INDIANAPOLIS — Rookie Josef Newgarden learned a valuable lesson about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as practice for the 96th Indianapolis 500 continued.
The 21-year-old Tennessee native’s respect for the race track grew with 16 minutes left in the six-hour practice session May 16 when his car bobbled in Turn 4, did two complete spins and struck a glancing blow on the pit lane retaining wall. It was the first incident of contact of the month.
“You don’t get many lucky breaks around this place, and I think I just got one. The guys have done a great job putting together such a good car, and I don’t want to hurt the thing,” said Newgarden. “I’ll try to learn what happened and why the thing got around on me. Everyone’s trying to figure out the race car around this place, and obviously I have a little more work to do. We were old on our tire run and trying to run as far as possible to see how the car reacts, and I think it’s just difficult to run in the tow, and today I got bit by it a little.”
Other than a scare, it was a positive day for Newgarden, who topped the time chart for the third time this month.
Newgarden’s best lap of 40.3977 seconds (222.785 mph) led Andretti Autosport teammates Marco Andretti (222.108 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (221.763) and James Hinchcliffe (221.638) as teams continued working on race set-ups with the new Dallara chassis.
There’s one more day of practice before teams receive the added turbocharger boost for Fast Friday – reflecting a 40-50 horsepower gain and 4-5 mph per lap. The increase in the boost will be available for that session and the weekend time trials.
Thirty drivers recorded 1,632 laps. Two-time Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti (221.623) was fifth overall in the No. 50 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car and Justin Wilson was sixth (221.420) in the No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ car for Dale Coyne Racing.
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