Dixon leads Fast Friday as Ganassi, Honda show strength at Indy

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Dixon leads Fast Friday as Ganassi, Honda show strength at Indy


Dixon leads Fast Friday as Ganassi, Honda show strength at Indy


With an extra 90hp on tap for Fast Friday, average speeds rocketed above 230mph for 27 out of the 35 cars as Honda and Chip Ganassi Racing made bold statements to lead the field with a best of 223.302mph in the No. 9 entry.

CGR held P1-2-3-4 with its four cars with 12 minutes to go, but Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta broke up the group with a blast to P2 at 232.784mph in the No. 27 Honda. On the no-tow report (NTR), which identifies the best laps turned without help from an aerodynamic tow, Dixon was P6 and Herta was P4, suggesting their overall speeds were mostly clean while performing their four-lap qualifying simulations.

Behind them, the rest of the top six featured CGR’s Tony Kanaan in the No. 48 Honda (232.690mph, P12 NTR), CGR’s Marcus Ericsson in the No. 8 Honda (232.531mph, P7 NTR), CGR’s Alex Palou in the No. 10 Honda (232.155mph, P8 NTR), and with the first Chevy, Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward in the No. 5 entry in P6 (232.034mph, P3 NTR).

“I think honestly, all four of our cars look very strong,” Dixon said. “The good thing for us is we have a lot of good data to look at tonight. You know, we’re slightly different (with the No. 9’s setup) to the other three cars. But you know, Ericsson, Kanaan, and Palou look very strong. Palou’s last run was stout, man.”

Run in ambient temperatures that hovered in the mid-80s and climbing track temperatures that surpassed 120F, the 35 drivers were busy when practice started at Noon, and towards the end of the afternoon as Happy Hour arrived. Most surprising were the handful of entries to put up big speeds in the middle of the six-hour session, often without the help of a meaningful tow.

One fact stood out throughout Fast Friday, and that was the big and easy speeds on display from Honda’s teams. The comparative lack of impressive speed from Chevy was shown by Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden in P22 (230.479mph), who led a group of 13 Chevy-powered cars in P22-P35; only Marco Andretti, Honda’s slowest driver in P26, prevented the Bowtie from having the 14th slowest cars on Fast Friday. Up front, Hondas held 12 of the fastest 15 laps, with Chevy breaking through in P6, P12, and P15.

O’Ward in P6 should give Chevy fans some optimism due to his NTR speed, but after that, Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay’s run to P12 (NTR of P14) and boss Ed Carpenter in P15 (NTR of P10) were the two best laps without a draft. The rest of Chevy’s drivers were P22 or lower on the NTR.

For the sake of overexplaining the obvious AMSP and ECR led Chevy’s efforts on Friday; among the biggest surprises was the lack of pace from Team Penske with the aforementioned Newgarden up front for the program in P22 and his teammates trailing in P24 with Scott McLaughlin, Will Power in P29, and Simon Pagenaud in P30.

Penske-affiliated Simona de Silvestro in the No. 16 Paretta Autosport Chevy was P32 on the day, and on the proverbial bubble, A.J. Foyt Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais was P33, with teammate Charlie Kimball in P34. Top Gun Racing, which missed the first 2h30m of practice, turned 33 laps with RC Enerson in the No. 75 Chevy. Enerson’s best was 226.055mph, for P35 and P35 on the NTR.



With Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing forced to sit for 30 minutes as a result of Thursday’s ill-fated photo opportunity, the start to Fast Friday featured an immediate qualifying simulation run with Conor Daly who clocked a best lap of 230.200mph at 12:05 p.m. ET. “That was outta control,” Daly said. Only seven drivers were on pit lane to start the six-hour session that opened with high winds and temperatures in the low 80s.

Alex Palou was next, taking P2 with a best of 229.819mph at 12:17 p.m. At 12:25, and with the aid of a tow, Ed Jones took P1 with a lap of 231.569mph. Scott Dixon nestled in with a 230.698mph run to P2, which came with a P1 on the No Tow Report (NTR). Pato O’Ward was next, demoting Dixon to P3 with a 231.014mph.

Another Ed climbed towards the top as Ed Carpenter claimed P3 at 230.741mph as 12:45 p.m. approached. Takuma Sato took P2 at 12:46 p.m. at 231.243mph and a new P1 on the NTR. Most of the field—27 cars—were on pit lane and either running or getting ready to go out. For the fourth straight day, Top Gun Racing was not part of that group when the green flag waved at 12 p.m.

