Scott Dixon was fastest in Wednesday Indianapolis 500 practice but issued no boisterous claims over what it meant or didn’t mean regarding the rest of the month.
The six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion posted a 226.829 mph lap in his No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda to pace the six-hour session. Wednesday brought warmer temperatures than opening day and the resulting handling challenges, leaving Dixon wanting more moving forward.
“I felt like I was little more comfortable yesterday,” said Dixon, who was eighth fastest Tuesday at 224.988. “Obviously, track conditions are different. The wind direction, especially (Turns) 2 to 4, swaps pretty big. The track temp was up today.
“Once it gets a bit hotter, I think everybody has a bit of washout, and it’s harder to stay closer. We’ll see with the race, but it looks right now like the race will be pretty cool, which will definitely make for a pretty robust race for people to watch. It’s going to be tight.”
To his point, Wednesday was humid and in the mid-80s, while race day is expected to be in the cool 70s.
Dixon was fastest ahead of the Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolets of Conor Daly (226.372) and Ed Carpenter (226.103), with Ganassi Hondas of Marcus Ericsson (226.007) and Tony Kanaan (225.774 in completing the top-five.
“There are so many competitive cars out there, so, as always, it’s going to be a very tough race,” Dixon said. “Happy all the Ganassi cars are fast. Nice to see the No. 9 up top.”
The top speeds all came with the benefit of a draft, what is called a tow in IndyCar nomenclature, with 34 drivers combining to turn 3,326 laps during the session. Alexander Rossi, the 2016 Indy 500 winner, was fastest without a tow at 221.114 mph in the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda.
Dixon, Carpenter and Kanaan were surprised at the number of mock qualifying runs on Wednesday as opposed to waiting for Fast Friday when the turbo boost is turned up.
“I was actually surprised to see so many people doing qual sims today,” Dixon said, “which was very strange. So, I don’t know. Yeah, the no tows, I don’t know, we were just in race runs all day today.”
“Yeah, I was surprised, too,” Carpenter said, “because we were out there thinking there was going to be a group, and everyone started doing Q sims, and I was like, ‘hmm, I guess we’ll just wait.’
Kanaan wasn’t even aware that so many teams chose to mock up as his team was so deep into working on race trim.
“I did not see that, so I was busy trying to make my car better for the race,” Kanaan said. “I was definitely not doing qualifying sims, that’s for sure.”
During the NBC Peacock streaming broadcast, Daly cited the Penske cars as being “really good” but added that teams “haven’t really let the horses run” with one more day of practice before the boost is turned up.
“We knew we were quick all day and worked on a lot of things we wanted and went deep into traffic and still feel okay,” Daly said on the broadcast. “I had to lift for my best lap. Either way, the car’s awesome. If you’re fast every day, that means the car is fast. We’ve still got things to work through, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Only one driver failed to turn a lap in open practice Wednesday and that was RC Enerson and the No. 75 Top Gun Racing Chevrolet. Enerson was given additional time to complete his Rookie Orientation Program in the morning and did so with 48 laps and a best speed of 216.056 mph.
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