Kanaan tops final practice on busy Indy 500 Carb Day

Tony Kanaan looks down pit lane following the final practice for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 on Miller Lite Carb Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo courtesy: IndyCar Series/Shawn Gritzmacher)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – All that’s left to do on track for the field of 33 now, is actually take the green flag for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

A pair of former 500 champions topped the speed chart for the last hour of practice on Carb Day Friday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  A.J. Foyt Enterprises’ Tony Kanaan clocked the fastest lap at 227.791 miles per hour with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon behind him at 225.684 MPH.  Marco Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais and Charlie Kimball rounded out the top five speeds.

“It doesn’t mean anything today, but it feels good,” said Kanaan.  “We do have a competitive car.  The biggest issue is what the weather’s going to do as far as heat.  The heat’s going to affect us a lot.  It looks like it’s going to be 90 degrees on Sunday, so it’s going to be very interesting.”

Ed Carpenter Racing’s Danica Patrick was limited to just 15 laps with an electrical problem.  She spent part of practice in the garages, but still managed to turn the eighth fastest lap of the day with a speed of 223.653 MPH as she prepares for her last 500.

“They got me back out,” Patrick said about her crew.  “At the end of the day, these are things that you are actually glad for.  Had it been Sunday, we’d be done.  I actually never mind getting bad luck or issues out of the way early on.  That way you know you’ve eliminated one thing at least.”

After 500 practice, it was the Indy Lights cars’ turn to take the track.  Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta beat teammate Patricio O’Ward to the finish line by 0.0281 of a second to win the Freedom 100.  The 18-year-old swept all three Indy Lights races at IMS this May.

Wrapping up the day on the track was the Pit Stop Challenge.  Dixon beat Schmidt Peterson Motorsport’s James Hinchcliffe in the best-of-three final round to take the $50,000 prize.

“This is stressful,”  said Dixon.  “It’s fun, but it’s stressful for the drivers.  I think it’s a great event, especially for all the fans to see all the effort that goes into changing tires and filling an 18 to 20 gallon tank up in six seconds.  It’s tough.”

The IndyCar Series allowed Hinchcliffe to participate in the pit stop competition after failing to qualify for this year’s 500.

“It’s been kind of therapeutic actually talking about it,”  Hinchcliffe told Indy Sports Central.  “It just helps you accept it and kind of move on.  We’re trying really hard to not look back at what happened, not focus on what went wrong.  Learn from our mistakes and keep our eyes forward.”

The driver of the No. 5 Honda walked the pit lane before the contest wearing a t-shirt that read, “Indy 500 or Nowhere”.

“Everybody was asking are you still going to go to the race,”  Hinchcliffe said.  “‘What are you going to do on Sunday?’  I just want everybody to know exactly where we’re going to be.  We’re going to be where we belong, which is right here watching the Indy 500, cheering on my teammates.”