The weather was a mild and foggy/cloudy Saturday morning for the two-hour IZOD IndyCar practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The cars were divided into two Groups, with Group One being the top 36 cars in Friday’s Pole Day Qualifying Draw, and Group Two being the rest. Each group got thirty minutes alone, and then they joined for an hour-long full grid session.
Predictably, the Andretti Autosport team did not run, as MARCO ANDRETTI/Andretti Autosport Chevrolet had said Friday night – “There is nothing to learn.”
However, for Rookie CONOR DALY/A.J.Foyt Enterprises Honda, there was a lot to learn. Young Daly missed Friday’s session. His car was being repaired after his big crash Thursday afternoon, and Friday afternoon when it was good to go and Daly was suited up, the afternoon track activities were concluded due to the big thunderstorm. Daly was seen out in Pit Lane, in driver’s suit and rain gear, with a couple of leaf blowers gamely trying to dry the track, to no avail.
Daly ran 30 laps in the first session, running 223.121 mph in P25.
A.J.ALLMENDINGER/Team Penske Chevrolet was fastest in the first group at 229.086 mph, running 14 laps. That time was not eclipsed in the second session. However, AJ could have had the slight benefit of a tow. At Indy, cars can be way apart and still provide/benefit from a tow. The proof will be in the pudding for Qualifying when all the cars have to go out single file.
And therein likes a rub. With the weather having such a poor forecast for Saturday afternoon, there is concern that qualifying will not complete for the top 24 cars, which are locked into their respective grid positions no matter how fast anyone goes after that.
In the morning practice Second Group, JOSEF NEWGARDEN/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda was tops, with 228.609 mph. He ran 10 laps.
In the overall group, WILL POWER/Team Penske Chevrolet quickly drove to the top, perhaps with a tow, turning 229.808, fastest of the weekend. He ran 21 laps.
With thirty minutes to go in the two-hour session, all but one car were already headed to or in their garages. And he – RYAN BRISCOE/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda – quickly left, just ahead of anticipated rain drops.
Then, with eight minutes to go, Daly and Saavedra went out for one last go at it. That tour ended a minute early, with Caution and Checkered Flags, due to possible rain
In all, 25 drivers were on course.
Saavedra turned the most laps – 33, while TOWNSEND BELL/Panther Racing Chevrolet ran five laps. He got extra laps earlier on this week, giving a two-seater ride to NBCSN Pit Lane Reporter, WILL BUXTON, who was experiencing his first-ever Indy 500. He loved the ride and the whole experience, by Saturday he was saying it wouldn’t take much for him to ‘accidently’ miss his flight to Monaco, where he is the NBCSN Pit Lane Reporter for Formula One.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA/Dragon Racing Chevrolet turned the most laps overall-39, while his teammate, SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, watched from the pits. Saavedra turned a 226.442 mph for P16.
Earlier in the week the Saavedra crew had to repaint the blue chrome highlights on the car, as the paint wore off. Bourdais’ car was OK as his red highlights were decals.