INDIANAPOLIS – Tony Kanaan found the right blend of ingredients for speed Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, leading the third day of practice for the 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
2013 Indy 500 winner and 2004 INDYCAR SERIES champion Kanaan, who is aiming to make his 20th start in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” led the pack of 35 cars with a best lap of 225.341 mph in the No. 48 The American Legion Honda. Track and air temperatures continued to climb after a cool start to practice Tuesday and moderate temperatures Wednesday.
“It feels good,” Kanaan said. “Today has been the hottest day so far this week, so we’ve been to do a couple of things to kind of do the cookbook. You’re just trying to check the weather, what are we running in this type of weather, trying to guess when you’re going to qualify and then try to guess what’s going to happen next Sunday when we take the green flag. We’re just working on racing setup.”
Practice resumes from noon-6 p.m. (ET) tomorrow, known as “Fast Friday.” It’s the first day with elevated boost levels in the engine turbochargers, which continues through Saturday and Sunday for Crown Royal Armed Forces Qualifying. The additional boost will add between 80 and 90 horsepower and increase speeds.
Conor Daly continued a strong week on the 2.5-mile oval by ending up second at 225.245 in the No. 47 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet. Santino Ferrucci was third at 224.922 in the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda in an abbreviated day.
Ferrucci was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for further evaluation of his left foot after being involved in the first major incident of practice this week. At 4:14 p.m., Ferrucci’s No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda did a quarter-spin to the left in Turn 2 and made hard rear contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 before stopping on the back straightaway. The rear of the car suffered heavy damage.
Two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Josef Newgarden was fourth at 224.885 in the No. 2 Shell Fuel Rewards Team Penske Chevrolet. Scott Dixon, fastest in practice Wednesday, ended up fifth today at 224.666 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda.
Teams will shift to focusing on qualifying setups Friday in preparation for the drama and speed of Saturday and Sunday. Jack Harvey was the fastest driver without the benefit of an aerodynamic tow today – similar conditions to single-car qualifying – at 222.091 in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda.
Today’s practice opened with drama from the first lap.
Colton Herta, driving the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda, brushed the Turn 4 wall and the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet driven by Scott McLaughlin after McLaughlin and the No. 16 Rocket Pro TPO/Paretta Autosport Chevrolet driven by Simona De Silvestro slowed due to three Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing cars running slowly in formation on the front straightaway on the first lap of the session. Per INDYCAR Rulebook Rule 9.3.1, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing was penalized for improper conduct, and its three cars – driven by reigning “500” winner Takuma Sato, Graham Rahal and Ferrucci – will not be allowed to participate in the first 30 minutes of practice Friday.
Herta and McLaughlin returned to the track later after Andretti Autosport and Team Penske checked their respective cars in Gasoline Alley.