By: Spencer Neff
May 19, 2021
Following an eventful opening day of practice on Tuesday, the 35 entrants for this year’s 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge again took to the track for a second day of practice.
As teams continued to dial in their race setups, here’s a look at some of the headlines from Wednesday at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Scott Dixon tops Practice 3
When the six hours of allotted on-track time concluded, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon sat atop the speed charts.
The 2008 Indianapolis 500 race winner and three-time pole sitter (08,15 and 17) notched a fastest lap of 226.829 miles per hour (39.6774), .0801 of a second ahead of Ed Carpenter Racing’s Conor Daly, the . Daly’s teammate and Car Owner Ed Carpenter was the only other driver to eclipse 226 mph.
Dixon’s CGR teammates Marcus Ericsson and Tony Kansan bookended the Top 5 for Honda-powered entries.
On the no-tow speed charts, 2016 race winner Alexander turned a best lap of 221.114 mph, with 2019 pole and race winner Simon Pagenaud best among the Chevrolet entrants in that category. No-tow times will be worth watching as the week closes and qualifying preparations near.
Although there were brief stoppages for a track inspection and light rain in the area, no drivers suffered any mechanical failures and there were no incidents for a second consecutive day.
RC Enerson completes Rookie Orientation Program
This morning, an extra hour was added on as New entrant Top Gun Racing and their rookie driver, RC Enerson needed to complete his Rookie Orientation Program.
After completing nine of 15 laps in the 210-215 mph range needed for Phase 2, the No. 75 Chevrolet entry ran into mechanical issue and was unable to complete his required on-track time.
Today, Enerson was able to do so, just after noon local time, the New Port Richey, Florida native finished Phase 3 of the ROP (15 laps at 215+ mph).
During the session, he ran a best lap of 216.056 mph (41.6559 seconds).
Following the session, Top Gun Racing went to work on adjustments for their car and did not return to the track for the remainder of the day. TGR did tweet out later they will return to the track for Thursday’s session.
Danica Patrick named Pace Car Driver
On Wednesday afternoon, IndyCar race winner and current NBC Sports analyst Danica Patrick was announced as the driver of the pace car for next Sunday’s 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
Patrick will be at the track as a television analyst with NBC for the third consecutive year. In 2018, she retired following the Indianapolis 500, where she started seventh but finished 30th after a Lap 68 crash.
“I am very honored to drive the Corvette Stingray Pace Car this year at the Indy 500,” Patrick said.
“It is even more special because of the past year we have all endured, and it will be so nice to see fans back in the stands. I’m also excited to again be a part of the NBC broadcast team for the race.”
During her 2005 debut, Patrick made history with Rahal Letterman Racing as she qualified fourth and led 18 laps before finishing fourth.
In becoming the highest-qualifying and highest-finishing female in the race’s history, she joined Lyn St. James as Rookie of the Year winners, 13 years after St. James did so.
By 2008, she became the first female winner of an IndyCar race, doing so at Twin Ring Motegi. The next year, Patrick and Andretti Green Racing finished third at the “500”, her career-best finish in eight starts.
“We’re happy to welcome back Danica to the place where she made motorsports history as the first female driver to lead ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’” IMS President J. Douglas Boles added.
“She will provide a unique perspective for NBC viewers while behind the wheel of the powerful Corvette Stingray convertible.”
This year, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray will be the first convertible to pace the field since 2008. Patrick also joins Elaine Irwin Mellencamp (2001) and Robin Roberts (2010) as female pace car drivers.
For Chevrolet, it is their 32nd time since 1948 that one of their vehicles has paved the field. Since 1978, 18 Corvettes have done so. The General Motors brand history at the race dates back to the inaugural running in 1911.
Arthur Chevrolet started 14th and finished 36th. His brother Gaston won the 1920 race, while brother Louis made starts in 1915 and 1916 after starting the car company with Arthur in November of 1911.
Thursday will be the last session with race-level boost prior to the increase set for “Fast Friday”. Tomorrow’s session will last from 12-6.
Stay with IndyCar1909 for all the latest Indianapolis 500 news and more.
Header Image By Chris Owens/INDYCAR