According to Patricio O’Ward, there are those who will crash at Indy, and those who have crashed at Indy. On Thursday, he became one of the latter.
The young Mexican, hoping to qualify for his first Indianapolis 500, walked away from a big hit in turn two during Thursday’s rain-shortened practice session, nearly turning his Carlin Chevy on its lid.
O’Ward lost the rear end of his Dallara mid-corner, then smacked the outside wall. Sliding sideways down the backstretch, the car lifted on to its side, then fell back down before it could turn over. Shortly after being released from the infield care center, the rookie was signing autographs for some eager fans.
It was the lone incident on Thursday following an eventful session on Wednesday that saw both Fernando Alonso’s McLaren Chevy and Felix Rosenqvist’s Ganassi Honda make contact with the wall.
O’Ward’s misfortune means his Carlin Racing team, fielding three cars including Alonso’s McLaren, is in for another long night in the garage just two days before qualifying for the 103rd Indy 500 begins.
Teammate Spencer Pigot also looked quick for the second straight day, putting his ECR entry eighth on the charts at 225.35 mph. Carpenter, while not as speedy as his two young teammates, finished the day 13th. However, the team looks like a top contender for the pole on Sunday, as Jones also led on the no-tow speed charts with Pigot in second, trailing by less than a tenth of a mile per hour.
But ECR’s consistency wasn’t the only surprise of the day. Kyle Kaiser, in his sponsorless, all-white Juncos Racing machine, had posted the seventh quickest lap of the day — 225.39 mph — by the time weather ended all track activities for the day around 4:30 p.m. local time. Without a sponsor to adorn the side pods, Juncos and Kaiser’s participation in this year’s race looked to be very much in doubt. But if the 2017 Indy Lights champion can retain that speed through the weekend, Kaiser would not only start among the fastest 33 drivers, but could maybe even contend for a win.
The two quickest clean laps today – laps without a tow – belong to these two!@Edjonesracing was fastest at 224.957 mph and @SpencerPigot was just behind in second at 224.887 mph. pic.twitter.com/jxyTceT3rt
— Ed Carpenter Racing (@ECRIndy) May 16, 2019
Other drivers among the top 10 included 2017 Indy 500 champ Takuma Sato, who ended the day just a tick slower than Jones. Sato was followed by Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach at 226.07 mph, Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastian Bourdais at 225.96 mph, and then Herta at 225.48 mph. Sage Karam laid down a lap at 225.40 mph to end the day in sixth, followed by Kaiser, Pigot, defending NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, and last week’s winner Simon Pagenaud.
Josef Newgarden, who led the field on Wednesday, only managed the 21st-fastest lap of the day at 224.34 mph. His teammate, Will Power, was just a few ticks faster at 224.858 mph, good enough for 14th on the charts.
Fast Friday practice begins at 11 a.m. ET and will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Gold. Drivers will have increased boost levels over the weekend — meaning even quicker speeds — as they prepare for the run for Pole Position over the weekend.
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