Photo: Walter G. Arce/ASP, Inc.

McLaughlin Leads Rainy Second Day of Indy 500 Practice

By Kirby Arnold, Special Contributor

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Team Penske floated to the top of the speed chart Wednesday when Indianapolis 500 practice resumed on another soggy day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Rain again was the major story in a session that started about five hours late and ended a few minutes early because of wet conditions. 

Scott McLaughlin drove his Team Penske Chevrolet to the fastest lap of the day, 229.493 mph on the 2.5-mile oval, teammate Will Power was second (228.767) and defending champion Josef Newgarden fourth (227.675). Colton Herta was third fastest at 227.858 in his Andretti Global Honda. 

The scheduled eight hours of practice were limited to only to 2 hours, 51 seconds of green-flag time because of rain. After Tuesday’s opening practice lasted only a few minutes because of rain, teams were happy to get as much as they did on Wednesday, working primarily on race setups. 

 McLaughlin drove 78 laps and was happy with how stable his car was in traffic. 

“Our race stuff was pretty good, especially right out of the truck,” McLaughlin said. “We made some really good runs. Deep in the pack I was able to pass a few cars, and that’s a good sign.” 

Takuma Sato, driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, set the fastest no-tow speed (without help of an aerodynamic pull from other cars) at 221.219 mph.

The Rahal team focused on qualifying setups in an effort to avoid the malady that struck a year ago, when all three cars struggled and Graham Rahal was bumped from the field. Rahal drove in the 500 after replacing Stefan Wilson, who was injured in a practice crash the day after qualifying. 

 “The team had a challenging year last year, so we really wanted to work on that,” Sato said. “It was a really productive day.” 

The weather forecast Thursday is more promising, with a mix of sun and clouds, but many teams plan to work on qualifying setups. Typically they wait until Friday for qualifying simulations, but rain is predicted to return. It’s not an ideal situation because cars won’t have the added turbo boost they will get on Friday and for weekend qualifying. 

There’s also the challenge of finding enough open track to avoid the aero effect of other cars. 

“It wasn’t impossible, but it was very difficult to get by yourself,” Sato said. “I think we learned a lot. It was good to see the car putting up a better speed. 

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