Will Power has claimed the ‘Carb Day’ honours by topping the timesheets in the final practice session before the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.
The Australian moved to P1 just over halfway into the hour-long session, and clocked an average lap speed of 229.020mph (368.572 kph), which no one else was able to better.
“We were pretty set on what we were going to run,” Power said, referring to IndyCar’s decree that the cars had to race with the same set-up used in qualifying after a spate of practice accidents in the week leading up to the session.
“We just made little changes, did pit stop practice, practiced coming into the pits off turn 4 and just getting into the groove for the race.”
Until Power set his lap, it was the two leading Chip Ganassi drivers setting the pace and the team still finished the morning with pole sitter Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan sitting in second and third respectively.
AJ Foyt’s Takuma Sato made a late jump to establish himself as the fastest of the Honda-powered cars at 228.242 mph (367.320 kph), with the former F1 racer slotting in just behind Penske’s Simon Pagenaud.
It was a busy yet uneventful session as the cars were running in big packs practicing drafting, but only a few brief yellows were brought out for track inspections.
Tristan Vautier – who had qualified on behalf of Dale Coyne Racing’s James Davison – stepped up at the last minute to replace the Carlos Huertas in the sister Dale Coyne entry and was 18th fastest. Huertas had himself been ruled out with an inner ear condition and will undergo further medical evaluations before receiving a clearance to drive again on Sunday.
Should Vautier be called upon to substitute for Huertas, both he and Davison will start Sunday’s 200-lap race from the last row of the grid in accordance with the series rules.
Joining them on the back row of the grid will be former full-time IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe, who has been confirmed as the replacement for the injured James Hinchcliffe after the Canadian’s Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry crashed in the post-qualifying practice session, seriously injuring NOLA round winner when a piece of suspension punctured the cockpit and became lodged in his pelvis and thigh.
Hinchcliffe has made a rapid recovery from his life-threatening injuries, and has since been moved out of the Intensive Care just days after emergency surgery at the Indianapolis Methodist Hospital.
Juan Pablo Montoya was forced to miss nearly all of the session due to a turbo boost issue on his Penske entry, but made it just in time to set a 226mph lap in the final few minutes.
Image via IndyCar Series
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