Scott Dixon refused to relinquish his grip on the fastest car this month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as he led the final practice Friday for the 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Miller Lite Carb Day.
Six-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Dixon, who won the pole last Sunday at 231.685 mph, turned a top lap of 228.323 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda during the rain-delayed and rain-shortened session.
Practice started two hours, 37 minutes late due to persistent morning showers and ended 10 minutes short of its scheduled two hours when rain returned to the 2.5-mile oval. Cloudy skies and temperatures in the high 50s – about 25 degrees cooler than during Crown Royal Armed Forces Qualifying last weekend – increased grip and daring passes during the final practice before Race Day.
“Everybody felt like King Kong out there with the weather conditions,” Dixon said. “That may give you an indication of how the race will be. If it’s like this, it’s going to be mentally draining. There’s going to be a lot of action going on.”
Two Team Penske drivers starting in the back half of the field of 33 cars Sunday showed they have strong cars in traffic by posting the second- and third-fastest laps of the session.
2019 Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud, starting 26th, was second at 227.157 in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet. Two-time series champion Josef Newgarden, who is starting 21st, ended up third at 226.856 in the No. 2 Shell Fuel Rewards Team Penske Chevrolet.
Conor Daly was fourth overall at 226.399 in the No. 47 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet. Daly was scratching his head at some of the aggressive moves by selected drivers during the final practice.
“It was like we were sacrificing our vehicles for a prize today,” Daly said. “Did you win anything today? I didn’t.”
2020 pole sitter Marco Andretti rounded out the top five at 226.396 in the No. 98 Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana/Curb Honda. He will start 25th.
While Team Penske, winner of a record 18 Indianapolis 500’s, was shut out of the first five rows in qualifying, the final practice results showed all four of its cars could contend for victory Sunday after strong performances in heavy traffic.
2018 Indy 500 winner Will Power was sixth overall at 226.223 in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet after squeezing into the last row of the field in the Last Chance Qualifying. Rookie Scott McLaughlin, the top Penske qualifier in 17th, was seventh in practice at 226.192 in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet.
The green flag for the 105th edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. Sunday.