Once Mother Nature and the warm up lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway cooperated, 32 drivers completed over 3700 laps in a two day test in preparations for the 106th Indy 500. With just six scheduled practice days in May, the two day test this week was of utmost importance to get a jump start in preparations for The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Both days were delayed by unpredictable Indiana weather, but when the track was green it was as busy as any practice day in May. On Wednesday, Helio Castroneves and Will Power spun on the warmup lane and back onto the track. Powers spun collected Colton Herta and halted to session for the day. Overnight, the team at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway along with Firestone and IndyCar worked to get the warmup lane fixed for day 2. After the spin, Power told me in the garage “It scared the s*** out of me, it was like I was on water.” Day 2 saw plenty of action when the sun came out, with speeds well into the 229 mph range. My bold prediction for May is the pole speed average of 232.5 mph plus. After yesterday, I think that is certainly more than doable.
Let’s first give kudos to everyone at IMS. From a fan perspective, the mounds were packed and a concession stand was opened serving fan favorites like tenderloins, track dogs and MIller Lite. Doug Boles and staff worked overnight getting the warmup lanes fixed. Day two saw no problems in safety for the 32 drivers. The IMS staff was delightful in hosting the media as usual.
Getting to 33 looks like it will happen over the next week or so. Charlie Kimball and Stefan Wilson are the two drivers rumored to possibly land the 33rd entry to the Indy 500. Rumors of A.J. Foyt fielding the 33rd entry would point to Kimball getting the nod. Wilson has funding from Cusick Motorsports but hasn’t been able to strike a deal with a team that can field a chassis.
Let’s look at all 32 drivers after the two day test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
1. JOSEF NEWGARDEN: 229.519 mph.
Newgarden had the fastest time of the two day session. He will come into the Month of May as one of the favorites to win the Indy 500. He is the hottest driver in the sport and will contend all month long at IMS.
2. TAKUMA SATO: 229.427 mph.
The two time champ can never be counted out at Indy. The Dale Coyne Racing entries have been fast at Indy over the last several years and Sato proved that again Thursday with a late lap to land him P2. Something tells me Sato will be a force on race day.
3. TONY KANAAN: 228.767 mph.
This shouldn’t be the final 500 for the 2013 champ. He spoke openly on Wednesday about coming back in 2023 for his 25th year in IndyCar racing. Ganassi had a hell of a showing on Thursday and Kanaan posting the 3rd best time of the day was most impressive.
4. SCOTT DIXON: 228.689 mph.
It’s amazing to think Chip Ganassi will enter next month's Indy 500 without having won the race in a decade. Dixon is always a contender and can add to his legacy with a second Indy 500 win.
5. SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: 228.397 mph.
McLaughlin will have to finish well at the 500 if he wants to be a serious threat to the championship. This marks his second Indy 500 attempt and with a win under his belt the yellow Pennzoil Chevy should be a threat all month.
6. MARCO ANDRETTI: 228.185 mph.
I am sure it was a great feeling to be back on track for Marco, and an even better feeling to be Top 10 on the speed charts.
7. ALEX PALOU: 228.058 mph.
Last year's Indy 500 runner up was all smiles after his two day test session. The 2nd place finish has been on his mind for a year and will be determined to be one spot higher at the conclusion of the 500.
8. JIMMIE JOHNSON: 227.900 mph.
Johnson continues to learn and gain momentum at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The #48 car was smooth and fast in traffic as the excitement level for the 7 time NASCAR champ continues to rise.
9. FELIX ROSENQVIST: 227.812 mph.
Rosenqvist has proven he can be fast for qualifying, but keeping that speed and momentum on race day has been a sore spot for the #7 Arrow McLaren team in 2022.
10. MARCUS ERICSSON: 227.785 mph.
Chip Ganassi will smile all the way into the month of May with all five cars finishing inside the Top 10 on the speed charts. Mr. Consistency Marcus Ericsson will look for his first Top 10 finish in the Indy 500.
11. SIMON PAGENAUD: 227.575 mph.
Pagenaud is refreshed and ready to get back to the top step of the podium. Pagenaud is my early pick to win the Indy 500 next month in his first attempt with Meyer Shank Racing.
12. SANTINO FERRUCCI: 227.489 mph.
Ferrucci quickly got up to speed in his first seat time with Dreyer and Reinbold Racing. After an impressive fill-in roll at Texas, Ferrucci will look for a fourth consecutive Top 7 run at the Indy 500 with his fourth different team. He was 4th fastest on Wednesday.
13. SAGE KARAM: 227.425 mph.
Karam returns to the speedway as the veteran driver for Dreyer and Reinbold Racing. This team looks primed for their best month of May in quite some time with two hard chargers behind the wheel.
