Despite only having two days of practice, Fast Friday arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. This is typically the day that drivers get an added boost of horsepower and reach the fastest speeds of the month as they prepare for qualifications tomorrow. Mother Nature threw a wrinkle into those plans though. Not with rain, but incredibly gusty winds.

Practice began after a 45-minute delay when timing and scoring lost power on pit lane. Once that was sorted out, a handful of drivers began to tip-toe onto the oval. The wind gusts of nearly 40 mph made the conditions quite tricky for the guys behind the wheel. With several close calls and not much to be gained from running, the action was few and far between for most of the afternoon.

The most intense moment came around 1:30 when Jimmie Johnson slid high exiting Turn 2 and smacked the outside SAFER barrier. His No. 48 Honda hit squarely with both right-side wheels, which helped minimize the damage. “I've been trying to study,” Johnson said afterward. “The wind direction is massive today. I felt like I had the corner made. I got square with the wall, but with the late exit and wind at my backside, I just needed six more inches.”

“I’ve hit plenty of things during my career in racing,” Johnson continued. “Luckily it wasn’t a full yard sale, it was just crossing the line a little bit. I was able to download with my teammates and get a better feel for positions with the tools inside the car. I was too cautious with my settings and had a lot of understeer in the car, and I just didn’t get on top of it quick enough.”

Johnson went out later in the day and put down one of the fastest four-lap averages in a qualifying simulation. He wasn't the only driver to have a heart-stopping moment on Friday. Even his veteran teammate Tony Kanaan struggled with the conditions. "In the 21 years that I’ve been here, these are the toughest conditions I’ve ever experienced," the 2013 Indy 500 winner told Marshall Pruett.

Kanaan went out in the final minutes of Happy Hour and posted a four-lap average of 230.517 mph in his No. 1 Ganassi machine, which was the best of the day. He took that top spot away from rookie David Malukas, who has taken to this track very well. The Dale Coyne Racing cars have been hooked up all week. David's teammate Takuma Sato had the fastest single lap speed of the day once again. The two-time Indy 500 winner post a 232.789 mph lap in his No. 51 Honda.

"We divided the program so David had more downforce," Sato said of the team's plan for today. "It’s good to have at both ends, and we’ll just combine it tomorrow. I would say Lap 3 and Lap 4 are the key. It’s a great feeling, the entire team did a fantastic job to prepare for this."

The tailwind that drivers experienced down the backstretch today was hair-raising to say the least. Conor Daly used that to carry his No. 20 Chevrolet into Turn 3 at an eye-popping 244.4 mph. “Every mile an hour feels like an extra mile an hour at that speed,” Daly said. “It’s insane speed. It’s hard to describe. I mean, the track conditions are just unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

"I think tomorrow is going to be quite different with less wind," said Pato O'Ward. "I think we were one of the first cars to complete four laps and we have seen where it goes to. It’s a bit terrifying. The conditions are just very unpredictable. That first run, it was decently hairy!" The Arrow McLaren SP ace will be the first driver to qualify tomorrow, as the qualifying order is now set.

Following O'Ward will be fellow Chevrolet driver Rinus VeeKay. Callum Ilott will be the first rookie to go out, then O'Ward's teammate Felix Rosenqvist will be next in line with rookies Romain Grosjean, Jimmie Johnson, and Devlin DeFrancesco up next. Veterans JR Hildebrand, Juan Montoya, and Sato round out the first ten drivers, with Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, and Kanaan going in order.

With rain in the forecast for tomorrow afternoon, IndyCar has moved up the start of qualifying to 11 AM local time. The cars will be split into two groups for morning practice, which now begins at 8:30 tomorrow. Each group will get 30 minutes of practice time before it is time to qualify for next Sunday's race. If all 33 cars are not able to make a qualifying attempt tomorrow due to the rain, it will all start over again on Sunday.

Teams will be vying for a spot inside the top 12, which will run again on Sunday to determine the six fastest drivers. Those six will make another attempt after that to determine the pole sitter and front two rows for the race.

Ed Carpenter, who has started on pole three times here, is not thrilled with the new procedure. "I do love qualifying here, but I don't know that I love doing two runs within 30 minutes. It's kind of nice to do one and then recharge the batteries a little bit because it is stressful and draining, even though it's only four laps. But it's the same for everyone. It will be interesting for sure."

Hildebrand elaborated more on all of the factors that will go into qualifying this weekend. "You can choose how you want to approach that risk," said the 2011 Rookie of the Year. "Do I want to keep my time, or give it another go? You’ve seen a lot of the cars that are right on the bubble of making it into the top nine in the past that are usually in that category. It’s been exciting, right down to the wire for the last several years, so I’m always a fan of mixing things up and trying new things. The elimination-style format has definitely been something that works."

The important thing to remember for tomorrow is that positions 13-33 will be set in the event that everyone is able to make an attempt. Those 21 drivers will know where they are starting in the race, and they will not be on the track at all on Sunday.