By: Spencer Neff
May 20, 2021
With qualifying weekend looming and a Bump Day that will see two entrants sent home, getting things dialed in was of the utmost importance during Thursday’s six-hour practice.
Before adjustments take shape for tomorrow’s Fast Friday practice, here’s how things looked in Practice Day 3 for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
Kanaan leads Thursday Practice
As was the case in Wednesday’s practice, a former “500” winner driving for Chip Ganassi Racing led the field.
This time, Tony Kanaan and the No. 48 car would top the speed chart. The 2013 race winner clocked a best lap at 225.341 miles per hour (39.9395 seconds), giving CGR and Honda engines the fastest lap in two of the first three practice days.
Finishing .017 of a second back of Kanaan’s best time, Ed Carpenter Racing’s Conor Daly led the way for the Chevrolet portion of the field.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Santino Ferrucci and Team Penale’s Josef Newgarden finished third and fourth on the day respectively.
Bookending the Top Five for Chip Ganassi Racing, points leader Scott Dixon ended the six-hour session in fifth.
On the no-tow chart, Honda was once again on top. This time, Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey posted a best lap of 222.090 (40.5241 seconds). 2019 Race Winner and pole sitter Simon Pagenaud was the fastest Chevrolet , .788 of a second behind Harvey.
The day’s running started off with a minor incident as ensuing controversy. As practice opened, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing took all three cars out on track in an attempt for a photo on track.
Unbeknownst to the field, drivers were forced to check up, including Paretta Autosport’s Simona de Silverado and Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin.
Approaching too quickly, Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian’s Colton Herta did not slow in time and made contact with McLaughlin. Both drivers went to the garage for repairs but returned soon after.
Following the incident, INDYCAR announced all three RLLR entries will be parked for the first 30 minutes of tomorrow’s session.
Ferrucci’s day ends following crash
Following two full days without a major accident, that stat changed for the worse more than halfway through Thursday’s on-track time.
With less than two hours remaining, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Santino Ferrucci spun and made contact with the outside wall in Turn 2. Luckily, the No. 45 did not make contact with anyone else on track.
The 2019 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year climbed from his car but was grabbing the back of his left leg and unable to put weight on it as he was helped into the ambulance and taken to the infield care center.
Following the accident, Ferrucci was sent to Methodist Hospital in downtown Indianapolis for continued evaluation of a “minor left leg injury” INDYCAR’s Medical Services Director Dr. Geoffrey Billows relayed.
Billows added that he does expect Ferrucci to get back into the car but could not confirm anything regarding his driving status for tomorrow’s practice.
Prior to the accident, he had been second on the speed chart. After a delay of around 15 minutes to clear the track, practice resumed.
INDYCAR, NTT announce extension of sponsorship agreement
This morning, NTT and INDYCAR announced they would continue their sponsorship agreement. In 2019, the global technology and data solutions provider became the series’ title sponsor.
Since 2013, the Tokyo, Japan-based company has been involved with the series.
NTT has partnered with Chip Ganassi during that time, currently serving as primary sponsor of Alex Palou’s No. 10 entry.
“With world-class technology and innovation, NTT has helped take the INDYCAR SERIES to the next level,” said Roger Penske, Founder and Chairman, Penske Corporation.
Penske bought IMS and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in November 2019, shortly after the conclusion of NTT’s first year as entitlement sponsor.
“Over the first two years as entitlement sponsor of the series, the dedicated team at NTT has helped INDYCAR become more efficient and effective through smart technologies,” he continued in today’s press release.
“As our sport continues to grow by connecting with a new generation of fans, NTT helps take us down new roads by creating more engaging experiences through our shared digital platforms. We thank NTT for the long-term commitment to the INDYCAR SERIES and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and we look forward to driving the future of our sport forward, together.”
“Enhancing the viewing experience and creating the next generation of INDYCAR followers – wherever they are – is a critical objective for INDYCAR and NTT, and we look forward to continuing our work with INDYCAR and the broader Penske Corporation and serving as a trusted partner to help the organization continue their digital transformation and achieve their ambitions,” explained Simon Walsh, Chief Executive Officer, NTT Ltd. Americas.
“The past year has significantly changed the way people engage with sports. NTT is helping INDYCAR adapt by creating new ways for fans to engage and connect through digital,” addedBob Pryor, Chief Executive Officer, NTT DATA Services.
“We’re excited to enhance the enjoyment and experience of motorsports for more fans. As the digital partner of choice for our clients, NTT DATA is proud to grow with INDYCAR and help fans enjoy their racing experiences—on and off the track.”
On Friday, the boost levels for the 2.2-liter V6 Chevrolet and Honda engines will be turned up to 1.4, giving drivers an extra 80 to 90 horsepower to work with during Time Trials for the weekend. This is expected to translate to at least and additional 8-9 miles per hour.
Practice will continue at its 12-6 scheduled time. Following the session, each of the 35 entrants will draw for their qualifying position. The draw will include their primary car and any backup cars each team may have.
Stay with IndyCar1909.com for all the latest regarding the Indianapolis 500 and check out our social media accounts for photos and videos from IMS this week.
Header Image By Doug Mathews/INDYCAR