Scott Dixon rallies from spin; Marco Andretti paces Indy 500 practice

Indy 500 practice Dixon
Chris Owens/IndyCar

INDIANAPOLIS — Scott Dixon spun but still soared to near the top of the speed chart in Indy 500 practice Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, who had qualified second to pole-sitter Marco Andretti two hours earlier, lost control of his No. 9 Dallara-Honda about 40 minutes into the midafternoon session.

Dixon was OK after making light contact with the left front and left rear with his No. 9 Dallara-Honda, which his Chip Ganassi Racing team quickly repaired.

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SUNDAY AFTERNOON PRACTICE: Click here for the speed chart from IMS

An hour and 2 minutes later, Dixon was back on the 2.5-mile oval and posted the third-fastest lap (223.686 mph) in the closing minutes of the session.

Andretti led the practice — and the speed charts for the fourth time in the past five days — with a 224.122 mph lap, followed by Helio Castroneves (224.067).

“I was just getting up to speed and kind of turned in and got a little wider than normal and felt fine, just kept turning it,” Dixon said after the incident. “And there’s actually a big bump there, and it hit the bump. And as soon as it hit the bump, the front wheels came off, and the rear just came around. I’m very lucky.

“It just barely brushed the walls. It actually looks like the car’s fine. Just the front and rear wing, so pretty lucky in that situation.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay (223.327) was fourth, followed by Santino Ferrucci (223.127).

Conor Daly, Marcus Ericsson, Pato O’Ward, Ed Carpenter and Fernando Alonso rounded out the top 10 as teams switched back to focusing on race setups after receiving an extra turbo boost for qualifying over the past three days.

Other notables: Fernando Alonso (11th); Alexander Rossi (12th); Will Power (13th); Josef Newgarden (20th); Colton Herta (21st); Tony Kanaan (22nd); Simon Pagenaud (23rd); Takuma Sato (26th); Graham Rahal (30th).

Click here for the speeds from Sunday afternoon’s practice.

The field of the 104th Indy 500 will return to the track Friday at IMS for a two-hour practice on Carb Day (11 a.m. ET, NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold) that will be the last warmup for the Aug. 23 race (1 p.m. ET, NBC).

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds