Indy 500 Thursday Practice: Ericsson leads fast lap and no-tow standings

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After the cancellation of the first sessions on Tuesday, Day 2 of testing awaited the 34 cars grid set to take part in the 107th running of the Indy500. It’s a sunny day, with a 66°F temperature and a 96°F track temperature.

Among the first attempts, Katherine Legge went fastest with a 223.807 speed, ahead of Defrancesco and Canapino. The Andretti driver was also the first driver with a towed speed of 224.003 mph in the morning session, where most of the drivers will debut and test their qualifying setups ahead of Fast Friday.

McLaren’s first early attempts puts Rossi in P9, Rosenqvist in P10 and O’Ward in provisional P3, for what seems in these early rounds a consistent improvement to yesterday’s best result of P18.

224.907 mph was the speed Herta had to put him in the lead ten minutes in the session, later bested by Palou and Rossi, both in the 227.71s and apart for only 0.005 mph.

Another great improver since yesterday appears to be Callum Ilott, who has signed a 224.727mph.

Last year’s Indy500 winner Marcus Ericsson has moved up to P3 twenty minutes in the session with his best early attempt of 226.930 mph, whereas yesterday’s practise leader Scott Dixon’s first attempt of the day puts him in P5, with a 226.270 just behind Tony Kanaan.

At the half time mark, an impressive tow lap with a 225.713 mph from rookie Sting Ray Robb puts him in P6, while the only change in the top three is Takuma Sato moving up to the last podium position as the third driver to sign a lap in the 227 mph realm, more precisely in 227.126.

Rossi went slightly on the grass while going to the pit lane as Ericsson braked ahead of him.

Reigning IndyCar champion Will Power is provisionally last, as the Penske driver only exited the pits for a low speed installation lap. He mentioned later on in an interview that he had a telemetry issue his team was working on that could only be solved by replacing the data box.

Forty-five minutes into the session, Pato O’Ward is now leading the session with a 227.734 mph, but is almost immediately replaced by Ericsson with a 229.607 mph for the fastest speed of the month so far, faster even than the one on top of last year’s Thursday practise signed by Takuma Sato.

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment | Joe Skibinski

The top 10 new entries are Santino Ferrucci in P6 with a 226.995mph and Texas pole sitter Felix Rosenqvist in P8, with a 0.5215 gap to Ericsson. Turn 1 trap speed sees latest race winner Alex Palou fastest in 234.570, then Dixon in P2 with a 233,900 and Ferrucci in 233.633 mph.

At the first hour mark the reigning top three is the same, followed by Rossi and Sato in the 227 mph Ferrucci, Kanaan, Rosenqvist and Dixon in the 226mph and Robb rounding up the top ten with a 225.713 mph.

An hour and a half in the session, the best no tow lap speed was signed by McLaughlin in 224.253, followed by Veekay in 223.947 mph and Newgarden in 223.899.

The top ten includes almost all the other drivers in the range of the 223 mph, featuring Herta, Kirkwood, Carpenter, Andretti, Power and Castroneves. To round off the top ten there is yet another Andretti driver, Grosjean with a 222.754.

At the one and an half hour mark, the most notable change is offered by Conor Daly entering the top 10 towed times with a 226.029.

The second hour of the session went ahead with no problems or variations, with the top 10 remaining the same as before. However, the not towed leadership has changed as Will Power is now in P1 with a 224.283 mph, while sitting in P23 of the towed classification.

At the beginning of the third hour, a yellow flag was issued for track inspections with many drivers taking advantage of the opportunity to stop and debrief with their teams. Racing was resumed 20 minutes after.

With his first restart the best towed speed placed Andretti driver Colton Herta improved from P16 to P14 signing a 225.438.

In the final minutes of the third hour, Herta finally made his way up to the top 10, thus reshuffling in P9 and under former Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon and Rosenqvist. The top 6 stays the same, and Robb is still the best placed rookie so far in P13.

With two and an half hours to go Scott Dixon makes his way up to the top three, in between of Ericsson and O’Ward with a 227.987.

The updated no tow speed standings sees in the lead Will Power with a 224.283, followed by McLaughlin in 224.253, Veekay, Newgarden and Herta. Another caution for track inspecting was issued shortly after.

Some more improvements were seen approaching the end of the fourth hour of the session: Conor Daly was the biggest mover up to P3 with a 228. 228.215, while Dixon reiterated his P2 by becoming the second driver of the day to run in the 229 mph. Takuma Sato joined the top four with a 227.818, slotting ahead of O’Ward.

So far the driver who has completed the most laps is Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist, running just outside of the top ten and having completed over 100 laps, followed by his teammate Alexander Rossi with 81, Marcus Ericsson with 80 and Palou and Dixon tied at 77.

With one hour and forty minutes to go there’s a lot of movement just outside of the top 10, as Long Beach race winner Kyle Kirkwood slits in P11 just before Rosenqvist with a 226.692. Other big improvers are Power, now in P13 after focusing earlier on no tow laps and missing out of the first hour of track action, whereas first timer Agustino Canapino is running in P15, just behind fellow rookie driver Robb.

Another caution to check the track was issued with less than an hour and a half to go, with action resuming with only one hour to go.

There was a close, almost contact moment between Pato O’Ward, who was exiting the pit lane at reduced speed, and R.C. Enerson, who tightly squeezed ahead of him as he came off the track at turn 1.

During Happy Hour, birthday boy Simon Pagenaud reached P3 in the top speed standings with a 228.681 mph, with Will Power slotting in P4 by 0.100mph, followed by Colton Herta returning in the top five. Highest placed rookie is Canapino in P14.

At the final half hour mark, Rossi has completed the most laps with 155, followed by previous leader in Rosenqvist with 151 and Malukas with 129.

Among the best performing teams of the day there definitely was Chip Ganassi Racing, with four drivers in the top ten, two of which holding P1 and P2 with Ericsson and Dixon. McLaren featured two drivers in the top ten, with Kanaan and Rosenqvist near by for a bit more paced run compared to yesterday, whereas for Andretti Herta was in the top 5 and Kirkwood in the top 15, with their other drivers out of the top 20.

The no-tow speed classification was also led by the defending race winner Marcus Ericsson. Power, Ferrucci, McLaughlin, Dixon VeeKay, Newgarden, Herta, Kirkwood and Carpenter completed the top 10.