The checkered flag has fallen at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to end Fast Friday, and the qualifying draw goes down soon. Did we learn anything today? Honestly, who knows?
What we do know is that qualifying is going to be crazy.
Speeds. After finishing as the slowest car on Fast Friday last year, Andretti Autosport driver Conor Daly popped a lap of 231.704 mph to take fast time honors for the month, leading a group of 12 drivers who topped 230. Daly also found out during the post practice press conference that he will be the first driver out for qualifying, which can be crucial depending on track and ambient temperatures.
ECR feeling good. If you are looking for a pole favorite for Saturday, you may want to start with Ed Carpenter Racing. All three ECR drivers were in the Top 10 on the speed chart, with Spencer Pigot leading the way at 230.471, with the boss was sixth overall at 230.358 and Ed Jones 10th at 230.106. Jones posted the best no-tow speed of the day at 230.106 and Carpenter was second. Jones and Carpenter have been the most consistent names at the top of the speed charts all week, and they have been fast running all alone and in traffic.
Alonso. Fernando Alonso was on-track for 77 laps Friday, the most of any driver. Late in the day he posted the 24th-fastest speed of the day (229.328), but said he is concerned about qualifying, quickly noting he doesn’t think he is the only one in that situation. Unless McLaren finds him some speed, he may be fighting for his 500 life early Sunday morning.
So how about qualifying? Saturday’s forecast: intense. In terms of no-tow speeds, just about two mph separates the top 20 cars in the field, so any sort of a bobble in qualifying can lead to disastrous results. With temps expected to reach the mid-80s, if track temperatures rise it will bring the field even closer together. At least the first time through the draw, the drivers that get to go in the first hour of qualifying will have an advantage.
Juncos update. After Kyle Kaiser’s crash early in practice virtually destroyed the team’s primary car, some thought that Juncos was done for the month. But the team had a spare tub, which it brought over from its shop in Speedway, and gathered all of the parts they needed to get going on rebuilding a new car. Juncos’ brought in crew members from their Road to Indy programs, and now have an army of 20-25 people working on the car. Team principal Richard Juncos is confident they will be on track for practice tomorrow morning.