The fastest driver on Thursday, Tony Kanaan, elevated himself to P4 with a 230.762mph at 12:52 p.m. and P2 on the NTR.

At 1 p.m., more changes to the top six were on display with Jones in P1 (231.569mph), Sato (231.243mph), Alexander Rossi (231.052mph), O’Ward (231.014mph), Graham Rahal (230.875mph), and Kanaan (230.762mph).

By 2 p.m., with track temperatures rising, the top six remained unchanged. The crashed car of Santino Ferrucci was on pit lane and in a Top Gun update, the No. 75 Chevy was still in the garage.

At 2:05 p.m., Palou improved to P3 with a best of 231.203mph, which was P2 on the NTR. At 2:14 p.m., Ferrucci ventured out and in to complete an installation lap, climbing from the car while his mechanics looked over the fully rebuilt machine.

Top Gun Racing finally joined the party at 2:30 p.m. as Enerson went straight into a qualifying simulation with a three-lap run at 224.736mph, which placed the No. 75 Chevy in P34 of the 34 cars that registered a full lap, and P32 on the NTR.

At 3 p.m. on the dot, Scott Dixon motored to P3 with a 231.292mph, which was also good for P2 on the NTR. The first caution of the day landed at 3:02 p.m. for a track inspection. The top six was Jones in P1 (231.569mph), Sato (231.243mph), Dixon (231.292mph), Palou (231.208mph), Rossi (231.052mph), and O’Ward (231.014mph). Enerson performed another qualifying sim, taking the No. 75 up to six laps turned, but his best speed did not improve.

The return to green shortly after 3:15 p.m. has two takers heading out in Simon Pagenaud and Sage Karam as the other 33 drivers sat on pit lane or waited for their cars to be readied in Gasoline Alley.

Rossi added some spice at 3:23 p.m. with a shot to P1 at 231.598mph and P1 on the NTR. Enerson continued qualifying runs in the No. 75, increasing his lap count to 10, but his best was a shade under the 224.736mph from earlier in the day, achieving a 224.724mph.

Marcus Ericsson fired another Ganassi car towards the top, earning P5 at 3:39 p.m. with a 231.226mph, which was good for P4 on the NTR.

At 3:40 p.m., the top 10 among engine providers had Honda in P1-P6, Chevy in P7, and Honda P7-P10.

Tony Kanaan knocked Rossi down to P2 at 3:43 p.m. with a 231.717mph, which was only worth P8 on the NTR.

With the ambient up to 84F at 4 p.m., the track was being used sparingly. The top six was Kanaan, Rossi, Jones, Sato, Herta, and Dixon.

Rinus VeeKay took P6 at 4:46 p.m. with a 231.325mph with the help of a tow (P13 on NTR).

Make that Colton Herta in P1 at 4:50 p.m. at 232.136mph and P3 on the NTR. And with a 240.359mph top speed into Turn 3. Ericsson was next, taking P2 at 232.054 minutes before 5 p.m. and a P5 on the NTR.

Dixon took us to a new high with 233.302mph and P1, with P4 on the NTR right at 5 p.m.

The start of Happy Hour had Dixon in the lead (233.302mph, NTR P4), Herta in P2 (232.136mph, NTR 3), Ericsson (232.054mph, NTR 5), Kanaan (231.717mph, NTR 12), Rossi (231.598mph, NTR 1), and Jones in P6 (231.569mph, NTR 24).

The manufacturer spread was Honda P1-7, Chevy in P8, Honda in P9, and Chevy in P10.

At 5:18 p.m., Palou joined Dixon, taking P2 at 232.155mph, and P6 on the NTR.

On the TGR—the Top Gun Report, Enerson was up to 23 laps, and improved to 226. 055mph, but was still P35 on the chart and on the NTR.

Another track inspection caution appeared at 5:23 p.m. and came down at 5:34 p.m., giving drivers a clear and clean track to chase more qualifying speed.

At 5:35 p.m., O’Ward went to P5 and P3 on the NTR with a 232.034mph. At 5:41, Kanaan claimed P2 at 232.690mph, P12 on the NTR. Herta spoiled the Ganassi 1-2-3-4 at 5:48 p.m. with a blast to P2 at 232.784mph and P6 on the NTR, and the order did not change as the session came to an end.