Pagenaud leads on another day at IMS where an incident steals headlines


Speeds dipped slightly from Wednesday on Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with Simon Pagenaud leading the way in at 228.793 mph in his No. 22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet. Pagenaud also had the day’s fastest no-tow speed of 227.628 mph.

The remainder of the top five overall was Wednesday leader Carlos Munoz, then three Chip Ganassi Racing entries driven by Sage Karam, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan.

In the no-tow department, Pagenaud led Dixon, Will Power, Kanaan and Juan Pablo Montoya – all between 227 and 226 mph.

However the story emerging at the end of the day was Josef Newgarden’s accident in the final hour, which while similar to Helio Castroneves’ on Wednesday was not identical.

Pagenaud was asked in the post-practice press conference whether he thought the cars were still safe, to which he immediately said yes.

“These cars are safe. IndyCar is trying to make it safer,” Pagenaud said. “We’re going past 230 mph on corner entry. If you have a crash it’s gonna be a big crash.

“It’s still early days. I can’t comment for Josef’s crash, or for Helio’s crash either. It’s too difficult for me to say. The car seems plenty safe because both drivers were OK.”

He did have a one-liner about his Team Penske teammate, though.

“I knew Helio was OK because the first thing he did (after the crash), he adjusted his hair in his suit.”

Speeds from Thursday are below. Note James Hinchcliffe sampled Conor Daly’s No. 43 Smithfield Foods Honda for a bit, Tristan Vautier did his first laps in the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, as did 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Lazier in the No. 91 Wynn Lazier Racing Partners Chevrolet.

Simona de Silvestro returned to the track in her No. 29 TE Connectivity Honda while Pippa Mann was the only driver not to take part in Thursday’s running, as her Coyne crew repaired her No. 63 Susan G. Komen Honda.


Ryan Hunter-Reay hired as replacement for Conor Daly at Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay was named to replace Conor Daly in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet, starting in the NTT IndyCar Series event next week at Road America.

Hunter-Reay is the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner. He finished 11th for Dreyer & Reinbold last month in the 107th Indy 500, his first start since the 2021 season finale. He drove full time for Andretti Autosport from 2010-21.

“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader. I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team,” team owner Ed Carpenter said in a team release. “We have worked together in the past as teammates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test. I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”

Hunter-Reay has 18 IndyCar victories, most recently in 2018. He also is a winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, having been a part of winning entries in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2018 Petit Le Mans. Last year, he was an endurance driver for Cadillac Racing while being on standby for Chip Ganassi Racing.

He replaces Daly, whose departure was announced a day earlier in what the driver and team said was a mutual decision.

“I was surprised when I got the call from Ed,” Hunter-Reay said in a team release. “He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realize its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in BITNILE.COM.

“This will certainly be a challenge for me as well. It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world. Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar Series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber. However, I remain very confident in both my driving and technical abilities and believe by working with the talented people at ECR and Team Chevy, while representing BITNILE.COM, we will make progress. I am going to do everything I can do to help the team achieve its long-term objectives.”

Said Milton “Todd” Ault, the chairman of sponsor “It is great for to be aligned with an Indy 500 Winner and an NTT IndyCar Series champion. I have followed Ryan’s career for years and I am confident he will challenge the entire ECR team to perform at higher levels. I wish everyone luck at Road America.”