By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
INDIANAPOLIS — Graham Rahal led Thursday’s practice ahead of the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 in the second-busiest day of track activity so far.
Rahal’s No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda turned 102 laps but the fastest was the second lap at 226.047 mph. That lap was assisted with a tow but Rahal unfortunately could not get a proper solo run in and was 34th on the unassisted speed chart.
“Every qualifying sim I did today everybody came out in front of me, said Rahal. “I didn’t get a qualifying sim today. Not a single one. Hopefully Mother Nature will be nice to us tomorrow.”
A. J. Foyt Racing’s Tony Kanaan was second on the overall speed chart. The 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner has been fast all during the week, even during the rescheduled testing at the start of them month.
“It’s been a good week for us,” said Kanaan. “We unloaded pretty quick since the test, now it’s just the track playing some mind games with you. Some days are better, some days are worse. It’s more of trying to figure out what you’re going to need in 10 days from you. It’s quite hard. You don’t know what the weather is going to do.”
JR Hildebrand was the first victim of wall contact this month. The 2011 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year brushed the wall coming out of Turn 3 late in the day and slid along the Turn 4 wall, coming to a stop at the inside of the exit of Turn 4.
“We had something happen in turn three with the car,” said Hildebrand. “We are still analyzing what might have happened. The car felt out of the ordinary. I didn’t feel like I was losing the car at all, I thought for sure I could save the car which why I’m a little confused on what happened. I did have enough warning to keep it under control.”
Hildebrand was checked and released from the infield care center and cleared to drive.
Drivers turned 2,771 laps on Thursday and have turned 8,028 laps for the month for a total of 20,070 miles. Three drivers turned more than 100 laps; Rahal, Zach Veach and three time Indianapolis winner Helio Castroneves were those three with Castroneves turning the most laps with 110.
Fast Friday practice begins at 11:00 a.m. ET, weather permitting.