FORT WORTH, Texas – The final practice on race eve at Texas Motor Speedway has become known for nonstop action. This evening’s 30-minute session was no exception.
Ed Carpenter was fastest with a lap of 224.682 mph in the practice that featured large groups of cars running together to get a better sense of what race conditions will be like for Saturday’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600 following the full track repaving and reconfiguration of Turns 1 and 2 on the 1.5-mile oval.
A total of 957 laps were turned at speed by the 22 cars entered, with Carpenter atop the speed chart in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet but admitting to big help on the fast lap from the tow of multiple cars in front of him.
“I was pretty much in the back of the line and put up a big number,” said Carpenter, who qualified 14th earlier today. “It doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot of anything, but at the same time I’m pretty happy with my car. It felt pretty good relative to what I was seeing from other cars.
“It gave me confidence that we can make a good run (in the race).”
Scott Dixon, the 2017 championship leader and two-time race winner at Texas, was second fastest at 223.008 mph in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver starts on the outside of Row 1 next to teammate and pole sitter Charlie Kimball, who was 13th in final practice in the No. 83 Tresiba Honda.
Alexander Rossi (No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda) was third at 222.678 mph, just ahead of Carpenter’s teammate, JR Hildebrand, in the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy (222.303 mph).
Carpenter said everyone is still trying to figure how best to negotiate Turns 1 and 2, whose banking has been decreased from 24 degrees to 20 degrees and widened from 60 feet to 80 feet.
“It’s still a tricky place,” Carpenter said. “It’s a lot harder to pass because the top lane hasn’t come in in (Turns 1-2), but maybe we’ll work it over the course of the race. If not, I still think you’ll be able to get around people because Turn 2 from mid to exit is a lot harder with the new configuration.
“Still think it will be a good race, but I do think it will be different than the ones we’ve had the last couple of years.”
Other than a 10-minute pit-stop practice session, there is no on-track action until the 248-lap race. Live coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.