Pato O’Ward leads final practice on Carb Day for the Indy 500


Pato O’Ward became the first Chevrolet driver atop the speed chart at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, pacing Friday’s final Carb Day practice for the 104th Indy 500.

O’Ward’s No. 5 Dallara-Chevrolet recorded a 225.355 mph lap to lead the two-hour session, which was an hour longer than the traditional final Carb Day warmup. Scott Dixon’s No. 9 Dallara-Honda was second at 224.646 mph, followed by Alexander Rossi (224.599) and Takuma Sato (224.580).

Oliver Askew, O’Ward’s Arrow McLaren SP teammate, was next at 224.128, giving Chevrolet two cars in the top five after Hondas had led the previous six practice sessions on the 2.5-mile oval and took eight of the top nine spots in qualifying.

FINAL SPEEDS: Click here for Carb Day practice results

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“It’s just been really important to try to get the best car we can under us for race day,” said O’Ward, who will start 15th in his Indy 500 debut. “Traffic running is going to be key, and it’s my first 500, so it’s important to have a car that’s able to follow closely and get runs on people and ultimately move forward. Today was a good step forward. We’ll have to go with our gut and hope this works like it did today on race day Sunday.”

Rossi, the 2016 Indy 500 winner who finished second last year to Simon Pagenaud after trading the lead several times in the last 15 laps, was the leading driver Friday for Andretti Autosport, which has had four of its six cars starting in the top nine and has been the team to beat so far.

“This whole team has really showed up this week,” Rossi told NBCSN pit reporter Marty Snider near the end of practice. “I’m really proud of everyone, Honda’s done a phenomenal job. Everything is trending in the right direction. We struggled a lot in the beginning week to find a balance in traffic we were happy with, but right now I think we’ve got it, and we’ll just rub on it and pray all the stars align on Sunday.

“Ultimately, I think it’ll come down to the last 10 laps and be a dogfight between a couple of drivers, and we just hope to be one of them.”

There were no incidents in the practice, and drivers seemed stable in traffic, which defending NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden attributed to improved grip from cooler track temperatures.

“I feel cautiously optimistic we have a car to fight with and challenge the frontrunners,” the Team Penske driver, who was seven fastest in the final practice after qualifying 13th, told NBCSN’s Kelli Stavast. “I think we’ve got a good shot. It’d be amazing to win at this place.

“You can’t force this place. But to win one for ‘The Captain’ (track owner Roger Penske, who also owns Newgarden’s No. 1 Dallara-Chevrolet), especially in these trying circumstances, we’re going to do our best to put on a great show for everyone. I still think it’s going to be a magical Indy 500. It’s obviously going to be different without fans, but to win it for Roger in this place, this year, would be really special.”

Texas starting lineup: Felix Rosenqvist back on pole; Scott Dixon qualifies second


FORT WORTH, Texas — For the second consecutive year, Felix Rosenqvist will lead the NTT IndyCar Series starting lineup to the green flag at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Arrow McLaren driver is hoping the third time will be the charm at the 1.5-mile oval, where he has run extremely well but has only a career-best 12th in five starts.

“We’ve always been good here, but this is a whole different confidence level compared to last year,” Rosenqvist told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “Let’s try to wrap it up (Sunday).”

In 2020, Rosenqvist was competing for a podium when he crashed with 10 laps remaining at Texas.

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Click here for speeds from Saturday’s time trials

INDYCAR AT TEXASSchedule, start times, how to watch on NBC, Peacock

Last year, he started first on an oval for the first time in his career but finished 21st because of a broken halfshaft.

“It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks, and naturally, I’ve always been OK here,” Rosenqvist said. “It was the first oval that made sense to me. Every year I’m building on that. But looking at the results, they don’t represent the speed I normally have.

“I don’t want to jinx anything, but I hope tomorrow is going to go a bit better and some luck our way would be nice. It’s been feeling super good. Arrow McLaren has been mega every session, so just keep it rolling.”

Arrow McLaren qualified all three of its Chevrolets in the top five, building on a second for Pato O’Ward and fourth for Alexander Rossi in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The March 5 season opener was a disappointing start for Rosenqvist who was squeezed into the wall by Scott Dixon on the first lap.

Dixon, a five-time winner at Texas, will start second Sunday, followed by Rossi and Josef Newgarden. O’Ward will start fifth alongside Takuma Sato, who will start on the outside of the third row in his Chip Ganassi Racing debut.

During nearly four hours of practice and qualifying (including a special high-line session), Saturday’s lone incident involved Conor Daly.

The Ed Carpenter Racing driver spun three times but stayed off the wall and in the frontstretch grass. Aside from a front wing change and new tires, there was no damage to his No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet during the incident midway through the 30-minute session in which drivers were limited to the high line.

“I hadn’t really had a moment before, but it snapped really aggressively,” Daly told NBC Sports after final practice. “Not ideal, but I do know my way around correcting a spin it seems like. I drove NASCAR last weekend and that seemed to help a little bit. I drove in the dirt a lot in USAC Midgets and seemed to be able to save something but not ideal or what we wanted to have happen.”

Daly will start 25th of 28 cars alongside teammate Rinus VeeKay in Row 13. Carpenter qualified 18th.

“Our three of our cars were clearly looking for something. Mechanical grip is for sure what we need. Qualifying we actually expected to be a lot better, but we found an issue there. We’ll see what happens. This race can change a lot. I’m confident in the team to hopefully figure some things out for tomorrow.”

Here’s the IndyCar starting lineup for Sunday’s PPG 375 at Texas Motor Speedway (qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine and speed):


1. (6) Felix Rosenqvist, Dallara-Chevy, 220.264 mph
2. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 219.972


3. (7) Alexander Rossi, Dallara-Chevy, 219.960
4. (2) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy, 219.801


5. (5) Pato O’Ward, Dallara-Chevy, 219.619
6. (11) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 219.508


7. (10) Alex Palou, Dallara-Honda, 219.480
8. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 219.355


9. (18) David Malukas, Dallara-Honda, 219.256
10. (26) Colton Herta, Dallara-Honda, 219.184


11. (28) Romain Grosjean, Dallara-Honda, 219.165
12. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Dallara-Honda, 219.146

ROW 7 

13. (55) Benjamin Pedersen, Dallara-Chevy, 219.100
14. (14) Santino Ferrucci, Dallara-Chevy, 218.892


15. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Dallara-Chevy, 218.765
16. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Dallara-Honda, 218.698


17. (77) Callum Ilott, Dallara-Chevy, 218.427
18. (33) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 218.375

ROW 10

19. (78) Agustin Canapino, Dallara-Chevy, 218.367
20. (27) Kyle Kirkwood, Dallara-Honda, 218.227

ROW 11

21. (06) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 218.196
22. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 218.103

ROW 12

23. (51) Sting Ray Robb, Dallara-Honda, 217.676
24. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 217.611

ROW 13

25. (20) Conor Daly, Dallara-Chevy, 217.457
26. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Dallara-Chevy, 216.880

ROW 14

27. (45) Christian Lundgaard, Dallara-Honda, 216.210
28. (30) Jack Harvey, Dallara-Honda, 216.103