Photo from fox59.com
One driver was up to his old tricks again today at the Speedway, while another showed an aggressive streak. Neither of them were anywhere near the top of the speed charts.
Ragin’ Graham Rahal turned in the day’s fastest lap of 226 mph, which is a tick slower than Marco’s lap yesterday. He was followed by Tony “time to call it quits” Kanaan, Marco “practice warrior” Andretti, Ed Carpenter and Sage Karam in the top five tow speeds. This order was established early in the running and never did change, a first for happy hour this week.
Will “sour grapes” Power owned the quickest non-tow speed of 223.9, followed by Sebastien Bourdais and Charlie “pinball” Kimball. Generally things were less hectic on track with some 2700 laps turned compared to 3300 Wednesday, but there was some close racing nonetheless – at more than one point, a little too close.
Photo from Kevin Murphy on Twitter
The start of happy hour included some increased action with five or six cars running together, until the last twenty minutes when things heated up as more cars joined the fray. Helio cut it a bit close again in traffic, this time getting around Bourdais.
Then with around fifteen minutes remaining, JR Hildebrand drifted up high into the wall in turn 4, in an accident less damaging and costly but still reminiscent of his crash while leading during the final lap of the 2011 500. Fortunately, the month’s first on track incident only injured JR’s ego and car.
Green flag practice resumed with just over ten minutes remaining and twenty five cars appeared on track in a frenzied finish. Helio, again being aggressive, this time appeared to cut off Ryan Hunter-Reay as he passed him going into turn 3. The three time winner ran over a hundred laps on the day – the most of anyone – and was 8th quick overall. He probably didn’t win a lot of new fans among drivers, however.
Exciting racing in the final few minutes Thursday hopefully bodes well for the 500 itself. Fast Friday’s increased boost could raise speeds 2-3 mph, possibly hitting 230 mph, at least according to some. We shall see Friday.
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