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Will Power, Penske surge forward on day 2 of Indy 500 practice

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Team Penske surged to the front on Day 2 of practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 Presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Will Power put his No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet atop the speed charts with a best lap of 224.656 mph. He led teammate Helio Castroneves, in the No. 3 Shell Fuel Rewards Chevrolet, who had a best lap of224.287 mph.

Gabby Chaves impressed in the No. 88 Harding Racing Chevrolet by turning the third fastest time of the day, doing so in the final minutes. Ryan Hunter-Reay was the top Honda, his No. 28 DHL entry for Andretti Autosport in fourth, while Sage Karam’s No. 24 Mecum Auctions Chevrolet for Dreyer and Reinbold Racing placed fifth, putting four Chevrolets in the top five.

However, a look at the no-tow speeds delivers a more balanced picture on the day. Ed Carpenter, in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing, had the fastest no-tow lap of 222.842 mph. He was followed by Charlie Kimball’s No. 83 Tresiba Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing. JR Hildebrand, Will Power, and Scott Dixon completed the top five, with Juan Pablo Montoya, Sebastien Bourdais, Simon Pagenaud, Alexander Rossi, and Tony Kanaan completing the top ten. That put Honda and Chevrolet on an equal five drivers apiece in the top ten of the no-tow speeds.

Overall, speeds continue to be down from this time last year, again due to weather. Today’s temperatures peaked in the mid-to-high 80 degree bracket once more, with track temperatures around or above 125 degrees.

Ed Jones was the fastest rookie of the day, turning the 15th quickest lap at 222.251 mph. Zach Veach (22nd), Fernando Alonso (24th), and Jack Harvey (31st) rounded out the rookie class, with Harvey completing his Rookie Orientation program in the afternoon.

Alonso’s learning curve continued as he clocked in 117 laps, more than half of a race distance, and even engaged in some slip-streaming mini-battles.

Overall times for Day 2 of practice are below.

 

No-tow speeds for Day 2 are below.

 

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Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”