A big tow party at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway fired off in the final 90 minutes of Wednesday’s six-hour practice session, where Chip Ganassi Racing’s Takuma Sato took the top spot from teammate Scott Dixon with a lap of 229.439mph in the No. 11 Honda. The two-time Indy 500 winner would not be headed and led a day that featured a Ganassi driver atop the speed chart for all but a few minutes of the six hours.
“I think it was a really solid, good day,” Sato said. “We learned quite a few things. In the end, we’re gathering and putting everything together. It was definitely good to see all Ganassi cars near the top.”
At 5:15pm — with 45 minutes remaining — the top five had a new player as Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden made big gains in the draft to lay claim to fifth with a 227.370mph lap in the No. 2 Chevy.
Approaching 5:30pm, Colton Herta was the first to break up the CGR lockout by inserting his No. 26 Honda into fourth with a lap of 228.057mph. Nine minutes later, the biggest mover of the day vaulted the No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing Chevy into third as Santino Ferrucci used a huge draft to deliver a lap of 228.997, and not longer after, Penske’s Scott McLaughlin towed his way to fifth with the 228.473mpg lap in the No. 3 Chevy.
Amid the last-minute shuffling, the top six was eventually set with Sato, Dixon, Ferrucci, Palou, McLaughlin, and Herta, giving Honda a 1-2-4-6 and Chevy a 2-5 on the day as CGR settled for a 1-2-4-7 with Ericsson just missing out.
“The car was fast right out of the gate, which was great to see,” said Dixon, whose best lap was the one to beat for most of the session. “It was also great to see all four Ganassi cars running right near the top throughout the day. We’ll work through our list and keep working at it.”
Outside the fastest cluster of cars, a few more teams and drivers stood out for their efforts as Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Ryan Hunter-Reay sat comfortably in eighth with the No. 23 Chevy and teammate Stefan Wilson wasn’t far behind in 15th with the No. 24 entry.
Jack Harvey led the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing squad with a run to 11th in the No. 30 Honda; teammate Graham Rahal, who brushed the wall early in the afternoon, returned and found more speed, which jumped the No. 15 Honda to 13th.
One of the most impressive performance belonged to oval neophyte Agustin Canapino, whose first big run in the draft put the No. 78 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevy in 10th. By the time more drivers put up their big-tow laps he was relegated to 22nd, but considering how little he knows about oval racing, it was a remarkable demonstration by the Argentinian.
His teammate Callum Ilott wasn’t as fortunate, as the same issues that plagued his car at the Indy Open Test continued. Although the car was less evil to drive, it lacked speed, leaving the Briton frustrated in 34th.
The one nice surprise of the day was authored by Abel Motorsports and RC Enerson as the team turned its first laps in IndyCar. After completing his Rookie Orientation Program obligations, Enerson ran somewhere between 30th and 33rd which, considering what the brand-new team is up against, defied every prediction of the No. 50 Chevy being permanently welded to last place.
We’ll see what another six hours of running brings us on Thursday, but so far, some interesting themes are already emerging at the 107th running of the Indy 500.
UP NEXT: Thursday Practice, 12pm-6pm ET, Live on Peacock