INDIANAPOLIS — One of the dramatic shifts in focus at the Indianapolis 500 over the past 20 years is how the big crowds that once attended Pole Day have now flocked to Carb Day as the second-biggest day of the Month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Friday’s Coor’s Light Carb Day crowd for the 100th Indianapolis 500 was huge. More than 100,000 spectators were on the grounds for Friday’s jammed-packed day that started with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan posting the fastest speed in the one-hour final practice for Sunday’s Indy 500 with a lap at 226.280 mph in a Chevrolet.
Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz was second in a Honda at 224.772 mph and 2008 Indy 500 winner and Kanaan’s teammate Scott Dixon was third at 224.606 mph in a Chevrolet.
In just one hour, the 33 cars in the starting lineup for Sunday’s race turned 1,368 laps. The practice laps were so fierce and so close that it looked like a race more than a practice.
“I think in the past years we don’t need to save engines on Carb Day anymore, which used to be the case,” Kanaan said for the incredible amount of activity on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We use this as the last — this is the closest we get to the race, two days, and after being here for almost a month, the engineers come up with different plans every day. The more time you give them, the more they come up with stuff. And we had almost five days without being on track, so they go back to the shop and do simulations and stuff and come up with new stuff.
“So we had to test. And I think everybody is eager to feel how the car behaves in traffic. So we — it was a race out there today, that’s for sure.”
Kanaan is the 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner and was amazed at the size of the crowd as well as happy with the performance of his No. 10 Chevrolet.
“I’m happy with my car,” said Kanaan, who will 18th on Sunday after missing the setup in qualifying. “Obviously I have to pass 17 people before I get really happy with my car. But after the struggle in qualifying, we really focused, me and Dixon, on the race and I think you can see both of us up there.
“Anybody count us out, it’s a big mistake. But it will be more exciting for the fans.
“I’m amazed how many people are here today. It’s really — I thought all of my 15 years I had seen it all here, and clearly I didn’t. So I can’t wait until Sunday.”