomed to running in traffic.

“Obviously, the more laps I do, the better I feel,” said Alonso, driving the No. 29 McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda. “Yesterday I had my first experience with traffic. Have been good learning days for me. A lot to come because it's still very new for many of the things that are happening out there.

“But, as I said, every lap I feel better in the car, able to feel the setup changes a little bit. But we are six drivers in our team with a lot of experience. You know, we share. I keep learning also from them. Yesterday in traffic, it was very good to organize these runs with the team. They take care of me yesterday. I felt that, so today I will try to keep learning.”

Ambient temperatures are expected in the mid-80s again today, with stronger wind gusts in the forecast.

Gusty winds limit on-track action

“I’m coming in, this is stupid.”

That was the radio transmission from Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal during a brief run on track early this afternoon. Winds gusting at more than 20 mph made driving conditions tricky around the 2.5-mile oval, as several drivers elected to take few or no laps on track in the early going.

As of 2:50 p.m., only 11 drivers had turned laps at speed, led by Ed Carpenter at 221.253 mph in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet.

Juncos adds Temple Fork Outfitters as associate sponsor

Juncos Racing added Temple Fork Outfitters as an associate sponsor on Spencer Pigot’s No. 11 and Sebastian Saavedra’s No. 17 AFS/Juncos Chevrolets today. Temple Fork Outfitters, founded by Rick Pope, offers a line of high-performance fishing rods and a mission statement that aims to connect consumers with the environment to keep bodies of water clean and healthy.

“I am pleased to announce that Temple Fork Outfitters will be a sponsor of Juncos Racing during for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500,” said team owner Ricardo Juncos. “This is our inaugural Indy 500 and to have such a distinguished corporate partner join our team is very special. Temple Fork Outfitters is a nationally recognized company and gives us an opportunity to expose our team, TFO’s partners and the Verizon IndyCar Series to an audience that we would not normally reach.”

Karam, Dreyer & Reinbold look for pace shown in 2014, 2016

For the third time in four years, driver Sage Karam and team owner Dennis Reinbold are working together to bring Dreyer & Reinbold Racing to victory lane at the Indianapolis 500. Karam, who finished ninth with DRR in the 2014 Indy 500, his first Verizon IndyCar Series race, returned to the Indianapolis-based outfit in 2016 and climbed from 23rd starting position to the top five before hitting the Turn 1 SAFER Barrier while battling for position.

Karam and his No. 24 DRR Mecum Auctions Chevrolet figure to contend again in 2017, having posted the fifth-fastest lap on Tuesday. The 22-year-old feels comfortable back behind the wheel of an Indy car after not driving one since last year’s crash.

“It took me like 10-15 laps to go flat through Turn 1 again,” Karam said. “But I knew once I got my feet back under me, I was going to be the same old Sage again.”

Along with his ride at the Indianapolis 500, Karam drives a Lexus GTD entry in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The Nazareth, Pennsylvania, product believes that experience has helped his race craft and will help him learn from last year’s early exit, when he finished 32nd.

“I think this year we’ve learned from that,” said Karam. “We’re going to calm down, we’re going to get to the end of the race, and if I get there, I’m going to be there (at the front).”

Made In Space joins Mann’s car as associate sponsor

Three-dimensional printer Made In Space has joined Dale Coyne Racing as an associate sponsor on Pippa Mann’s No. 63 Honda for the Indianapolis 500.

Made In Space is called the first space manufacturing company, having sent a 3D printer to the International Space Station in 2016. The company plans to print the Susan G. Komen running ribbon logo on its 3D printer aboard the space station during National Breast Cancer Awareness month in October and auction it off to raise funds on behalf of Komen’s national research and community outreach programs.

“I’m so geeked out by this,” said Mann, who is competing for the fifth straight year with Dale Coyne Racing at Indianapolis. “I always love it when our racing program partners also want to find ways to engage and support in our fundraising mission for Susan G. Komen, but to me, the idea to tie these two promotions together in this way hit the cool factor out of the park.”

Dixon posts new fast lap

Shortly past the midway point of today’s six-hour practice, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon posted the fastest lap of the day at 222.599 mph in the No. 9 Honda.

Colts rookies visit IMS, top pick Hooker meets Rahal

Recent Indianapolis Colts draftees and signees paid a visit to Indianapolis Motor Speedway today, providing Graham Rahal a chance to meet a star from his favorite college football team.

The Columbus, Ohio, native and diehard Ohio State University fan welcomed the rookies to his pit stall, where he and Colts first-round pick Malik Hooker met and chatted. Hooker, a 6-1 safety from Ohio State, was thrilled by the experience with Rahal.

“Obviously we talked about Ohio State football, how the past year went,” said Hooker, whose seven interceptions in 2016 tied for second-most in the nation. “I just had a lot of questions about racing, I asked him how long it takes him to get around the track. I estimated two minutes and I was a little off. He said 40 seconds.

“He’s definitely one of the best racers I’ve seen out here. … I’m definitely a big fan of him and what he does out here.”

Hooker said he’d love to come back for race day on May 28, but hesitated when asked if he would take a ride in the two-seat Indy car, as many athletes and celebrities have done.

“Only if Graham is driving,” the rookie said with a laugh.

Carpenter rises to top, holds fast lap through checkered flag

Carpenter regained the honor of fastest lap of the day just as the clock turned past 5 p.m. with a circuit of 222.894 mph, which was run without a tow. That lap held through the remainder of the day and Carpenter became the third driver in as many days to lead on-track action at the famed 2.5-mile oval.

At the conclusion of the day’s practice, the top 5 speeds were:

1)    Ed Carpenter (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet) – 222.894 mph

2)    Scott Dixon (No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) – 222.599 mph

3)    JR Hildebrand (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet) – 220.553 mph

4)    Fernando Alonso (No. 29 McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda) – 219.533 mph

5)    Conor Daly (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) – 219.233 mph

Practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil resumes Thursday at noon ET and continues through 6 p.m. Qualifying for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” takes places Saturday and Sunday.


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