Defending Indy 500 Champion Marcus Ericsson Sets Fastest Lap, Takuma Sato Continues Strong Performance for 7th on Practice Day 3
Today was the second chance for Indianapolis 500 competitors to go on track, despite it being the third scheduled day for practice as Day 1 was washed out due to rain.
The skies over Indianapolis were thankfully clear again on Wednesday, the third day, allowing the practice session from noon to run until 6:00 pm without a hitch on the 2.5-mile long oval track. Temperatures ranged from 19 to 24 degrees Celsius, making the conditions comfortable for the second day in a row, for both the drivers and fans alike.
The fastest lap was set by Marcus Ericsson (Chip Ganassi Racing), winner of last year's Indy 500. Ericsson took to the track a while after the start of practice, and on his 20th lap, he set the best lap of the day, 39.1974 seconds. With an average speed of 229.607 mph, set before completing his race setup, Ericsson was 0.0287 seconds faster than yesterday's fastest lap set by Takuma Sato (Chip Ganassi Racing), making him the fastest driver so far this year.
With qualifying starting the day after tomorrow, some teams ran solo laps today to check speeds and run four-straight hot laps to simulate qualifying, but Ericsson was still the fastest of the 34 cars at 224.414 mph, even on laps without the aid of drafting. Towards the end of practice, all four Chip Ganassi Racing ran Qualifying simulations, where Ericsson set the top speed of the day no-tow.
Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) was second fastest for the day, as he was on Day 2, and although the lead went to his teammate both days, the six-time IndyCar Champion was satisfied with his good performance for the second day in a row. Chip Ganassi Racing dominated the top two positions for the second consecutive day.
Third-fastest was Simon Pagenaud (Meyer Shank Racing) late in the session. The 2019 Indy 500 winner clocked in at 228.681 mph. No driver was able to move into the top three positions after that, meaning that on Day 3, the second day of practice, the top three positions went to three Honda drivers with Indy 500 winning experience. On Day 2, Honda took the top two spots, and on Day 3, swept up the top three.
Colton Herta (Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian), who was 6th yesterday, was 5th giving Honda four drivers in the top four positions.
Takuma Sato (Chip Ganassi Racing), yesterday's fastest driver, focused on setting up his car for the race and completed 98 laps, clocking 227.818 mph on lap 66, good for seventh fastest. Once Sato's car returned to the garage in the evening, the crew changed the car setup for qualifying. Sato entered the track with less than 10 minutes before the end of the session to simulate Qualifying before calling it a day.
Alex Palou (Chip Ganassi Racing), fourth fastest yesterday, was ninth fastest with 227.718 mph. Six Honda drivers were in the top ten today.