Sato quickest again as Kanaan logs best four-lap run on Fast Friday

Takuma Sato

Takuma Sato has set the very best pace on Fast Friday at the Indianapolis 500 while Tony Kanaan went quickest in terms of four-lap averages.

Sato had the two fastest laps of the day, a 232.789mph (374.638km/h) and then a 232.635mph (374.390km/h) next time through, but Dale Coyne Racing was strong all-round in the six-hour session.

IndyCar rookie David Malukas was on top on four-lap averages, twice over, before fellow Honda steerer Kanaan’s effort in the final minutes in the #1 Chip Ganassi Racing entry which produced a 230.517mph (370.981km/h) for the run.

Scott McLaughlin was ninth on the timesheet but promising on multi-lap runs, with three good laps in the #3 Team Penske Chevrolet before he was told to ease off due to traffic.

It was a particularly challenging day at the Brickyard due to wind which sometimes gusted at more than 60km/h, and the first hour also featured an unusual stoppage.

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Helio Castroneves (#06 Meyer Shank Racing Honda) was the only driver to have set a somewhat representative lap, a 228.229mph (367.299km/h) when Race Control lost power, leading to a Caution period of around 30 minutes.

In the final minutes of the first hour, Conor Daly (#20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet) set a 228.316mph (367.439mph), then Alex Palou (#10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) went top with a 230.749mph (371.355km/h) and 231.085mph (371.895km/h) on consecutive laps.

Alexander Rossi (#27 Andretti Autosport Honda) bettered that with a 231.883mph (373.180km/h) in the 65th minute, but bailed out of his next lap after a big understeer moment at Turn 2.

Around a quarter of an hour later, Pato O’Ward (#5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet) strung together a 231.798mph (373.043km/h), 230.878mph (371.562km/h), 229.916mph (370.014km/h), and 227.854mph (366.695km/h), for an average of 230.111mph (370.328km/h).

Not only did the first lap put the Mexican into second position, it was the first genuine four-lap run of the session, even if there was a big drop-off in speed by the time he had completed the last of those laps.

Jimmie Johnson (Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) brought about a second Caution when he glanced the wall in the 86th minute, although he was able to drive Car #48 back to the pits, before McLaughlin and Marcus Ericsson (#8 Ganassi Honda) made some notable runs.

McLaughlin went mid-228, low-230, and low-228 on the first of those runs, possibly distracted by the presence of debris in the form of a plastic or paper bag when he went through Turn 2 on the third lap.

The New Zealander’s next attempt at a run was a 231.206mph (372.090km/h), 230.244mph (370.542km/h), and 229.345mph (369.095km/h), before bailing out due to traffic.

In the meantime, Ericsson had broken the Turn 3 trap speed record having tipped it in at 242.496mph (390.259km/h) during a run which averaged 227.418mph (365.994km/h) across the four laps.

Daly, however, soon established a new Turn 3 benchmark of 243.724mph (392.236km/h).

While few were bothering to go out as the wind gusts got worse, Malukas (#18 DCR w/ HMD Motorsports Honda) moved into second as far as four-lap averages were concerned with a 228.325mph (367.453km/h), run late in the third hour.

His team-mate Sato (#51 DCR w/ RWR Honda) had topped each of the first two days of track activity while not bothering to go for a qualifying simulation, but showed he was no slouch in that regard with a 231.821mph (373.080km/h) in the first half of the fourth hour.

That put him second only to Rossi on single laps, while the two-time Indy 500 winner’s next two were a 231.401mph (372.404km/h) and a 229.051mph (368.622km/h), then a bail-out.

Little happened between Cautions for a track inspection, debris in the form of another bag, and then a squirrel on the track, and Team Penske even started packing up its pit stands with just over an hour to go.

Scott Dixon, on the other hand, went out for his first run of the day a few minutes later, nailed a 231.530mph (372.611km/h) lap in the #9 Ganassi Honda, and was back into the pits two laps later.

Then, almost four hours after his prang, Johnson was finally back onto the race track.

He would go second-quickest on four-lap averages with a run of 229.094mph (368.691km/h), before he was shuffled back to third due to the efforts of another first-timer at the 500.

Malukas had already threatened once to reset the four-lap benchmark before he reeled out a 231.159mph (372.014km/h), 230.497mph (370.949km/h), 230.144mph (370.381km/h), and 229.275mph (368.983km/h) for a 230.270mph (370.584km/h) average.

Dale Coyne Racing took a stranglehold on the session when Sato subsequently punched the fastest two laps of the day, a 232.789mph (374.638km/h) and then a 232.635mph (374.390km/h), although the next two laps were mid-228 and high-224.

In the final 15 minutes, Sage Karam (#24 Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet) set a 230.114mph (370.33km/h) four-lap average, before Malukas raised the bar even further to 230.287mph (370.611km/h).

