SPEEDWAY, Ind. — It was another shortened test day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for IndyCar drivers prepping for the Indianapolis 500.
But, the shortening of the session was due to the morning’s weather and not due to questionable track conditions as it had been on Wednesday.
For two hours and ten minutes, in more consistent sunny conditions once the rain cleared, 31 drivers turned thousands of laps to try and figure out what they have or could have for the month of May.
Josef Newgarden paced the field for the second test day with a top speed of 229.519.
“It was very productive actually,” “When we got into the swing of it it went really well. The weather conditions turned pretty beautiful near the end. Near perfect.”
Defending GMR Grand Prix winner Rinus Veekay had the best speed without the help of a tow from a driver in front of him at 221.314. Of the top five cars in the non-tow category, two were Ed Carpenter Racing cars (Veekay & Daly), two were AJ Foyt cars (Hildebrand & Kellett), and one from Team Penske (McLaughlin).
Marcus Ericsson spent the most time on the track turning 148 laps for the day. His Ganassi teammate, Tony Kanaan, preparing for what could be his last Indianapolis 500, was second quickest overall.
“As a team we are competitive,” Kanaan concluded. “Today we did quite a bit. We have five cars so we are sharing a bunch of things. We had five cars in the top ten so that was a pretty good day for us.”
Jimmie Johnson had the second-most laps with a lap a best lap at 227.900, which had him the eighth fastest on the day. Johnson, a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, is a rookie to the Indianapolis 500 this year, after only running road courses the previous season.
“Yesterday I was disappointed to not get more laps, so for the track to be as good as it was today was great,” Johnson said. “We’re all trying to be the fastest car out there. I needed to get on the rev limiters in sixth gear going into Turns 1 and 3. I feel I really needed that. Now I need to learn how to pass!”
Some of the drivers said there is still some work to do on the racing surface in the warm-up lanes, but they agreed the grip level was better on Thursday than Wednesday. A few drivers spun out during the first day in the same spot of the warm-up lanes prompting IndyCar race directors to end the session early.
For Newgarden, the testing results are a big confidence boost.
“Things feel really good on the 2-car,” “It’s going forward every single time. We want to keep that cadence throughout the year. I feel really confident with what we’ve got and I feel good about showing up anywhere.”
As the series points leader, that confidence will come in handy as the drivers will sit on their data from the last two days and now turn their attention to getting ready for the next race on the schedule at Barber Motorsports Park for the Grand Prix of Alabama on May 1st.
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