Ed Jones delivered the daily double Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as Ed Carpenter Racing had another impressive practice period for the 103rd Indianapolis 500, but it was tough sledding for rookie Pato O’Ward.
Jones turned the fastest lap of Day 3 of practice at 227.843 mph in the ECR Scuderia Corsa Chevy, and then threw down the best speed of the day with no tow at 224.957 mph – the quickest lap of the week without the benefit of a draft.
“We rolled off the trailer really good, and it’s just a lot of credit to Ed (Carpenter) that this team is so well prepared,” said Jones, who finished third as a rookie here in 2017. “It’s difficult for a lot of teams to run three cars, but as we saw last year with Danica (Patrick), they’ve given me a car capable of fighting at the front.
“It’s the first time I’ve been on a team where the owner is the driver, and he knows what it takes to have a good car around here, so I’m trying to learn as much as I can from him.”
Teammate Spencer Pigot continued his impressive week by posting the second fastest speed without a tow (224.887 mph) and Carpenter was seventh-best at 223.820 mph in the Preferred Freezer Chevy.
“Everything is good, this team works together so well and my car felt great today,” said Pigot, who qualified sixth a year ago driving for Carpenter.
On the warmest, windiest day of the week so far, the overall speeds were down a couple of mph, with Takuma Sato and Zach Veach second and third on the speed chart at 226 mph.
But for the second-straight day, Turn 2 claimed a rookie driver. After Felix Rosenqvist smacked the wall on Wednesday, Pato O’Ward was practicing in his Carlin Chevy when he got low, snapped loose and pounded the outside barrier. The impact got air under the car and it nearly flipped, but fortunately came back to earth rightsize up and the 20-year-old Mexican escaped injury.
“That was a wild ride,” O’Ward told NBC Gold while watching the replay. “I’m not really sure what happened, but suddenly I was backwards. I’m just thankful to be OK.”
Owner Trevor Carlin pitched in and was helping prep a backup car for O’Ward, but another backup car was also in the news.
Fernando Alonso wiped out his primary entry on Wednesday against the inside and outside walls in the north short chute and Turn 4 shortly after noon. His McLaren team rolled out the backup Dallara/Chevy and spent the night and all of Thursday working on it, but it still wasn’t ready when the rains ended practice early. Consequently, the two-time world champion was the only one of the 36 drivers not to turn a lap.