June 14, 2024

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Dixon leads Indy 500 Carb Day practice

Dixon leads Indy 500 Carb Day practice

Scott Dixon led Carb Day times at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday as the IndyCar field completed its final preparations ahead of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

Dixon’s best lap of 227.226 mph in the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda came within the first half-hour, and she remained unbeaten throughout the two-hour session.

“I thought we came out pretty good,” said Dixon, who will start 21st. “We tried to make some changes in the sequence; some were a little bit okay, some not so much. I think the track conditions changed a little bit from start to finish as well. But it was a good day, the car looks very fast, and it was consistent. There were moments where the car was a bit neutral but I think others were in the same situation. It’s just Carb Day, which doesn’t mean much, so we’ll keep our heads down and try to make the most of it.

Helio Castroneves made it a 1-2 Honda with a best speed of 226.939 mph in the No. 06 Meyer Shank Racing entry, leaving Pato O’Ward to round out the top three with a speed of 226.666 mph in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet. Colton Herta (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda) and Tom Blomqvist (No. 66 Meyershank Honda) rounded out the top five.

The day passed mostly without drama, and the only yellow of any consequence came with 15 minutes to go when Kyle Larson ran the fuel tank of the No. 17 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet dry. Shortly before that, Larson had also had some time in the pits when he was practicing straight stops and the team had trouble securing the left front, forcing him to jump back on the brakes just as he was preparing to go.

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“I thought the handling of my car was good,” he said afterward. “I wasn’t absorbing as well as I thought I did on Monday. And then the pit stop, just getting familiar with all of that. Obviously it’s a little different than a NASCAR pit stop — charging the pit lane, I had to leave hard a few times there. It felt good.” Towards all that, so I feel like we checked a lot of boxes before the race.

Elsewhere, few drivers were disappointed to find themselves with cars not behaving as well as they did on Monday, but none more so, as Santino Ferrucci, driver of AJ Foyt’s No. 14 Chevrolet, returned to the garage after just 30 minutes. Because he was handling the car. Too bad.

“We are obviously rebuilding cars throughout the week; our aero balance was wrong by 3.5% towards the front, which is unusual,” he said during the session. “The weight distribution is not where we want it. Unfortunately, they won’t fix any of those things in the parking lot. We tried first aid, but it didn’t work, the car was very loose in the middle of turns one and three, and I actually understeered the car a few times. Way more flexible than I was in qualifying. So the boys are rushing and now I’m really counting on them to get them back here in the next 20 minutes so we can get some practice in.

The team got the car back and it was better, but not better enough. He returned to the garage with 40 minutes to go, and that did the trick: he came back and finished the day with a more representative speed of 223.963 mph.

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There were similar complaints from RLL’s Christian Lundgaard, who spent the day settling in with new strategist Ben Siegel after Peter Baron left the team on Monday. But his problems were not quite on Ferrucci’s level, and he finished the day 19th fastest at 224.287 mph.

The session ended under caution when the yellow light came out for debris in the final minute, although most of the cars had already returned to the pits.