Editor's Note: Full daily and combined results, as well as Friday's video highlights, are at the bottom of this file.
INDIANAPOLIS – Takuma Sato of Dale Coyne Racing continued his stranglehold on the fastest speed during practice for the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
Sato once again recorded the fastest single lap Friday around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 232.798 mph, extending his fast week after leading the speed charts in practices Tuesday and Thursday.
It was the fastest single lap effort of all by Sato, a two-time Indy 500 winner, in the three days of practice this week.
But also of near-equal importance, on a day when running four consistent laps became a perilous venture because of winds gusting at more than 30 mph, veteran Tony Kanaan posted the best simulated four-lap qualifying speed Friday in practice.
Kanaan’s four-lap average was 230.517 mph in his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, leading rookie David Malukas (230.287) for Dale Coyne Racing, Sage Karam (230.114) with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Pato O’Ward (230.111) with Arrow McLaren SP and Sato, who ran the fifth-best, four-lap run Friday at 229.680 mph..
Qualifying for the May 29 Indianapolis 500 begins Saturday, with the fastest 12 in the four-lap runs advancing to Sunday’s session to determine the first four rows of the race. The remaining cars from Saturday's session will be locked into the final seven rows.
Rain is predicted for Saturday, with earlier reports indicating it would rain all day starting in the morning. But forecasts were revised later Friday and now predict that rain would likely hold off until mid-to-late afternoon. As a precaution, IndyCar officials announced Friday that they will start qualifying one hour earlier than originally scheduled on Saturday, with the first car to go off at 11 am ET.
In addition, with the threat of rain, the two practice sessions scheduled for Saturday before qualifying have also been moved up, with Group 1 starting between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. ET, while Group 2 going off between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. ET.
Teams ran Friday with added turbo boost that gave them an extra 90 horsepower that they’ll have for qualifying, elevating practice speeds beyond the 230 mph mark for the first time in the week. Riding a tailwind down the back straight, Conor Daly had the fastest trap speed of 243.724 mph.
Jimmie Johnson, a rookie in the 500, continued his impressive week with a 229.094 mph four-lap average that was sixth-fastest. His day wasn’t without mishap, though, when he bumped the SAFER Barrier during an early run as his car skated high exiting Turn 2. It was the only contact with the wall by anyone all week. After his team repaired the damage, Johnson made his strong qualifying sim later in the day.
Drivers battled the wind throughout Friday, many aborting qualifying sims after being caught by a gust and others running only a few laps all day. Scott Dixon and Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing each ran only four laps Friday. Several drivers said they’d never encountered such difficult conditions on the oval.
“What made it the hard was from one end of the track to the other, the balance shift was really big,” O’Ward said. “I’m glad we got a solid four laps in just to see where the balance was going. ”
Below are Friday's practice results, followed by the overall combined best speeds through the first three days of practice for the Indy 500 (Wednesday's practice session was rained out). We also have a video of much of Friday's action, as well. Enjoy!