There’s a pattern forming after two full days of practice for the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge: Takuma Sato and Scott Dixon are really fast.
Sato and Dixon were 1-2 on the speed chart Thursday for the second consecutive practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Two-time Indy 500 winner Sato led at 227.519 mph in the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda, with six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion and 2008 “500” winner Dixon second at 227.335 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
“We’re working on it,” Sato said. “The car’s not entirely happy in a big pack. Still there’s work to be done. The boys are doing such a meticulous job, with great engineering. I’m happy with the progress, step by step, and here we are. Hopefully we have more to come.”
SEE: Practice Results
Rookie David Malukas, Sato’s teammate at Dale Coyne Racing, was third at 226.869 in the No. 18 HMD Honda. 2011 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year JR Hildebrand clocked in fourth at 226.846 in the No. 11 Homes For Our Troops/AJ FOYT RACING Chevrolet.
Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson continued his impressive preparation for his first start in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” by ending up fifth at 226.409 in the No. 48 Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Johnson was third fastest overall on opening day Tuesday. Practice was rained out Wednesday.
Weather may be top of mind for teams and drivers during practice from noon-6 p.m. Friday (live on Peacock Premium), as air temperatures in the mid- to high-80s and sustained winds of 15 to 25 mph will create tricky conditions on the 2.5-mile oval. Speeds also will climb on “Fast Friday” – the last full day of practice before PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying on Saturday and Sunday — because turbocharger boost levels are increased, adding an estimated 90 horsepower to the Chevrolet and Honda engines.
Teams will work on qualifying simulations Friday, trying to stay out of the aerodynamic tow that has produced the big speeds for the first two days of practice.
2018 Indy 500 winner Will Power was the fastest driver Thursday without a tow, reaching 224.325 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Rinus VeeKay and his team boss, Ed Carpenter, continued to show strength while running solo, ending up second and third on the no-tow list after they were 1-2 without aerodynamic help Tuesday. VeeKay produced a solo lap of 224.047 in the No. 21 Bitcoin Racing Team with BitNile Chevrolet, followed by Carpenter at 223.858 in the No. 33 Alzamend Neuro Chevrolet.
Thirty-three drivers combined to turn 3,114 incident-free laps under overcast skies. Johnson turned 153 laps, more than any other driver.