SPEEDWAY, Ind. — The sequence of the day was a lot different than Tuesday, yet the outcome was largely the same on the speed chart.
Takuma Sato (227.519) and Scott Dixon (227.335) were the top two fastest drivers as far as overall speed is concerned for the second practice in a row. The drivers were eager to return to a dry racecourse after Wednesday’s planned practice was washed out completely because of rain.
Though much of the focus was on race setup, through the middle of the day many drivers took their first crack at qualifying setup, running much lighter downforce in efforts to search for raw speed.
Ed Carpenter had his drivers take several “qual sim” runs, despite the urge to keep working on race setup.
“It’s one of those weird ones like I kind of would have liked to have done what Ganassi did and just do race running all day long, but we also have gone into Fast Friday not in a great headspace for qualifying before, and kind of gotten confused once the boost is turned up,” Carpenter said. “We wanted to go into tomorrow feeling pretty good about our balance at different trim configurations.”
ECR had two drivers among the fastest five cars in terms of “non-tow speed”, which is a car’s speed without the assistance of an aerodynamic tow from a car ahead.
Will Power of Team Penske was fastest in that regard today with a lap at 224.385 mph.
Indy 500 rookie Jimmie Johnson, who has won at IMS four times in a NASCAR Cup car, was given an enlightening lesson on his second practice day.
“The first lesson that I was reminded of is just because you had a good setup on Tuesday doesn’t mean you’re going to have a good setup on Thursday,” said Johnson. “You can’t put your guard down. Things change, and I’m trying to understand why there was a difference.”
For Johnson, the day was all about perfecting his race day setup, as it was for the rest of his Ganassi teammates.
“I feel like today I kind of broke through to a new level of comfort in race trim,” Johnson added. “I still have no clue what it’s going to feel like to go 230 something around here when the boost goes up, but I’ll get into that tomorrow.”
“Fast Friday” is tomorrow and it lives up to its name. Each team is being allotted an extra amount of boost in their engines, which will tune the car to go between 7-10 mph faster than they have been running in the last two practices.
You can expect speeds both in traffic and without a tow to be well north of 230 mph
The extra boost is only for qualifying, which means you’ll be seeing pretty much every driver taking simulated qualifying runs in Friday’s session.
Fast Friday will be the only full day for teams to perfect their qualifying setups ahead of Day 1 of qualifying on Saturday and Pole Day on Sunday, but with the threat of rain in the cards, practice time might be at a significant premium.