INDIANAPOLIS – Tony Kanaan found himself in a familiar place atop the speed chart Friday at the final practice for the Indianapolis 500, while Honda appeared to find a little more speed on Carb Day.
Kanaan paced the field with a lap of 227.791 mph, underscoring the might that Chevrolet has shown all month. But he was followed by three Honda-powered cars driven by Scott Dixon, Marco Andretti and Sebastien Bourdais, a sign of just how wide open Sunday’s race figures to be.
“I’ve started first. I’ve started last. So I’ve been at both ends,” said Kanaan, who will start 10th for A.J. Foyt Racing. “If it goes right we have a pretty good chance. I think we can get there.”
Danica Patrick was the eighth-quickest in the final practice session of her racing career. Patrick posted her lap of 223.653 early in the hour-long session, before an electrical issue sent her to the garage. Her team from Ed Carpenter Racing was elbows-deep in the engine bay but managed to correct the problem, sending her back onto the track for the final six minutes of practice.
That was enough time to make sure the car was ready and to practice a full pit stop.
“These are the things you’re glad for because had it been Sunday, we’d have been done for good,” Patrick said. “The car was good when I first took off, turned really well, felt good. Made a little change as we were about to go out for the second time and it made it a little worse.”
Much like Kanaan, whose engineers also toyed with his car through practice, Patrick was planning to go back to her original setup when she starts from the inside of the third row Sunday.
“The cars seem to be finicky for balance,” Patrick said of the redesigned IndyCar chassis, “but I’m just happy to know it was good when we first took off.”
Carpenter, who won the pole, was 14th quickest but steered clear of trouble, and he said later not to put too much stock into lap times.
The new car handles much differently in clean air than in traffic, tire wear is crucial and the weather is expected to be much warmer on Sunday. The forecast calls for temperatures in the low 90s, perhaps setting a record for the hottest race.
“It’s not quite as hot as it’s going to be on race day, so I’m trying to think about what it’s going to be like,” said Josef Newgarden, who will start inside the second row for Team Penske. “They key is with the heat this year, it’s not going to be perfect.”
Kanaan turned his fastest lap early in Friday’s practice session, then his team began tinkering with different setups. They tried to anticipate the temperature changes for Sunday, and how his car would react in different conditions, before wrapping things up with a group hug.
“I grabbed the guys after the run, I said, ‘The work is done. I think you guys have to rest,’” Kanaan said. “Yeah, some of the fun parts will begin with the dinners and the parade, and Sunday is go-time.”
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