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:

Lewis Hamilton takes F1 pole in dramatic Russian GP qualifying

Russian pole Lewis Hamilton
Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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SOCHI, Russia — Lewis Hamilton took a step closer to equaling the Formula One win record Saturday by clinching pole position at the Russian Grand Prix, after narrowly avoiding early elimination when Sebastian Vettel crashed.

Hamilton charged to a track-record time of 1 minute, 31.304 seconds, beating the Red Bull of Max Verstappen by 0.563 for his fifth straight pole position. Hamilton can achieve his 91st career win in the race on Sunday, matching the record held by Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was beaten into third by Verstappen’s fast run at the end of the session and was .652 off Hamilton’s time.

The long run from the grid to the first significant turn means Bottas could yet threaten to overtake Hamilton at the start Sunday using the slipstream from his teammate’s car.

“It’s nice being on pole but here is probably the worst place to be on pole,” Hamilton said.

“This year you’re seeing that our cars are more draggy and there’s more tow this year than we’ve seen in other years. So I generally expect one of (Verstappen and Bottas) to come flying by at some point. I think I’m just going to focus on my race and run the fastest race I can.”

Bottas earned his first win at the 2017 race in Russia after starting third and overtaking the two Ferraris ahead of him at the start.

Verstappen and Bottas both start the race on medium tires, which could give them an edge in terms of pit strategy over Hamilton, who is on soft tires, which wear much faster.

“I’m just going to have to nurse those tires for as far as I can. These guys, if they get by, they’re going to be pulling away,” Hamilton said.

Verstappen said he was delighted to start second.

“I wasn’t expecting that and of course it’s great for us. If we can get a good start tomorrow you never know what can happen,” he said.

Vettel lost control of his car over the kerb on the inside of the 90-degree, right-hand turn four and spun into the wall, before the Ferrari bounced back onto the track. Teammate Charles Leclerc was following closely behind and narrowly missed the wrecked car, driving over its discarded front wing.

“Oh my God, that was very, very close,” Leclerc told his team over the radio. Leclerc qualified 11th and Vettel 15th as Ferrari failed to reach the top-10 shootout with either car for the third time in four races.

Vettel’s crash meant the red flag was waved while Hamilton was trying to set his first valid lap time to make the third session – after his first attempt was earlier ruled out for going off the track.

After the track was cleared and the session restarted, Hamilton had to rush his out-lap to make it over the line in time for another flying lap with just a second to spare.

“It was horrible,” Hamilton said. “Heart in the mouth.”

Hamilton was also asked to report to race stewards over another incident in which he went off the track in the first part of qualifying. No further action was taken. It was found Hamilton didn’t gain an advantage because the lap time wasn’t counted.

Hamilton is the runaway championship leader with a 55-point advantage over second-place Bottas and 80 over Verstappen. If he can earn four more pole positions in the last seven races, he would be the first driver to 100 in F1 history.

Earlier in the third and final practice Saturday morning, Hamilton set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 33.279 seconds that was 0.776 better than his Mercedes teammate Bottas, who had been quickest in the first two sessions.