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Indy 500: Power and Dixon on top as Vautier steps in

The two favourites for this weekend's Indy 500 - Penske's Will Power and Ganassi's Scott Dixon - were also the fastest drivers on Carb Day.
The final hour-long practice session before Sunday's Indianapolis 500 has concluded without incident, and with the top two favourites for this year's race win appropriately at the top of the timesheets on Carb Day.

Penske's Will Power was fastest of anyone on Friday, recording a top lap of 39.2978s (229.020mph) to put himself 0.0749s ahead of Scott Dixon, his arch rival from the Ganassi camp. Power is looking fo his first win in the famed event, while Dixon is seeking to recapture the glory he achieved in 2008.

CLICK: Full times from practice 11 for the Indianapolis 500.

The pair will line-up alongside each other at the front of the grid for the 99th running of the Indy 500, although it'll be Dixon at the front heading to the green flag. The last time that Dixon started the race from pole was the same year that he went on to win.

Dixon's team mate Tony Kanaan, who won his first Indy 500 title in 2013, was third fastest in Friday's session just 0.0164s further back. He was followed in fourth place by Penske's Simon Pagenaud, who will be joining Dixon and Power on the front row in a little under 48 hours' time.

Takuma Sato was the fastest of the Honda cars, setting the fifth fastest lap with a time of 39.4318s (228.242mph) to put himself a little under a tenth and a half off Power's top time for the session which saw only three brief interruptions for track inspection and debris clean-up.

The Penske crew had a scare with Juan Pablo Montoya's #2 car for much of practice after it developed a boost sensor issue early in the session, but they were able to get on top of the gremlins in time for Montoya to finish a perfectly respectable 15th fastest with a best effort of 39.8191s (226.022mph.)

All 33 drivers now entered in this year's race took part in the session and completed a total of 1195 laps between them, including Tristan Vautier who has been confirmed at the wheel of the #18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda after regular driver Carlos Huertas was ruled out of competition at the 11th hour with an inner ear condition.

The team needed a driver who could jump straight into the car and run without needing a refresher course or familiarisation session, and that limited the number of viable candidates to just one. Vautier - the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year - was in action last weekend in qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the wheel of the sister DCR car in place of James Davison, who had a pre-existing race commitment in the Pirelli World Challenge. The Australian subsequently returned to duty on Monday and get back to work in the car again prepping for the race itself.

Vautier himself was supposed to be racing a Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 in the Blancpain Endurance Series t Silverstone this weekend, but last minute negotiations with the Akka-ASP team secured him a release that has allowed him to stay in Indianapolis and take over the #18 car from the poorly Huertas. It's thought to be the first time in the event's history that a driver has qualified in one car and then lined up on the starting grid in a different entry.

Vautier immediately proved he was the ideal choice for Dale Coyne as he recorded the 18th fastest time in the session with a best lap of 39.8782s (225.687mph) despite the last minute call-up. Davison was also on the pace on Friday and was 12th fastest with a lap of 39.7214s (226.578mph.)

Because of the driver changes, Verizon IndyCar Series rules require Vautier to line up in 32nd place on the back row of the grid on Sunday, with Davison alongside him in 33rd place. On the other side of Vautier in 31st place will be Ryan Briscoe, who has taken over the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda entry from James Hinchcliffe, who is recovering in hospital from surgery for injuries sustained in a horror practice smash on Monday.

Carb Day was Briscoe's first proper practice session of the Indy 500 following his late call-up which was only confirmed on Thursday, which saw him given a one-hour solo familiarisation session to get used to the new feel of the cars now that they have been fitted with bespoke aero kits, a new development since Briscoe was last racing in the 2014 season.

Briscoe was 30th fastest on Friday and clocked in with a lap of 40.1776s (224.005mph,) putting him just ahead of last year's Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay in the #28 Andretti Autosport Honda.

Slowest in the session were Pippa Mann who was 32nd in the third of the Dale Coyne entries, and Bryan Clauson who was over a second off the pace of the leaders in the #88 KVSH Racing/Jonathan Byrd's Racing Chevrolet.

The Indy Lights series now runs the Freedom 100 race, but the next time that the IndyCar drivers venture out on the two-and-a-half-mile speedway will be on Sunday for the start of the greatest spectacle in motorsport. With a little luck, there might not be any more driver changes in the meantime before the green flag drops to get the race underway.

See full times from practice 11 for the Indianapolis 500.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Justin Wilson resplendent in the Rolling Stones livery for the #25 Andretti Autosport Honda in pit lane on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Josef Newgarden in pit lane on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport   [pic credit: Indycar Media/Joe Skibinski]
Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) celebrates winning the 2016 IndyCar title with victory at Sonoma   [pic credit: Chris Owens]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Ed Jones celebrates winning the 2016 Indy Lights championship
Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing) celebrates at Laguna Seca
Kyle Kaiser - Juncos Racing
Ed Carpenter Racing crew working on the boss` car   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Indy Lights action
Indy Lights title contender Santiago Urrutia, Ed Jones, Dean Stoneman, Felix Serralles, Kyle Kaiser and Zach Veach   [pic credit: IndyCar Media]
Santiago Urrutia - Schmidt Petersen Motorsport
Will Power - Team Penske
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to victory at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to pole at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Graham Rahal celebrates victory in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway   (image credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens)
Scott Dixon leads the Indycar field   [pic credit: Indycar media/Bret Kelley]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Jones]

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May 22, 2015 11:46 PM

Likely it wont be a pole to flag race as is the case in F1. It (Indy500, Pole - Flag) has only happened 21 times out of 98 races. They dont call this "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" for no reason.

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