(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 – Dramatically different conditions greeted drivers and teams at Indianapolis Motor Speedway today, with “Fast Friday” practice on tap from noon-6 p.m. ET. And it didn’t take long to see the results.
Ryan Hunter-Reay posted the fastest lap of the week less than 10 minutes into today’s practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil with a lap of 232.132 mph in the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport. It bettered by more than 5 mph the fast lap from Thursday clocked by Jay Howard.
Early morning thunderstorms soaked the 2.5-mile oval’s track surface and swept in cooler temperatures. As opposed to the thermometer reaching the upper 80s Thursday, it sat at a comfortable 73 degrees as today’s six-hour session began. The threat of more rain looms throughout the day.
Lap speeds were expected to jump today as teams run qualifying simulations in anticipation of the two days of time trials ahead. In addition, INDYCAR regulations permit engine turbocharger boost to be increased by 10 kilopascals (kPa) – an atmospheric pressure measurement – that will provide about 30 added horsepower to the Chevrolet and Honda engines. The bump up to 140 kPa remains in effect until the completion of qualifying.
In addition to Hunter-Reay’s sizzling lap, Tony Kanaan logged the best early lap without the aid of a tow from a car in front, at 231.054 mph in the No. 10 NTT Data Honda from Chip Ganassi Racing. Takuma Sato, in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda, was clocked at a "trap speed" of 240 mph in the timing area just before Turn 1.
The caution flag waved at 12:14 p.m. with light rain reported in Turn 1, but the green flag waved again six minutes later. A line of storms is approaching from the west so many teams are trying to get as much running in as possible now.
At 12:27, Sebastien Bourdais upped the ante with a lap of 233.116 mph in the No. 18 Sonny's BBQ Honda for Dale Coyne Racing. The caution waved again at 12:30 when smoke erupted from the rear of the No. 50 Michael Shank Racing with Andretti Autosport Honda driven by rookie Jack Harvey.
The yellow flag waved again at 1:29 p.m. for light moisture and the expectation of strong rain and lightning moving into the area. Bourdais' lap remains the best of the day thus far. The Frenchman also holds the top no-tow lap of 231.192 mph.
Rain has subsided at Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 2 p.m. and blue skies can be seen west of the track. Drying of the course will begin soon with hopes to resume practice later this afternoon.
Practice resumed at 4:05 p.m., following a delay of 2.5 hours for rain and track drying.
PFC engineers receive 2017 Louis Schwitzer Award
Don Burgoon, the late founder of Performance Friction Corp., and engineers James Borner, Darin Cate, Paul Rankin and Mark Wagner were awarded the 51st Louis Schwitzer Award today for their work on developing the PFC carbon disc brake system used on Verizon IndyCar Series cars in 2017. Burgoon, who died in 2015, received the award posthumously along with his fellow engineers during a ceremony at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Schwitzer Award recognizes engineering excellence in racing technology at the Indianapolis 500. PFC’s braking system has made its mark on the series using a system that “consists of a carbon disc and pad assembly made from single continuously wound strands along with a patented mounting mechanism.” With a more balanced assembly, the PFC system helps INDYCAR teams by reducing unwanted vibration and tire wear, giving teams a more consistent braking feel and wear.
“The spirit of innovation drives progress,” said James Verrier, president and CEO of BorgWarner, which sponsors the award. “If you glance in the rearview mirror, you’ll see that past award winners have improved performance, efficiency and safety for generations of race car drivers. The engineers we acknowledge today will take their place in history, inspiring new innovations in the future.”
Pigot crashes in Turn 2
Juncos Racing’s Spencer Pigot made heavy contact with the Turn 2 SAFER barrier at 4:37 p.m., causing significant damage to the No. 11 Chevrolet. Pigot was uninjured and quickly cleared to drive after a visit to the IU Health Emergency Medical Center at the track.
“I’m not really sure (what happened),” said the 2015 Indy Lights champion. “Entered Turn 2, it had not been an issue for us all week. Before I knew it, I was backwards. We’ll have to go back and look and see what happened.”
Pigot qualified 29th last year in his first 500 and finished 25th for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Racing world celebrates the life of McElreath
Former Indianapolis 500 competitor and five-time Indy car race winner Jim McElreath died Thursday in his hometown of Arlington, Texas, at age 89. McElreath, the 1962 Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year, was one of the top Indy car racers in the 1960s and ‘70s.
McElreath finished in the top three in USAC points four times between 1963 and 1970, finishing runner-up to Mario Andretti in 1966. He was also competitive in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” posting six top-six finishes in 15 starts. After a sixth-place finish in his first running at Indianapolis – where he ran up front all day and many believe would have challenged for the win if not for slow pit stops – McElreath finished third in 1966 behind Formula One stars Graham Hill and Jim Clark.
Veach hits Turn 1 SAFER barrier
Indianapolis 500 rookie Zach Veach met the SAFER Barrier at 5:42 p.m. after losing control of the No. 40 Indy Women in Tech Championship Chevrolet at the exit of the 2.5-mile oval’s first corner. The Ohio native made secondary contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2, but walked away from the incident.
Bourdais tops charts as checkered flag falls
The field was allotted seven minutes of green-flag conditions following Veach’s incident, but no driver posted a lap fast enough to top Bourdais. Rebounding from a mechanical issue on Thursday, the four-time Indy car champion clocked the fastest lap of Fast Friday at 233.116 mph. Bourdais also posted the second-fastest lap without a tow, 231.192 mph.
The top five on Fast Friday, with 1,007 total laps turned, were:
1) Sebastien Bourdais (No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ Dale Coyne Racing Honda) – 233.116 mph
2) Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda) – 232.132 mph
3) Takuma Sato (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda) – 231.969 mph
4) Fernando Alonso (No. 29 McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda) – 231.827 mph
5) Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Honda) – 231.682 mph
Hunter-Reay posted the fastest lap of the day without a tow at 231.273 mph, followed by Bourdais, Alexander Rossi (No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda, 231.191 mph), Tony Kanaan (No. 10 NTT Data Honda, 231.054 mph) and Alonso rounding out the top five at 230.966 mph.
Verizon IndyCar Series practice resumes Saturday at 8 a.m. ET, giving teams a chance to finalize their setups for qualifications. Qualifying for the 101st Indianapolis 500 begins at 11 a.m. ET. Coverage can be found on WatchESPN from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. before shifting to ABC from 4-6 p.m.