SPEEDWAY -- One of the many reasons race fans flock to Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is it’s the closest approximation to race running you can see on the IMS oval without being at the Indianapolis 500 itself.
Carb Day lived up to its billing Friday with tight racing, close calls and some irritated drivers.
“When I saw three wide into Turn 1, 20 minutes to go, why do you want to do that? So I'm like, 'I'm out. I don't need this,'” Arrow McLaren driver Tony Kanaan said.
Though there were several problems for several drivers, there were no yellow flags that will jeopardize any of the 33 participants, unlike 2022, when Colton Herta had a spectacular wreck on Carb Day.
“I think the intensity was up. Everyone was kind of race running today, trying to really practice what it was going to be like, which is good, but there's probably a couple moments you just don't want to insert yourself into,” Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden said.
The on-track exchange that came closest to involving contact was a post-yellow tete-a-tete between Santino Ferrucci and Alexander Rossi.
After a yellow flag thrown when Katherine Legge’s car lost a wheel net, Rossi was first out of the pits. Ferrucci was second.
As Rossi adjusted something on his wheel, Ferrucci blazed by him on the pit apron before both entered the track proper. Ferrucci got two wheels on the grass a bit to make the unusual, but legal, pass.
A few laps later, Rossi repaid Ferrucci when he passed the Foyt Enterprises driver on the backstretch, putting two wheels on the grass himself to get the optimal line going into Turn 3, a move reminiscent of Ryan Hunter-Reay’s race-winning move in 2014.
Was any of it necessary? Probably not, but it might give some evidence of how tightly contested Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 will be given the parity within the field.
“I feel like guys get a little crazy on today. I think because they start to give a little bit less, and they run it more like what the race is like, so they're running you deeper into the corner, and if they don't want you to go down the inside, they'll make sure that you can't go there,” Andretti Autosport’s Herta said.
While drivers alternately tested their cars in race trim or practiced pit stops, one thing didn’t change – Chip Ganassi Racing was atop the speed chart again.
Takuma Sato had the fastest speed of the session at 227.855 mph. Right behind was teammate Scott Dixon at 227.285. Alex Palou was fourth at 226.945. Penske’s Will Power broke up the Ganassi gang at the top with a third-best speed of 226.953.
Carb Day did provide some drivers with concerns to weigh.
Ganassi’s fourth driver, defending Indy 500 champion Marcus Ericsson, had loose body work on his left sidepod that required a pit stop.
Dreyer & Reinbold’s Ryan Hunter-Reay was black-flagged due to leaking oil coming from his engine. It was deemed to be a minor issue and was repaired.
Apart from Legge’s wheel nut issue, the other yellow flag for an on-track incident came out when Andretti Autosport’s Devlin DeFrancesco had his right front tire go flat in Turn 2. He avoided contact with the wall.
Some would-be contenders were well down the speed chart. Front-row starters Rinus VeeKay and Felix Rosenqvist were 28th and 33rd (last) respectively. Ferrucci, who starts fourth, was 31st-quickest.
On the positive front, Graham Rahal had his first significant time in Dreyer & Reinbold’s No. 24 car. Rahal turned 77 laps but could only get his car to the 30th-best speed.
With more downforce available to the machines this year and with parity throughout the field, will the race be crazier than recent editions? It’s possible, but the drivers noted the characteristics of clean air and turbulence haven’t changed so much the race will be dramatically altered.
“I just don't think it's going to be that different from last year outside of the very front. The first two cars, it is easier to follow. We have more downforce. But the effect behind the first two cars is sort of similar to where we've been, so I don't think that's going to be drastically different,” Newgarden said.
PIT STOP COMPETITION
The largest-ever field took part in Carb Day’s annual pit stop competition as 16 crews battled for the championship.
The championship came down to a best-of-three between Power and Dixon.
Dixon won Round 1 with a time of 11.561 seconds, besting Power’s 12.047. Round 2 went to Power with an 11.829 to Dixon’s 11.947.
In the winner-take-all final, Dixon wiped out Power with an 11.012 time, the best of the day. Power clocked in at 12.552.
Good weather meant it was a large turnout for Carb Day festivities. Unofficial estimates had the crowd around 75,000, a day that concluded with a Soul Asylum and Bryan Adams concert in the Turn 3 portion of the infield.
Sorry, there are no recent results for popular commented articles.