However, with around five minutes to go, Kanaan went 231.392mph (372.389km/h), 230.419mph (370.823km/h), 230.668mph (371.224km/h), and 229.589mph (369.488km/h), for an average 230.517mph.

Once the session was done, the top 10 for fastest single laps was Sato, Rossi, O’Ward, Ericsson, Dixon, Felix Rosenqvist (#7 McLaren SP Chevrolet), Malukas, Kanaan, McLaughlin, and Josef Newgarden (#2 Penske Chevrolet), with Will Power (#12 Penske Chevrolet) 11th.

On four-lap averages, it was Kanaan, Malukas, Karam, O’Ward, Sato, Johnson, Simon Pagenaud (#60 MSR Honda), Castroneves, Ericsson, McLaughlin, Newgarden, and Rosenqvist.

Action resumes late tonight (AEST) with more practice, before Qualifying to set positions 13 to 33 kicks off at the slightly earlier time of 01:00 AEST on Sunday morning.

Both days of qualifying will be streamed live and ad-free on Stan Sport.

Results: Fast Friday

Pos Num Driver C/E/T Fastest lap Speed (mph) Split 1st/prev Lap
1 51 Takuma Sato D/H/F 0:38.6616 232.789   20 24
2 27 Alexander Rossi D/H/F 0:38.8127 231.883 0.1511/0.1511 4/6
3 5 Pato O’Ward D/C/F 0:38.8269 231.798 0.1653/0.0142 7/12
4 8 Marcus Ericsson D/H/F 0:38.8296 231.782 0.1680/0.0027 2/7
5 9 Scott Dixon D/H/F 0:38.8718 231.530 0.2102/0.0422 2/4
6 7 Felix Rosenqvist D/C/F 0:38.8781 231.493 0.2165/0.0063 9/13
7 18 David Malukas D/H/F 0:38.8913 231.414 0.2297/0.0132 12/39
8 1 Tony Kanaan D/H/F 0:38.8950 231.392 0.2334/0.0037 13/18
9 3 Scott McLaughlin D/C/F 0:38.9263 231.206 0.2647/0.0313 11/14
10 2 Josef Newgarden D/C/F 0:38.9307 231.180 0.2691/0.0044 2/7
11 12 Will Power D/C/F 0:38.9364 231.146 0.2748/0.0057 6/11
12 10 Alex Palou D/H/F 0:38.9467 231.085 0.2851/0.0103 3/4
13 24 Sage Karam D/C/F 0:38.9904 230.826 0.3288/0.0437 11/14
14 20 Conor Daly D/C/F 0:39.0304 230.589 0.3688/0.0400 26/37
15 28 Romain Grosjean D/H/F 0:39.0846 230.270 0.4230/0.0542 9/10
16 77 Callum Ilott D/C/F 0:39.1054 230.147 0.4438/0.0208 10/13
17 48 Jimmie Johnson D/H/F 0:39.1425 229.929 0.4809/0.0371 8/13
18 98 Marco Andretti D/H/F 0:39.1560 229.850 0.4944/0.0135 4/7
19 06 Helio Castroneves D/H/F 0:39.1854 229.677 0.5238/0.0294 14/23
20 21 Rinus VeeKay D/C/F 0:39.1926 229.635 0.5310/0.0072 2/16
21 60 Simon Pagenaud D/H/F 0:39.2698 229.184 0.6082/0.0772 7/10
22 33 Ed Carpenter D/C/F 0:39.4160 228.334 0.7544/0.1462 12/14
23 4 Dalton Kellett D/C/F 0:39.6201 227.157 0.9585/0.2041 19/22
24 15 Graham Rahal D/H/F 0:39.6792 226.819 1.0176/0.0591 11/12
25 29 Devlin DeFrancesco D/H/F 0:39.7006 226.697 1.0390/0.0214 18/18
26 23 Santino Ferrucci D/C/F 0:39.7129 226.627 1.0513/0.0123 30/32
27 25 Stefan Wilson D/C/F 0:39.7820 226.233 1.1204/0.0691 10/11
28 11 JR Hildebrand D/C/F 0:39.7881 226.198 1.1265/0.0061 5/17
29 14 Kyle Kirkwood D/C/F 0:39.8117 226.064 1.1501/0.0236 15/17
30 30 Christian Lundgaard D/H/F 0:39.8437 225.883 1.1821/0.0320 6/7
31 45 Jack Harvey D/H/F 0:40.1215 224.319 1.4599/0.2778 8/8
32 6 Juan Pablo Montoya D/C/F 0:40.2210 223.764 1.5594/0.0995 2/6
33 26 Colton Herta D/H/F 0:40.7904 220.640 2.1288/0.5694 2/7

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