The Indianapolis 500, with the longest history and largest race-day spectator numbers in the world, is just around the corner this weekend.
With the exception of the first day of Indy 500 practice last Tuesday, the weather has been beautiful all week, and blue skies reigned today as well. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was filled with fans, eager to catch a glimpse of Indy cars thundering down the straights at 230 mph for their final practice session.
“Carburetion Day,” the final practice session, was established to allow teams to adjust their carburetors in the lead up to the race. It is now known simply as “Carb Day.” The Friday event has become a popular day for local fans, as it not only allows the 33 entrants to make final adjustments and practice their pit stops, but is also hosts a pit stop contest and a music concerts.
The two-hour session kicked off at 11:00 am, under slightly cool conditions of 18°C, rising to 23°C by the end of the session. Although the forecast is for hotter conditions on race day, today proved to be ideal for checking the cars for the 200-lap race.
Sixteen Honda-powered cars will compete in this year's Indy 500. In today’s session, Takuma Sato (Chip Ganassi Racing) was fastest on the 2.5-mile oval track, with an average speed of 227.855 mph. Sato ran 86 laps, which not only allowed the team to make final adjustments to the car, but also to gather more data in preparation for the race. Sato's fastest lap of the day demonstrated his strong desire for a third Indy 500 win, following his victories in 2017 and 2020. Reacting to the cheering crowd as he climbed out of his car, Sato looked satisfied with his progress.
Sato's teammate, 2008 Indy 500 winner and six-time series champion Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing), was second fastest with a personal best of 227.285 mph. Alex Parow (Chip Ganassi Racing), the 2021 IndyCar Champion and this year's Indy 500 pole-sitter, was fourth fastest with 226.945 mph, showing that Chip Ganassi Racing drivers performed not only well in qualifying, but also in the final practice. Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti Autosport), fresh off his first career win in Round 3 this year, was fifth fastest with 226.872 mph. Kirkwood's teammates Colton Harta (Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian) and Romain Grosjean (Andretti Autosport) finished the session with the seventh and eighth fastest times.
Following the drivers’ meeting tomorrow, the 33 contestants will participate in a grand parade in central Indianapolis. On Sunday, the Indy 500 will be held, now a tradition heralding the arrival of summer in the Midwest.