3:05 PM — Somewhat as expected, drivers have been slow to take to the 2.5-mile oval this afternoon with higher temperatures and gustier winds. Those drivers who have been on track, however, have not been slow. Almost 2.5 hours into this Fast Friday session, Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi current sits atop the speed chart with a lap of 231.883 mph, only the slightest fraction of a second quicker than Pato O’Ward (231.798 mph) and Ganassi’s Marcus Ericsson (231.782 mph).
The first yellow flag brought about by wall contact came around 1:25 this afternoon when Jimmie Johnson made very light contact with the SAFER Barrier at the exit of Turn 2. Johnson had just turned a lap a tick over 229 mph when he pushed on exit and lightly brushed the wall with the right front and right rear wheel. Johnson’s car was mostly undamaged and he was able to drive safely back to pit lane, but his Chip Ganassi Racing team took the car back to the garage to make repairs.
In an interview on Peacock TV, Alexander Rossi just admitted that they are likely done for the day. With the treacherous wind condition this afternoon, the risk just far outweighs the reward. While cars packed in over 3,200 laps in practice sessions earlier this week, the lap count at 3:03 stands at only 251 amongst 27 cars.
Another interesting tidbit from this afternoon, Conor Daly posted a trap speed entering Turn 3 of 243.724 mph, the fastest trap speed ever recorded at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since trap speeds were first officially recorded in 2009.
I’ll try to sneak in one more update later this afternoon, but I have to leave the grounds early this evening to get back home for my son’s 8th grade promotion tonight. Either way, I look forward to being back again tomorrow!
11:54 AM — Good morning, friends, and welcome to Fast Friday for the 2022 Indianapolis 500! And let me tell you, it is GREAT to be back at the track again! I realized as I was in the final stage of packing this morning that this is my first race to be credentialed for since Pocono in 2019 when my wife, Kelli, likes to claim she nearly lost her life as a nearby spectator to the first lap Turn 2 pile up. (It’s really wasn’t that close but it’s fun to hear her tell the story.) Maybe it’s the time away or maybe it’s all the crap we as a world have dealt with since that long-ago day in August 2019, but it just feels extra special to be back at the World’s Great Racecourse today.
Today’s on-track activities, scheduled to start at straight-up noon, will be among the most frantic and edgy of the entire year. Boost levels go up, downforce levels come down, and speeds jump. Even in conditions from earlier this week, those factors would be enough to make even the most seasoned veterans nervous. However, weather conditions today are significantly more treacherous with ambient temperatures already in the low 80s, track temps above 100º, and strong winds from the south-southeast.
With only 33 cars vying for 33 starting positions, it goes without saying the risk of pushing too hard over the next 30 hours far outweigh the rewards. For those drivers who lack general experience here at IMS and only know the Speedway from the last three days of mostly “nice” conditions, one may fear a bit of ego could set in with some and easily catch out those who attempt to tackle both the increased speeds and deteriorated weather conditions at once. With six hours of running available today, I expect several drivers to chip away at their speed rather than leap for huge numbers off the bat.
With that, I’ll get this posted and start to wander this beautiful facility. This is actually the first time I’ve gotten roam around under the new Penske ownership so I’m looking forward to seeing some of the changes to be found