Chaves, Coyne top Thursday practice for Indy 500

Photo: IndyCar

INDIANAPOLIS –  It’s not every day or year you write that a Dale Coyne Racing-entered driver has beat a Team Penske or Chip Ganassi Racing driver to the top of the timesheets in Indianapolis 500 practice.

Thursday, May 19, 2016, however, is one of those rare exceptions when you do. And for the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, a Coyne driver has beat a Penske or Ganassi driver to the best time in practice.

Gabby Chaves, in only his sixth day of official running with Coyne (three at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and three practice days this month), was best of the day at 227.961 mph in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda.

“It’s only practice, but it feels good,” said the 22-year-old talented Colombian American, who was last year’s race and series rookie of the year.

Chaves led a pair of Andretti Autosport drivers in NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell and Carlos Munoz, then his own teammate Conor Daly before the top Chevrolet driver, Charlie Kimball, clocked in fifth in the No. 42 Tresiba car at 227.477 mph.

With Pippa Mann in 10th, Coyne had three cars in the top 10 – same as Andretti Autosport – while Ganassi and Penske had two cars apiece.

Race runs and full-tank runs dominated the proceedings, and it was still tough to gauge whether the Chevrolet runners have shown their full hand.

The no-tow speeds were a bit quicker than they have been this week, at 225 mph and change. Will Power led those charts in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet at 225.381 mph; Graham Rahal was second at 225.321.

Honda’s engine was again a talking point. Ryan Hunter-Reay sustained the second failure of the month (Mikhail Aleshin) heading into Turn 3 with a couple hours left in the session in the No. 28 DHL Honda. He’ll switch to a new one that he’ll use for the race.

Meanwhile the lump in the back of Spencer Pigot’s built up new tub, the No. 16 RLL/Mi-Jack/Manitowoc Honda, got an installation lap in the final 15 minutes of the six-hour practice. Pigot didn’t complete a standard time but he did make it out to check.

Times are below. For Fast Friday, the boost increases from 130 kPa to 140 kPa and combined with teams beginning to trim out for qualifying, speeds should significantly increase well north of 230 mph.

Speeds are below.

Full Speeds


No-Tow Speeds


Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.



Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III