Marco Andretti, Robert Wickens and Ed Carpenter topped 231mph during Fast Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — but all eyes were on Team Penske heading into qualifying.
While the top trio all posted their speeds in traffic, Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud threw down the fastest laps with no tow.
Power, in the Verizon Chevrolet, posted a lap of 229.780mph with no help and it was the fifth-fastest time of the day.
“I think the No. 12 Verizon Chevy is definitely in a good window,” said Power. “I think, obviously, we’re fast. I know there are lot of guys up there. I think it’s going to be very tight tomorrow, so we’ll know more when everyone goes. It’s always that you can feel fast on Friday, and suddenly go out, no traffic, or wind changes or anything, and the car’s not as good.
“But I felt I’ve been good all month, so we’ll see tomorrow.”
Point leader Newgarden traveled 228.993mph with no tow in the other Verizon Chevy and Pagenaud found 228.857mph in the Menard’s Chevy on an overcast, cool day that saw the first serious accident of the month.
James Davison lost control negotiating Turn 2 and slammed his Byrd/502 East Chevy into the outside wall. David Byrd, along with partners Brian Belardi and Brad Hollinger, put the deal together to lease an A.J. Foyt car for Davison, who escaped injury. The car was damaged but expected to be ready for Saturday’s opening round of time trials.
Andretti, who held the top speed of the month at 227.053mph going into Friday, topped that with a lap of 231.802mph in the US Concrete Honda.
“We’ve been feeling good in traffic, which obviously the tow time shows that, and the car is close in race trim,” said Andretti, who was 12th on the no-tow list. “I’m not pleased with the car speed right now and I think we’re on the bubble of the top nine, to be honest.
“I think it’s going to be all about the third and fourth lap and we’re just going to have to nail it.”
Wickens found 231.732mph in the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Lucas Oil Honda.
“I don’t feel like I fully deserve to be here. My first lap of the day two people came out in front of me and I just got this insane tow,” said Wickens, who has been nothing but impressive in his rookie year with SPM.
“Honestly, we have a lot of work to do. I think we’re okay by ourselves here on Fast Friday but we’re on the outskirts of the Fast 9, which is my goal for tomorrow.”
Carpenter was timed at 231.066mph in the Fuzzy’s Chevy. But Carpenter also was fourth best among all the no-towers at 228.740mph.
With IndyCar upping the engine boost for this weekend’s qualifying, drivers were dealing with 40-50 more horsepower and all 35 entries practiced. Two will be sent home after Saturday.