The Verizon IndyCar Series had its first/only practice before the afternoon qualifying session, so many of the drivers had their cars in qualifying mode. The one+ mile tri-oval track was power washed Thursday night, and prior to the IndyCars-which run on Firestone Tires, the only track activity was the 45-minute practice of the Indy Lights cars, which run Cooper Tires. The track was green.

Ed Carpenter

At the end of the extended session it was the two-car Chevrolet team of Ed Carpenter Racing which came out on top. Ed Carpenter/No.20, who only races ovals and hasn’t raced since Pocono last August, was fastest at 192.400 mph/0.19.1227 seconds. His teammate, Josef Newgarden/No.21 was second at 191.225 mph. Third through fifth were Helio Castroneves/No.3 REV Group Team Penske Chevrolet, Tony Kanaan/No.10 GE LED Chip Ganassi Racing Teams – who had been fastest near the end of the session, and Simon Pagenaud/No.22 Devilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet.

Max Chilton

Max Chilton/No.8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing, who led mid-session, was the top Rookie in tenth position. While he is an IndyCar Rookie, he ran Indy Lights last season and has oval experience.

The top ten drivers, all Chevrolets, topped 190 mph.

Ryan Hunter-Reay/No.28 DHL Andretti Autosport was the top Honda, in eleventh, at 189.766 mph.

The morning session started with a bang. Nine minutes into the session Takuma Sato/No.14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda hit the outside wall hard in Turn One. Sato was not hurt – checked, cleared and released from the Infield Care Center. But the car will definitely need repairs. He had just gotten up to speed when the car broke loose and he back ended the SAFER Barrier, bringing out the first caution. “We were doing a qualifying sim, so unfortunately, we lost the back end and it caused pretty good damage, but hopefully we can come back.” Sato ended up twentieth for the session. The downtime was recouped by adding ten minutes to the 75-minute session. Charlie Kimball/No.83 Tresiba Chip Ganassi Racing Teams Chevrolet was fastest at the time at 188.883 mph.

Takuma Sato's accident

Takuma Sato after accident

Takumo Sato's car

The second caution came at 10:29am when James Hinchcliffe/No.5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda hit the outside Turn Two wall – broke loose and rear-ended the SAFER Barrier. He was checked, cleared and released from the Infield Care Center. The car needs work. This is Hinch’s first oval track race after his horrific accident during the Indy 500 practice last May. “I was doing a quali sim and the thing just snapped. It’s tough to tell, man. We were just on a qualifying simulation, and had a bunch of understeer in the car and were making small adjustments in the car to try to dial it out. Turns 3 and 4 is normally a bit looser than Turns 1 and 2, and we had understeer even in Turns 3 and 4, so I made a small adjustment on the front bar and the next lap I had some understeer getting into it and the thing just snapped. It’s a huge kick in the nuts obviously for a race we have as little track time as we have here.” Hinchcliffe was 18th overall for the session. Chilton was fastest at the time, at 190.134 mph.

The third and fourth cautions were briefly for track inspection, and the last ended the session. Total caution time was 39.45 minutes, and the 22 cars ran 658 laps.

Next up is qualifying at 2pm local time.

All photos by Pablo Matamoros.

Last Modified on April 1, 2016
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