The importance of leading the opening day of Indianapolis 500 practice can be debated, but nonetheless, Ed Carpenter came away with bragging rights after topping the charts with a lap of 220.970 miles per hour in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.
“I felt like we were going to be strong coming in because we’ve learned a lot since we were here last year and the team’s worked really hard,” Carpenter said.
“You always have confidence when you win races so it was good to finish last year with a win [at Auto Club Speedway]. It did a lot for the team, giving the whole team motivation to keep pushing over the off-season. Hopefully, we can continue having a good month and be there when it counts.”
“…From where we were last May to where we were last September, we learned a whole lot about this new car, so you kind of apply the little we did right last year [at Indy] with a lot of the things that we learned over the course of the rest of last season and the off-season. You just try to come in with what you think will be best, whether that’s what you had here last year or if it’s something new altogether.”
Josef Newgarden was second-quickest in his backup No. 21T Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda at 220.920 miles per hour. After passing his Rookie Orientation Program, Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz managed to climb to P3 with a lap of 220.720 miles per hour. In fourth was Charlie Kimball in his No. 83T (220.633 mph), and Alex Tagliani rounded out the Top 5 speeds in his No. 98 (220.248 mph).
So much of Danica Patrick’s fame can be traced to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It’s where she became a household name 13 years ago when she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and emerged as a transcendent athlete.
It’s where everything started. This Sunday, it’s where everything will end, too.
In her last warmup before starting the final race of her career, Patrick had a bumpy final practice Friday on Carb Day. She was eighth fastest, but her Dallara-Chevrolet was in the garage most of the session because of an electrical problem in the engine. After returning during the final 10 minutes of the session, Patrick’s No. 13 seemed to be OK.
“At the end of the day, these are things you’re actually glad for, because if this had happened Sunday, we would have been done,” she said. “I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on. Overall, today felt good. We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”
Though she has had her share of success – along with a fourth in her debut, there was a third in 2009 and six top 10s in seven starts — Patrick has learned well how to handle frustration at the 2.5-mile track, too.
Fuel mileage might have kept her from winning her debut, a pit collision ruined 2008, and an unstable setup made 2010 a wild ride.
For a review of her up-and-down history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and her legacy in racing, watch the video essay above that ran during Friday’s NASCAR America Motorsports Special on NBCSN.