INDIANAPOLIS – Ed Jones of Ed Carpenter Racing was the fastest driver in Thursday’s abbreviated Indianapolis 500 practice session, with a fast lap at 227.843 mph in his No. 63 Chevrolet.
He ran his fast time on lap eight and completed 37 laps on Thursday. Takuma Sato, winner of the 101st Indianapolis 500, was second in a Honda at 226.699 mph. The day was brought to an early end because of a rain storm that struck the track just after 4:30 p.m.
Jones was Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 2017 and this is his first season with ECR.
“Since joining the team, the first thing you think about is, as a driver anyway, you want to be quicker in the Indianapolis 500, and I knew as soon as the deal was done, that was going to be a reality,” Jones said. “So far, it’s been so good.
“It’s great to be part of Scuderia Corsa and Ed Carpenter Racing, and a lot of credit to Ed Carpenter, running a third car. With other teams maybe, a lot of times where the third cars aren’t quite the same as the two main ones, and as we’ve seen so far this week and also last year with Danica Patrick, they’ve done a great job with that third car and giving us an opportunity to be fighting at the front.
“I’m grateful for that and looking forward to how the rest of the week progresses.”
Jones likes the idea that the owner of the team is also a driver. Because of that, it’s easier to share data with the team’s other drivers including Carpenter and Spencer Pigot.
“It’s quite a different concept,” Jones said. “And for sure it’s beneficial because, as a driver, you see things differently to how a team owner would see them sometimes, and vice versa.
“Ed sees it, and he knows what it takes to have a good team around here, what it takes to produce those results. I’ve been learning from him. Again, I’ve been fortunate with the teammates I’ve had the past three years, with Sebastien, who was just up here, Scott last year, and now Ed as well. I think, if you’re going to pick three guys to learn from as teammates around the speedway, I think those are probably near the top of the list.
“I’ve been happy with that, and again just trying to learn as much as I can.”
Jones also led the ever-important now tow speeds. Those are times without the aid of another car 10 seconds in front or 10 seconds behind a car when it is clocked. That means it’s a pure speed and not benefited by a draft.
Pigot was second on the no tow list followed by Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Charlie Kimball. All of the top five of the no tow group were Chevrolets.
There was one major crash in Thursday’s action.
Carlin rookie Patricio O’Ward slammed hard into the turn two wall at 12:20 p.m. Eastern Time and went airborne for a few hundred feet before landing on its wheels Thursday in practice. The crash practice for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 was the second time in as many days a rookie driver has hit the turn two wall after losing front aero balance in turn two.
O’Ward’s Dallara/Chevrolet flew like a wing but did not rollover. That minimized the impact of the crash. The 19-year-old driver from Mexico was able to climb out of the car with minimal assistance from the AMR IndyCar Safety Team.
He was taken to the IU Health Infield Care Center for evaluation. The tub for Carlin appears to have suffered front damage, which means the team will have to switch to a backup car and scrub the primary chassis.
“I’m OK,” O’Ward said after his release. “I went for a ride. There are two kinds of people at IMS – the ones who are going to hit the wall and the ones who have already hit the wall.
“Oh, I hit hard. I felt it and maybe hit the side of the monocoque. My hands are a bit sore. The good thing is we are OK. It looks like I just lost it, I guess. There is not much more I can say about that. It looks like I’m OK. The team is going to get a car ready for the next sessions or for Friday. They are getting the spare car ready.”
Fernando Alonso, who crashed his McLaren during practice on Wednesday, failed to turn a lap while his team worked to prepare his backup car. The team had hoped to have the car on track by 1 or 2 p.m., but the team was still working on his car when the rain storm hit the track and ended all on-track activity for the remainder of the day.