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Wind interrupts play Wednesday at Indy, plus other notes

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INDIANAPOLIS – Some days during the month of May, Mother Nature is the leading driver on the charts.

Sure, there were 400 laps turned by 21 drivers (only 14 of whom posted representative speeds) in Wednesday’s practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

But it was a day where very little running overall occurred, as high and consistent winds were in the 15 to 25 mph range, with gusts more than that north of 30.

Scott Dixon led for most of the day with a best tow speed of 222.599 mph and no-tow of 220.794. That was before in the final hour Ed Carpenter edged ahead at 222.894 mph, done without a tow, in cooler conditions and an empty track.

Carpenter and teammate JR Hildebrand each posted more than 50 laps on the day.

Other notes from Wednesday:

Following complaints that their cars are too fast in practice for the Indy 500, Honda engineers take delivery of a fresh round of sandbags Wednesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Photo: Honda/LAT
  • So there was a bit of gamesmanship on Tuesday about whether Honda teams were “sandbagging” – not deploying their full speed and potential. Honda’s PR rep quickly arranged this photo then (see above as well), to humorously stir the pot.
  • Indianapolis Colts rookies were out to the Speedway today. Defending race champion Alexander Rossi promptly took a selfie with them.
  • Sage Karam and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing made a quick pit stop into the press conference room. Karam and DRR both want to be back full-time in the series, although Karam is thankful to have the 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 program keeping him busy full-time this year versus last year.
  • Had further interviews with Harding Racing team principal Mike Harding and team manager Larry Curry today, as they run with Gabby Chaves. More on that team’s solid start to come either later this week or early next week.
  • Several teams didn’t run at all on Wednesday. The Team Penske quintet didn’t and neither did the Dale Coyne Racing trio.
  • This was the first round of pit stop practice for Michael Shank Racing’s team on an IndyCar, and Shank said he was pleased with their progress.
  • Shank’s longtime friend AJ Allmendinger has been in attendance the last two days as well, supporting the team’s efforts. Allmendinger’s longtime friend, and Shank Acura NSX GT3 driver Katherine Legge then joined the supporting cast today as well. Both drivers last raced the ‘500 in 2013.
  • Others of note making the rounds in the paddock: Stefan Wilson, James Davison and Tristan Vautier.
  • Prep continues for the Buddy Lazier entry, as the team’s engine was now assembled with the chassis today. On a short program, Thursday or Friday will now be the day when we’d expect to see that car on track.
  • Couple sponsor notes. Made in Space has been formally confirmed as an associate sponsor with Pippa Mann’s No. 63 Honda. Per a release: “As part of the company’s partnership with Mann, Made In Space plans to print the Susan G. Komen® running ribbon logo on its 3D printer aboard the ISS during National Breast Cancer Awareness month in October 2017. The ribbon will then be auctioned off to raise funds on behalf of Komen’s national research and community outreach programs.”
  • Juncos Racing has formally confirmed Temple Fork Outfitters, Ricoh USA and Ray Morgan Company as associate sponsors and primary sponsors Oceanfront Recovery through Rising Star Racing and P1 Management of Spencer Pigot’s Chevrolet powered car.

McLaren almost back on schedule with 2018 F1 car after delay

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McLaren is almost back on schedule with its 2018 Formula 1 car development after losing two weeks due to a delay in deciding on its engine supplier, according to racing director Eric Boullier.

McLaren confirmed back in September it would be cutting ties with Honda at the end of the year after three difficult seasons, favoring a switch to Renault power units.

The decision was not taken lightly by McLaren, causing it to lose two weeks in the development of next year’s car, but Boullier confirmed in an interview with the official F1 website that the team is almost back on-track.

“Maybe we made the decision to change the engine manufacturer two weeks too late for our schedule, but these two weeks have almost been recovered,” Boullier said.

“Any big decisions are always difficult to take. The concept of McLaren winning with Honda was a dream for everybody, yes – it was a beautiful story.

“Today we have huge respect for them and we definitely don’t divorce with fights and screams and finger pointing. We are all very professional – and in the end it was a business decision, which they understand.

“There is a sadness that it didn’t work out like we wanted. McLaren-Honda in terms of brands was a good fit – in terms of results it didn’t work.

“That’s what it is in the end. Now we have to see that we get back to competitiveness – back to the top!”