By: Spencer Neff
August 21, 2020
Today, the field of 33 embarked on the final practice for the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
While “Carb Day” may not be what it has become known and beloved for, the intensity leading up to the race is still there. Here are some of the headlines after Friday’s two-hour session.
O’Ward leads the way
Leading the way for the final practice was Arrow McLaren SP’s Patricio (Pato) O’Ward. After failing to qualify last year, the 2018 Indy Lights champion topped practice with a best lap of 225.355 miles per hour.
Of the 33 drivers, he was the only one to post a lap above 225. For Sunday, O’Ward will start 15th- where Rene Thomas (1914), George Robson (1946), Graham Hill (1966) and Juan Pablo Montoya (2015) have started from in their wins.
Following the Indianapolis 500 rookie were three former winners, Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi and Takuma Sato. Dixon and Sato start on the front row alongside pole sitter Marco Andretti. For Rossi, he starts ninth for the second straight year as he also looks for a second Indianapolis 500 win and to better his runner-up finish from 2019.
Despite Honda’s dominance throughout practice and qualifying, O’Ward’s teammate Oliver Askew bookended a Top Five effort for the Chevrolet-powered team. With O’Ward’s fast speed, it was the first time that a Chevrolet-powered car led a full-field session.
Despite vocalization over a potential drop in speeds due to the aeroscreen, today proved that may not be the case. Only four drivers from last year’s final practice posted lap times quicker than O’Ward’s leading speed. With all 33 cars on track and in race trim on Sunday, it will be worth observing the differences in speed compared to 2019.
The practice sessions have been relatively trouble-free for the field, with only Scott Dixon and Fernando Alonso encountering incidents during practice. With everything on the line in earnest during Sunday’s race, the intensity will pick up quickly but how much of the race they can get through cleanly early on will set the tone for the day.
Before last year, the eventual winner of the race finished among the top ten in final practice for three consecutive years.
Last year, Simon Pagenaud ended final practice in 22nd prior to winning from the pole two days later.
Finally, IndyCar1909 would like to send our well wishes to Alex Zanardi and family.
Following a hand bike accident in Italy on June 19, the two-time CART Champion has shown improvements as he recovers at an Italian hospital. Today, the NBCSN broadcast showed a pineapple sticker on Marco Andretti’s helmet, a nod to Zanardi’s nickname.
Header Image By INDYCAR/IMS