INDIANAPOLIS — Dario Franchitti returned to a familiar place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner was at the top of the board as the fastest of the day during Wednesday’s practice session.
The defending Indy 500 winner had a tow-aided lap of 224.236 miles per hour in a Dallara/Honda during the “Happy Hour” portion of practice.
“It doesn’t count for much but it’s nice nonetheless,” Franchitti said. “Right now we are still in the preparation stages of making some changes to the car. We made some pretty big changes to the Target car in the afternoon and we were pretty happy with it so we went out there with some of the Andretti guys and some others as well as my teammates Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball and Ryan Briscoe. Really, the lap time came by being in the right place at the right time and getting a tow. It was more important the car was balanced but we are getting there.
“We are closer than we have been.”
Marco Andretti said on Monday that all the race laps run in practice was what won Franchitti the race last year. That’s when the driver from Scotland spent so much time running long runs with teammate Scott Dixon.
“If you get the car close enough you can do that,” Franchitti said. “It prepares you for the race. Conditions were quite different in the race than the days leading up to it. We changed the car today and were a bit happier with it. Hopefully we’ll get some more long runs in on Thursday and if we get into the race on Saturday we can do some of that on Sunday.”
It was the hottest day yet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the temperature soared to 88 degrees on Wednesday. It was also the hottest day on the track as the final portion of Happy Hour looked more like Race Day for the 97th Indianapolis 500.
There were so many cars on the track during Happy Hour that is provided plenty of useful information for the teams and drivers as they prepare for the May 26 500-Mile Race. Most teams still haven’t attempted any qualifying setup because that likely won’t happen until Thursday’s practice and it will definitely take place on “Fast Friday” when each team is allowed to turn up the boost for an additional 40-50 horsepower. The extra boost will remain through Saturday’s Pole Day and Sunday’s Bump Day before returning to its normal level for Carb Day on May 24.
“It’s been interesting with all the different weather conditions we’ve practiced in,” Franchitti said. “The worst thing you can have here is when it is hot and gusty winds and that is what we had here today. I had a huge moment early and that woke me up. Hopefully, the winds will drop on Thursday and maybe it will be less action packed, I hope.”