(IndyCar.com is providing daily “Indy 500 Live” reports from practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Follow along here with updates throughout each day.)
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – As Day 4 of practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil gets underway, teams are looking to make up for lost track time from a gusty Wednesday.
Winds peaking at 47 mph limited on-track action to just 408 laps among 21 cars on the third day of practice, with Ed Carpenter (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet) leading the way at 222.894 mph. Today’s forecast calls for calmer winds, sun and temperatures in the low-80s, which should make for a more action-packed day on the famed 2.5-mile oval.
Practice runs from noon-6 p.m. ET and is streaming live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com. With a 50 percent chance of rain Friday, look for teams to begin trim their cars out for simulated qualifying runs today.
Howard quick to top charts
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Sage Karam (No. 24 Mecum Auctions Chevrolet) did not post any laps at speed on Wednesday, but was back on it within minutes of the green flag today. On his second lap of the day, the 2013 Indy Lights champion turned in a lap of 225.185 mph, the fastest lap since Monday afternoon and the third-fastest of the month to date.
Soon thereafter, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' Jay Howard (No. 77 Lucas Oil/Team One Cure Honda) bested Karam with a lap of 226.744 mph, marking the fastest lap of the month thus far. Howard is driving a third entry for SPM this month, with support from the Tony Stewart Foundation in the form of Team One Cure, a partnership between the foundation and the Colorado State University Flint Animal Cancer Center, a facility dedicated to developing cutting-edge cancer treatments for people and pets.
Indiana Pacers' coaching staff get up close and personal with INDYCAR
Members of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers coaching staff are on hand today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and spent part of their morning visiting the Andretti Autosport garages. For head coach Nate McMillan, it was his first chance to see the inner workings of an INDYCAR operation in person.
“I have never been (here)," McMillan said, "and I’m just amazed at what all goes into practicing for the race and to see these cars and to just listen to the power and see the power of these cars. Amazing, amazing."
McMillan, assistant coaches Popeye Jones, Dan Burke and other members of the Pacers staff met with Michael Shank Racing with Andretti Autosport, where driver Jack Harvey and team owner Mike Shank spoke about their preparations for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi met with the group as well.
“We were just sitting over there talking with (Rossi, Harvey and Shank) and the things they have to prepare for,” McMillan said. “They talked about the film sessions that they go through. It’s all about team. It’s not just about the driver, it’s certainly about the pit crew, ownership, just like the NBA.”
Newgarden crashes in Turns 1 and 2
The first on-track incident in three days occurred at 1:10 p.m. when Josef Newgarden lost control of his No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet exiting Turn 1 (shown above), made contact with the SAFER Barrier and slid into Turn 2, where he again made light contact with the outside wall.
Newgarden climbed from the car unassisted and was taken to the IU Health Emergency Medical Center in the track infield for further observation. Newgarden was checked, released and cleared to drive.
“I’m fine," Newgarden said. "Tough break for us in the (No.) 2 car with Team Penske. It’s obviously not something you want to do, especially on a day like today – a pretty nice day out, no big issues. I’m disappointed that we ran into a problem.
"I just got called into the pits, so I was coming in and I didn’t want to check up too much for the guys behind me and cause a problem. It just seemed to get away from me. Until I get to look at everything, I’m not 100 percent sure what caused it. We were having a really good day."
Watch video of the incident here:
Bourdais brings out mid-afternoon yellow
At 3:17 p.m., Dale Coyne Racing's Sebastien Bourdais (No. 18 Sonny's BBQ Honda) brought out the yellow flag when he slowed on the back straightaway with smoke trailing the car. At the time of the yellow, Howard still held the fastest lap of the day at 226.744 mph, followed by Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay (225.826) and Marco Andretti (225.709).
Checkered falls, Howard stays fastest
The second half of the afternoon ran without issue for the rest of the field, as open running – with occasional pauses for track inspections – continued until the checkered flag at 6 p.m. With teams focusing on handling in traffic over raw speed, Howard stayed atop the time sheets at the end of the day.
At the conclusion of practice, the top five were:
1) Jay Howard (No. 77 Lucas Oil/Team One Cure Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda) - 226.744 mph
2) Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda) - 225.826 mph
3) Marco Andretti (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Andretti Autosport Honda) - 225.709 mph
4) Fernando Alonso (No. 29 McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda) - 225.619 mph
5) Josef Newgarden (No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) - 225.455 mph
Takuma Sato posted the best lap without a tow, at 224.734 mph in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda.
Practice for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 resumes Friday at noon ET for "Fast Friday." Engine turbocharger boost is raised to qualifying-levels, which should mean increased speeds for the final day of practice before the weekend's qualifying sessions. Live streaming of practice can be found at RaceControl.IndyCar.com.