Hunter-Reay Tops Day 3 Indy 500 Practice

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Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner, topped the 2nd Indianapolis 500 practice session (Tuesday’s practice was rained out) with a best lap speed of 228.202 miles per hour. He led a top 2 Andretti Autosport sweep, with Carlos Munoz having the 2nd quickest speed on the day with a lap at 228.066 miles per hour. Other Andretti Autosport drivers Townsend Bell, Marco Andretti, day 1 practice leader, and Alexander Rossi were 7th, 9th, and 15th quickest during the session, respectively.

Overall, the day showed more great promise for the teams and drivers of the Honda-powered cars, as they took 6 of the top 10 spots on the speed charts, including the top 2. The fastest driver of a Honda-powered car (Ryan Hunter-Reay, 1st place, 228.202 miles per hour) was over 4-tenths of a mile per hour quicker of the fastest driver of a Chevrolet-powered car (Will Power, 3rd place, 226.733 miles per hour).

Team Penske, the team that has dominated this Verizon Indycar Series thus far this season and that won the Indianapolis 500 a year ago with Juan Pablo Montoya, had the 3rd fastest (Will Power), 12th fastest (championship leader Simon Pagenaud), 13th fastest (Juan Pablo Montoya), and 18th fastest (Helio Castroneves) drivers in the 2nd practice session in Chevrolet-powered race cars.

However, even after 2 practices, it is still too early to assume that the Honda cars will dominate this month like the Chevrolet cars did a year ago. Not only are we 11 days away from the race itself, and not only are we talking about practice, but we are talking about just the 2nd practice of an event whose outcome has to do with what happens over a 500 mile race on Sunday, May 29th, and nothing else. Today was simply yet another good indicator that Honda’s should be a lot more competitive this season that they were a year ago, when Chevrolet won the Indianapolis 500 and swept the top 4 spots after having 6 drivers qualify for the race in the top 7.

Today’s practice was also an indicator that the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 will be a very exciting race with lots of passing come race day. Late in the session, a group of roughly 5-6 cars, including those of Carlos Munoz, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, and Helio Castroneves, was running together in a line, separated by about a total of roughly 1 second, and passes were happening for each of the top positions pretty much once or twice every lap.

Also of note, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s rookie driver Spencer Pigot made heavy contact with the turn 2 SAFER barrier early on in today’s session. It was the first wall contact thus far this Indianapolis 500 practice season, and Pigot was checked and released from the infield medical center after the wreck and cleared to continue driving. His car, however, was not, so he ended up being 25th fastest on the day with a fast lap speed at 223.667 miles per hour.

Practice for the 100th running of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway resumes tomorrow from 12:00 PM ET to 6:00 PM ET. There will be practice on Friday, May 20th as well at this time. Qualifications for the race are on Saturday, May 21st, and Sunday, May 22nd.

-Asher Fair