Fast Friday Report: Sato fastest on 4-lap average pace and Fast Lap, a disaster for RLL and Ilott

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It’s Fast Friday today in Indianapolis, with a slightly less sunny morning. During this 6 hour session the drivers’ engines will be turned up, receiving an additional 90 horsepower boost of power ahead of Qualifying, for the first time teams will be able to see their challengers on track with the added power boost.

First driver out is Stefan Wilson, with a first fast lap of 230.237mph. Ten minutes in the session Romain Grosjean goes on track as the first Andretti driver, joined shortly after by his teammate Kyle Kirkwood with a 240.723 mph speed at the Turn 3 speed trap. He is in the lead in the provisional fast lap speed standings with a 232.649, followed by Ed Carpenter’s first attempt, Wilson and Rahal, who had to back off mid attempt.

Grosjean’s best speed is 232.460 mph, with the French driver going rather close to the wall at the end of his attempt under the close control of Andretti, who is on track for the session.

Marco Andretti said on the radio “This is so tough man!” moments before his car wiggled out almost going in the wall, with the Andretti driver managing to steer the car off it in the end.

Another driver who seems to need a bit more time at Turn 3 is Alexander Rossi. His first attempt put him in P2, with a 232.598, however, while he was on a very strong lap he had to back out of it on that very specific tricky part of the track. The difficulty of the spot is enhanced by the strong wind blowing on the track.

Last year’s Indy 500 Pato O’Ward came on track at the half hour and scored the lead on his first run with a 232.710, with a very impressive trap speed of 243.142mph at Turn 3 without a tow.

Another very impressive and consistent track debut was made by Conor Daly, with his two first laps being so strong to put him in the lead, respectively 232.705mph and 232.562.

Yesterday’s fastest man both with and without a tow Marcus Ericsson began his Fast Friday almost an hour in the session, going in provisional P3 with his first attempt of 233.210mph.

After the first hour, the best four lap average speed was held by Conor Daly in 232.012, followed by Kirkwood, his team Ed Carpenter in 2321.601mph, McLaughlin and Pedersen, just 0.015mph off the Team Penske driver’s pace.

The fast lap speed sees instead a one-three for Chip Ganassi Racing, as Takuma Sato leads with a 234.753 and Ericsson has achieved a 233.210mph. Sandwiched between them is Ed Carpenter’s Rinus Veekay, the only other driver in the 234mph region.

Two Arrow McLarens complete the top five, Rosenqvist and Rossi, with O’Ward in P7 separated by Daly’s very impressive stint. Kirkwood, Carpenter and Dixon round off the top ten.

Will Power was definitely the star of the first half of the second hour of the day. The reigning Indycar champion moved up to P3 in the fast lap speed with a 233.212mph and shoots up to the lead in the four laps average, in 232.474.

Best performing rookie of the day so far is A. J. Foyt’s Benjamin Pedersen, in fifth place with a 233.197mph and a 239.655mph speed at the Turn 1 trap, a data even made more impressive by the fact that runner up Sato’s speed was 237.636mph.

Just before the first cation for track inspections, almost at the beginning of the third hour of running if the day McLaughlin went third fastest in 233.608, but at the restart Kyle Kirwood got his position with a 233.608mph

The Andretti driver also went in the lead of the four lap average speed with a 232.616, improving Power’s previous top form with two very fast first laps in the 233mphs.

The top ten for fastest lap speed at the two hours mark, during the caution, features in the lead Takuma Sato, whose lap recorded earlier was the fastest of the whole month, followed by Veekay and McLAughlin on the podium, biggest winners of the 2022 season Power and Ericsson in the top five, Pedersen and a trio of McLAren Drivers intervalled by Daly rounding off the top ten.

Photo credits: Chip Ganassi Racing

Two and an half hours in, Veekey goes in the lead of the four-lap average speed with a very strong 232.898mph as more clouds cover the sky on the track.

Andretti driver Colton Herta had a strong qualifying simulation that put him in the top three for best average speed over four laps with a 232.521mph.

The complete top ten at the mid session point has Veekay in the lead, followed by the Andretti teammates Kirkwood and Herta on the podium, Team Penske duo Power and McLaughlin for the top five, Daly, Andretti, Hunter Reay, and Pedersen to round off the top ten.

Juncos Racing’s difficulties appear to be striking again, as Callum Ilott is last in the fastest lap speed standings and rookie Agustino Canapino in running in P26.

During the third hour of the session, in spite of the worsening weather condition, Alexander Rossi had his best four laps average speed at 232.535, to move up to P3, in between the Andretti drivers. His teammate Rosenqvist was another great improver, with a 232.320 mph for P6.

Leader of the fast lap speed Takuma Sato’s latest quali simulation pace of 232.535 put him up to P4 in the other chart with two and a half hours to go. O’Ward tried to improve his form as well, with two very strong first laps in the 233mph, but had to completely lift the throttle during the last one, only making up to P9.

Yesterday’s best performer Marcus Ericsson isn’t having as much fun today with the additional power, as his latest average four laps speed left him out of the top ten, in P13.

To try and solve Ilott’s Indianapolis issues a new chassis is being mounted on the car no 77, which will thus miss the rest pf the action this afternoon, but might make it for tomorrow morning’s practice session.

In the final minutes of the third hour, Grosjean and Palou debut in the best four lap average speed standings. The Spanish driver has a 0.066mph gap to the French driver, but sits three positons ahead of him in P7.

With two hours to go, Dixon replaced his teammate Alex Palou in P7 just before the scheduled caution for track checks.

On the restart, the top speed top ten has a slightly different face, as Sato and Veekay are joined on the podium by the driver of the number 5 car Pato O’Ward, followed by Ferrucci and Kirkwood for the top five. Two Chip Ganassi drivers, two Team Penske cars and yet another Andretti sum it up, with a precise running order of McLaughlin, Palou, Herta, Dixon and Power.

Veekay, who has never qualified lower than P3 in the Indy500, leads the average speed rankings, followed by Kirkwood and Rossi, Sato Herta Power Dixon Palou Rosenqvist and McLaughlin.

An attempt with one hour and twenty minuest to go moved O’Ward up to P11, just before a caution for debris on track was issued.

At the beginning of the last hour of Fast Friay, Canapino put his Juncos Racing car in P13 of the four lap average speed standings, a very impressive round for the Argentinian rookie on such a difficult day for the team.

Josef Newgarden’s first four lap attempt of the day comes ten minutes into the final hour session, signing the first 233mph average speed of the day, with the Arrow McLaren of Felix Rosenqvist improving as well up to P3 with a 232.777mph in the cooler conditions, more similar to those of qualifying tomorrow according to Michael Andretti.

In the last twenty minutes of the session, Will Power joins his teammate Josef Newgarden in the 233mph club, just as reigning winner Marcus Ericsson signs a first lap in his run with a 234.029. The Swede goes on top again with an average of 233.113mph.

His Chip Ganassi part-time teammate Takuma Sato stole the lead from him with an average of 233.413mph, with Herta moving up to P6.

Jack Harvery had a mid-corner engine issue with ten minutes to go, bringing out a caution for five minutes.

Sato led Ericsson, Newgarden, Power, VeeKay, Herta, Rosenqvist, Kirkwood, Rossi and Dixon on four-lap average pace.

RLL had an absolute nightmare on pace with Legge, Lundgaard, Rahal and Harvey down in P28, P30, P31 and P32 respectively.

The top ten on the Fast Lap chart can be viewed below.