Team Penske, Kyle Larson make Indianapolis 500 statements on Fast Friday

Author:
Sportsnaut

Despite all the distractions, and the suspensions stemming from a major company wide penalty, Team Penske made a statement that the Indianapolis 500 still runs through them on Friday in the final practice session before time trials this weekend.

Josef Newgarden, Scott McLaughlin and Will Power were the three fastest drivers to have made four lap qualifying averages with the reigning race winner leading the way with a 234.063 ahead of his teammates.

Defending IndyCar Series champion Alex Palou earned the pole in 2023 with a 234.217 four lap average.

The dynamic for Fast Friday is different than the previous three days of practice for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing as a turbocharged boost gives each team an additional 100 horsepower through the weekend.  

Newgarden is remaining even tempered despite an opportunity to contend for his first ever pole in the biggest race of the year.

“You can’t get too excited on a day like today,” Newgarden said. “We’re testing, everybody’s testing, it counts when it counts. But I think we have fast cars — there’s no doubt we have to be somewhat pleased at what we’re looking at.

“Let’s not get excited about Fast Friday. We need to put the pieces together tomorrow and I think the car can do that. We just need to go through the motions. It’s going to be harder tomorrow, it’s going to be even harder on Sunday, so I think those are the things we really need to think about and game out what is our plan and how are we going to attack this, because there are no guarantees in IndyCar racing.”

The overall fastest single lap was posted by Colton Herta of Andretti Autosport with a 234.979 mph lap but it came with a slight tow from Graham Rahal.

“I’m happy with what we were able to do,” Herta said. “We seem to be lacking a little bit of speed (for qualifying runs). It’s nice to be quickest, but it doesn’t mean much for qualifying.”

Lightning Larson

IndyCar: 108th Running of Indianapolis 500-Practice
IndyStar-USA TODAY Sports

The fastest overall single lap without the benefit of a tow came from Kyle Larson in the Arrow McLaren No. 17 at 234.271 mph in his debut appearance in an Indy car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Larson also had the 10th fastest 10-lap average.

He didn’t feel like the boost made much of a change in sensation.

“It was less than what I expected,” Larson said. “I expected it to feel like you’re going way faster than before, but surprisingly when the balance is okay but the grip is still there … It definitely feels faster, but it’s not scary fast, thankfully.

“I think our balance was pretty comfortable; I was happy about that. We had one run where we trimmed out some and the sun came out and I was like, ‘OK, maybe I can feel the rear being closer to the limit,’ but overall, happy with the day, happy with the speed. It’s hard to see where you’re at yet because every run there’s some bit of tow, but the balance seems comfortable. I didn’t feel like I have a lot of understeer — or tight, for any stock car racers listening — and I don’t feel super-loose either, so it’s pretty balanced.”

Overall, Larson made four mock qualifying attempts and the team is pleased with his performance despite having so little time on track this week due to the rain and an engine change on Thursday morning.

“Kyle’s doing a great job,” said Hendrick Motorsports technical director Brian Campe, a longtime Penske IndyCar engineer who is spearheading this effort, in a NASCAR.com story. “We’re learning as a team every run.

“We’ll just really work on the details the rest of the day. We’ve got the bulk, we’ve got some speed. We’re kind of right in the game there with our teammates Rossi and O’Ward. So that’s a big confidence booster for Kyle. So now we can focus on the details. It’s just getting laps and going through the process. I think the more Kyle can learn, we’ll be faster. If you can make Kyle Larson better, you’ll always be faster.”

Nolan Siegel crashes

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
Joe Timmerman/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Rookie Nolan Siegel spun his No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda in Turn 2, briefly caught air, and hit the SAFER Barrier before landing on its left sidepod where it slow slide on its roll hoop. Siegel was unhurt.

“I don’t know [what happened], to be honest,” Siegel said afterwards. “I had one snap of oversteer in the middle that I caught, and then turned back in and spun. I’m not exactly sure why. Disappointed. I feel bad for the team that’s been working so hard for so long for this, and I just kind of threw it away. so not happy at all about that one, but we’ll move forward and see if we can get back out and qualify for the race tomorrow.

“We’re probably going to have to go to the spare car and we don’t know exactly what that’s going to be. I’m fine, I feel like I can go back and have a chance at making the race at least. I’m fine, just apologies to everyone.”

Coyne indeed confirmed the need for a backup car.

Bullets

Alex Palou in the No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda required an engine change into the fourth hour of the session

Takuma Sato suffered limited track time due to a ‘critical part’ missing from his car but still was lacking speed throughout the day

Marcus Ericsson, in a backup car after his Thursday practice session crash, never put four laps together and largely spent the day trying to restore the balance from their previous car

Connor Daly in the Dreyer & Reinbold/Cusick No. 24 Chevrolet has been seeking speed and balance all week and that continued into Fast Friday

Top Four Lap Averages

  1. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, Penske, 234.063
  2. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, Penske, 233.623
  3. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, Penske, 233.451
  4. (7) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, Arrow McLaren, 233.355
  5. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, Arrow McLaren, 233.043
  6. (60) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, Meyer Shank, 232.906
  7. (27) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, Andretti Global, 232.893
  8. (78) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, Juncos Hollinger Racing, 232.875
  9. (14) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, AJ Foyt Racing, 232.867
  10. (17) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Arrow McLaren, 232.549
  11. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, Andretti Global, 232.548
  12. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing, 232.517
  13. (41) Sting Ray Robb, Chevrolet, AJ Foyt Racing, 232.207
  14. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, Meyer Shank, 232.200
  15. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, Andretti Global, 232.083
  16. (45) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, 232.025
  17. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, Chip Ganassi Racing, 231.972
  18. (23) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Chevrolet, Dreyer & Reinbold/Cusick, 231.658
  19. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, Chip Ganassi Racing, 231.546
  20. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing, 231.546
  21. (6) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, Arrow McLaren, 231.430
  22. (30) Pietro Fittipaldi, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, 231.319
  23. (28) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, Andretti Global, 231.298
  24. (11) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, Chip Ganassi Racing, 231.219
  25. (8) Linus Lundqvist, Honda, Chip Ganassi Racing, 231.107
  26. (33) Christian Rasmussen, Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing, 231.070
  27. (66) Tom Blomqvist, Honda, Meyer Shank, 230.945
  28. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, 230.867
  29. (75) Takuma Sato, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, 230.833
  30. (77) Romain Grosjean, Chevrolet, Juncos Hollinger Racing, 230.740
  31. (24) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, Dreyer & Reinbold/Cusick, 230.490
  32. (4) Kyffin Simpson, Honda, Chip Ganassi Racing, 230.340
  33. (51) Katherine Legge, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing, 229.984
  34. (18) Nolan Siegel, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing, 199.413

The first day of Indianapolis 500 Qualifying takes place from 11 a.m.-5:50 p.m. A practice session will precede qualifying from 8:30-9:30 a.m., with two 30-minute groups. Positions 13-30 in the starting field will be set Saturday, with the Last Row Shootout, Top 12 and Fast Six qualifying sessions Sunday afternoon deciding the rest of the 33-car starting grid.

For Saturday, a higher qualifying draw is preferable as the track will be cooler and ripe for more grip and a faster lap time.

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *