Photo: Riley W. Thompson/ASP, Inc.

Takuma Sato Paces Carb Day Practice at Indianapolis

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

INDIANAPOLIS – No attack, no chance.

Takuma Sato, the 2020 winner of the Indianapolis 500, paced Friday’s Carb Day practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, flexing his muscles in the final track time before the 107th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing on Sunday.

Driving a Chip Ganassi Racing Honda this season on just the ovals, the two-time Indy 500 champion paced the session at 227.855 mph ahead of his teammate, six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion and 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon.

Will Power timed in third in his Team Penske Chevrolet, with pole sitter Alex Palou finishing the two-hour practice in fourth. Kyle Kirkwood rounded out the top-five in his Andretti Autosport Honda.

The remainder of the top-10 went to Juncos Hollinger Racing rookie Agustín Canapino, Colton Herta and Romain Grosjean out of the Andretti camp, and the “Bus Bros” – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin.

Through the two-hour session, the yellow flag was displayed a handful of times, with two of those being on-track incidents.

The first came when Katherine Legge, who was involved in an incident in practice on Monday had a wheel nut come off her Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, forcing her to stop on the backstretch and wait for assistance.

The second was a near-miss by Devlin DeFrancesco in which sparks were seen emanating from the underside of his car shortly after coming off pit road with an apparent problem with the right-front wheel on his Andretti Honda. DeFrancesco kept the car off the wall as other drivers behind had to take evasive action and he was able to limp back to pit road.

Santino Ferrucci and 2016 Indy 500 champion Alexander Rossi also found themselves in precarious positions during practice thanks to their aggressive driving.

Ferrucci made the first volley by passing Rossi through the grass on the pit access road to be the first driver back on track, with Rossi responding shortly thereafter with a dive on Ferrucci to take the position back.

Afterwards, Tony Kanaan and Josef Newgarden noted that the intensity of the practice session was ratcheted up as the clock wound down, which caused some drivers to call it an early day to avoid the chaos.

“It’s been crazy,” Kanaan said. “We saw what happened the other day. But when I saw three wide into Turn 1, 20 minutes to go, why do you want to do that? So I’m like, I’m out. I don’t need this.

“Some of us are starting fairly in the front, so I said, all right, I’m not planning to have 20 cars in front of me; hopefully that’s not going to happen, so I’m not going to run out there in the back, and that’s exactly what happened. Somebody is trying to go to the back, and some of these guys are — I don’t know. It’s not a big deal, but I’m like, I don’t want any part of it.”

“You always get that on an aggressive end to a session when it’s like a Happy Hour or specifically today,” Newgarden added. “Everyone was really racing today, and like Tony said, there was probably some moments where it was unnecessary.

“But I think the intensity was up. Everyone was kind of race running today, trying to really practice what it was going to be like, which is good, but there’s probably a couple moments you just don’t want to insert yourself into.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.