Indy 500 practice update: Carpenter hits 230; rain hits IMS once again (UPDATED)

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“Fast Friday” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway appears to have taken on two meanings this Friday, May 16:

It saw the fastest laps of the month.

It also has seen the fastest period of on-track activity from start-to-finish, with barely 20 minutes complete between the delayed start and the rain halting just before 3:30 p.m. Temperatures were only in the 50s, in-between the rain coming to IMS. Heavier rain and hail fell began just after 3:30.

In the few moments of green flag running, defending Indianapolis 500 polesitter Ed Carpenter became the first driver to set a 230-plus mph lap, at 230.522 mph in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet for his Ed Carpenter Racing team.

Per Chevrolet ace PR rep Judy Dominick, Carpenter’s best lap was tow-assisted, but his 229.1 and Helio Castroneves’ 229.8 laps did not have a tow.

But it wasn’t just 230 that was hit with the boosts turned up on the cars to help create more power.

The best lap speed of 227.166 set prior to today, from Castroneves on Thursday, was eclipsed by each of the top 17 drivers. The top 12 were all over 228 mph.

After Carpenter was Castroneves and three young Americans, Marco Andretti, JR Hildebrand and Josef Newgarden.

UPDATED, 4:20 p.m. ET: Due to the weather, track activity has concluded for the day.

Here are the times, then, from the final day of practice before qualifying:

source:

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”