Andretti Autosport returned to the fray on Fast Friday after putting their feet up on Thursday, and soon dominated proceedings as they once again showed just how good they were working in traffic and getting a tow from other cars on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
On the final day of practice for the 96th running of the Indy 500 ahead of Saturday's qualifying session, Marco Andretti went to the top of the timesheets for the second time this week with a mighty lap of 227.540mph (39.5535s), partly thanks to the extra 40-50 horsepower turboboost allowed by the IZOD IndyCar Series organisers today and for the qualifying weekend.
"Today was a big day for us," said Marco. "We kind of woke the car up and obviously with this added boost today it woke my car up, in particular, as well.
"It would be cool to be able to be on the pole tomorrow, for sure. Hopefully, tomorrow if we're knocking on the door for a pole, that'd be pretty ironic because last year we were just trying to get into the show."
Asked what had made the difference in the intervening 12 months, Andretti pointed to the team work in the garage. "It's just credit to the guys. We've just been working so hard, and I think that Al McDonald, my engineer, and I have been working really well together. He has a lot of faith in me and vice-versa, so that's all you need is that kind of chemistry."
Last year's pole position time for the centennial Indy 500 was set by Alex Tagliani with a speed of 227.472mph in a Sam Schmidt Motorsport car engineered by McDonald.
Andretti's time on Friday was 0.1229s ahead of second-placed man Ryan Briscoe (226.835mph, 39.6764s), who was just faster than his Penske team mate Helio Castroneves in third (226.716mph, 39.6973s).
"I think everyone up there had a tow - I had a lot of help on the last lap from Bourdais," admitted Briscoe. "I think we're up there, definitely top nine, for sure. It's hard to know where everybody stacks up because it's hard to get a clean lap, but we're up there. We're competitive, and we're certainly going to work hard tonight."
"I felt we made a lot if improvements," agreed Castroneves. "Today certainly helped prepare us for tomorrow, and I'm really looking forward to qualifying."