Full Carb Day practice times
The final shakedown hour of practice on Friday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway suggested that there was hope for a race day rebound by the Chip Ganassi Racing squad, which has hitherto struggled in practice and qualifying for the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500.
Last year's race winner Tony Kanaan put the #10 car at the top of the timesheets with a best lap of 227.838mph (39.5018s) after completing 46 laps of the 2.5-mile speedway on Friday, the final opportunity the drivers will have to run on the track before they head out for the green flag of the race on Sunday at noon local time (5pm BST).
Kanaan's time was 0.0113s ahead of his team mate and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, while KV Racing Technology's Townsend Bell and Penske's Helio Castroneves made it an all-Chevrolet top four on Carb Day, the traditional name for the day allotted for teams to carry out their final tweaks and changes to their race cars.
“Last year I was already happy with the car I got, but I think we've got a better car,” insisted Kanaan, who will start from 16th place on the grid on Sunday said. "But the field is definitely more competitive this year."
Kanaan won the 2013 race from 12th place on the grid, showing that a lot can happen in 500 miles and over three hours of high speed racing, but his team mate Scott Dixon pointed out that it was important to get good track position as soon as possible.
“It's about track position, for sure," said the Kiwi. "You can't just lay back. You need to work hard to make sure you maintain in order to be in the top six or eight. But then it gets down to strategy and figuring out what you need to do fuel-wise, who your strongest competitors are and what your car needs – whether you need to trim out or whether you need more downforce. If you leave that stuff too late, you're going to get waxed at the end."
The highest Honda runner was Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' Russian rookie Mikhail Aleshin, who continued a fine run at IMS this month with a best lap of 226.045mph (39.8150s) for the day, while this year's pole winner Ed Carpenter took a relatively laid back approach to the day's session with a lap of 224.898mph (40.0182s, the 13th fastest time
"If anything I'm a little more relaxed this year than last year last," said Carpenter, who also started from pole in 2013. "Having gone through this last year and having been in this position and the pressure that comes with that, because there is some. That's probably the biggest thing – being more prepared to manage the whole week leading up to it.
"For the race, I feel like we are more prepared than last year," he added. "Some that is going through this whole thing and having a car that is capable of winning. You learn things through that process. So yeah, I feel prepared but it's a 500-mile race and a lot of things happen."
There was a single caution during the session, just after the midway point, when Dreyer and Reinbold–Kingdom Racing's Sage Karam made light contact with the wall in the #22 co-entry with Ganassi Racing. Fortunately he was able to keep the car under control and prevented it rebounding into greater harm, so the car suffered only minimal damage to the right rear suspension.
Kurt Busch was back in action in the #26 Andretti Autosport entry, just four days after suffering a hard hit in the last full day of practice on Monday. The race car wasn't repairable, so Busch has now been given a chassis that was previously Marco Andretti's back-up.
"I was a bit anxious this morning to see how I would feel back in the car," said Busch. "I didn't lose my confidence. When I got up to speed, the team threw me another adjustment to see how I reacted.
"Last Thursday was when I felt the most comfortable," he admitted. "I had my team mate, Ryan Hunter-Reay, helping me. Today I was very busy, but I was able to keep on top of it, I made good steps today."
The team worked through the week to have it ready for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, who is attempting to 'do the double' by completing both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 evening race later in the day at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It's the first time in a decade that anyone has made the attempt.
Later in the day, there was further success for Ganassi when Scott Dixon and his pit crew won the Tag Heuer Pit Stop Challenge, which saw teams compete head-to-head to see which of them was fastest at a four-stop tyre change and simulated fuel hook-up.
"It's actually one of my most stressful days apart from Race Day because you don't want to mess it up," said Dixon. "I've been very lucky and blessed to have such a great team for many years and to win the pit stop competition two times within three years is pretty tough to do. Without them, I wouldn't have had the success I have had. They are one of the best teams on pit road. It's definitely going to help me a lot come Race Day this weekend."
Dixon and the #9 Target Chip Ganassi crew took first place and earned a $50,000 payday after defeating Indianapolis 500 rookie Sage Karam and his Dryer & Reinbold-Kingdom Racing crew by over half a second in the final round of the competition. Dixon's crew recorded a time of 11.658 seconds, while Karam's registered a time of 12.163 seconds.
Reporting from trackside by Lynne Huntting of PressSnoop.com
Full Carb Day practice times