14. WILL POWER: 227.204 mph.
I think Power is still trying to figure out what went wrong with his spin on Wednesday. Ironically enough in true Will Power fashion, he was the first driver out on Thursday to wash that memory away. Power is chomping at the bits to put last year's dismal Indy 500 in the rearview mirror and keep pace in the points championship.
15. RINUS VEEKAY: 227.194 mph.
Ed Carpenter Racing and VeeKay will be strong at both pole day and race day in 2022. VeeKay hasn’t finished outside of the Top 10 this season and could really make some noise in the points standings in May.
16. ROMAIN GROSJEAN: 227.018 mph.
The Indy 500 rookie ran 145 laps on Thursday, the third most of any driver on the day. Learning and working the cars tools in the draft were things Grosjean zeroed in on during the two day test.
17. CALLUM ILOTT: 226.596 mph.
Ilott was all smiles as he climbed out of his Juncos-Hollinger Racing Chevy on Thursday. The rookie is getting used to the car in traffic and did a fine job in testing for not having a teammate.
18. CONOR DALY: 226.516 mph.
Daly posted the second fastest time on Wednesday for Ed Carpenter Racing. The three car team looks to build on great showings up front in 2021.
19. DEVLIN DEFRANCESCO: 226.266 mph.
DeFrancesco had a few close calls over two days, almost brushing the wall and again on pit road. The kid loves to push the limit and reminds me of Santino Ferrucci just a few years ago.
20. JACK HARVEY: 226.224 mph.
It was an overall disappointing day for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing on Thursday. Harvey comes into the month of May needing two top 10s at the very least. They key to a good Indy 500 for Harvey will come in qualifying. His best start in the race is 20th.
21. PATO O’WARD: 226.199 mph.
Honestly, the saga of Arrow McLaren continues. O’Ward hasn’t been a driver to find himself on top of the speed charts during practice at Indy and has finished 4th and 6th at the Indy 500. No need to panic for O’Ward fans.
22. DAVID MALUKAS: 226.114 mph.
Again, for any rookie, keeping it clean in testing and getting comfortable in the movements the car will make in turbulence is key. As mentioned, I think Sato and Malukas will have hella speed next month.
23. ALEXANDER ROSSI: 226.048 mph.
After a spin to start Thursday, the 2016 winner spent a majority of Thursday running in traffic with his teammates. Rossi enters May as one of the most interesting story lines in IndyCar.
24. GRAHAM RAHAL: 225.845 mph.
Rahal has all the confidence in the world in his driving ability, telling myself and other members of the media he is a top 3 driver in the sport. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team seems to be way off of the pace they showed in 2020.
25. JR HILDEBRAND: 225.640 mph.
It didn’t show on the charts yesterday, but the guy is Mr. Smooth. He’s only finished outside of the top 20 one time at the Indy 500 and keeps the car clean.
26. KYLE KIRKWOOD: 225.579 mph.
Kirkwood, like all rookies, did what he needed to do, keep it clean, give good feedback to your teammates and get as comfortable as possible. Kirkwood has the potential to have a breakout month of May.
27. DALTON KELLETT: 224.911 mph.
Kellett only logged 65 laps on Thursday. He will look to improve on consistency and finding speed when opening practice starts for the Indy 500.
28. COLTON HERTA: 224.786 mph.
Herta made contact with the wall on Wednesday evening avoiding a spinning Will Power. 28th on the charts isn’t ideal, but it is a test day and better days are to come at the speedway for Herta.
29. CHRISTIAN LUNDGAARD: 224.185 mph.
This will be Lundgaard’s biggest learning curve yet in IndyCar. Thursday was the fastest he has ever driven a race car and needs to make the most of every practice day on the oval next month.
30. ED CARPENTER: 224.161 mph.
I’ll buy everyone a beer who retweets this article if Carpenter finds himself 30th or worse on a speed chart in the month of May. Carpenter and the rest of the Ed Carpenter Racing stable will have plenty of speed in May, he’s just sandbagging.
31. JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: 223.980 mph.
It was nice to catch up with JPM on Wednesday before he climbed into his crisp white Arrow McLaren SP #6. He’s lost 14 pounds in the offseason and will gradually get all the feelings back of running 235+ around the speedway.
32. HELIO CASTRONEVES: No speed.
Helio sat out Thursday's practice after his crash on Wednesday. Honestly, it was heartbreaking to see his reaction knowing he wadded up the car he won in.
At the end of all this, if you had a great test day, awesome, build that confidence, and if you didn’t, well no Borg Warner trophies have ever been won in April. It was great to see so many fans at the track enjoying the sites and sounds we all long to hear come May.
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