Will Power at Indianapolis on Fast Friday
Photo: Joe Skibinski

With Tuesday’s Practice 2 being canceled due to rain, Fast Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway marked the fourth full day of practice for the upcoming 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil and saw 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion and Australia native Will Power put a Team Penske-prepared car at the top of the speed chart for the first time of the week.

As the last practice session before qualifying, Fast Friday produces the quickest speeds of the week as the turbocharger boost is increased across the field and the teams trim out their cars and perform four-lap qualifying attempt simulations.

During the Practice 5 session, 18 cars of the field of 33 entered into the 230 mph and above bracket, with all but three drivers reaching the mark without the aid of a tow.

Beyond a bit of confidence entering two days of qualifying, $10,000 from Harding Group was set aside to go to the fastest driver on the day.

For the first time of the week, an entry from Roger Penske’s fleet of four ended the day at the top, with Will Power collecting the cash prize and gathering some confidence entering the weekend – albeit knowing he had some help.

“I got a good tow,” the Australian driver admitted.

“Even when the car is out of traffic, it was pretty good, pretty solid. I think it’s fast.

“I think it’s going to be really, really tight for pole. There’s a lot of quick guys out there and I think Honda is right there, too.”

Beyond being the first Team Penske car to end a practice session for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 at the top of the speed chart, Power’s 232.672 mph lap around the 2.5-mile superspeedway marked the fastest of the week for a Chevrolet-powered car after Honda dominated the opening three days of practice.

A second Chevy, the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing entry driven by Josef Newgarden, ended Fast Friday in the second position behind Will Power with a best speed of 232.344 mph.

Behind Newgarden in second and down to reigning series champion Scott Dixon in 12th, a string of Honda-powered machines filled the great majority of the topmost third of the Practice 5 timesheet, with James Hinchcliffe ending the day third fastest followed by Andretti Autosport stablemates Carlos Munoz and Marco Andretti who completed the top five.

Townsend Bell, driver of the No. 29 Andretti Autosport-run Honda, set the fastest no-tow speed of the day at 231.342 mph to end Fast Friday in the fifth position, leading Ryan Hunter-Reay, Gabby Chaves, Mikhail Aleshin, and Alexander Rossi in completing the top 10, with Rossi only three-tenths of a second off Power’s leading pace.

Tony Kanaan, winner of the 2013 Indianapolis 500, will be the first out on track when qualifying commences on Saturday after being assigned the first spot in line during the draw for qualifying positions following practice on Friday. The second car to make its way onto the 2.5-mile superspeedway for its four-lap qualifying effort will be the No. 22 Chevrolet of Simon Pagenaud, winner of the last three stops on the Verizon IndyCar Series tour. Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, set to make his fourth start at the “500” and shoot for his third win in the famed race, will be the 27th in line for qualifying.

Saturday morning will first begin with practice from 8-10 a.m. EDT before qualifying gets underway at 11 a.m. The top nine drivers at the close of Saturday’s qualifying attempts are locked into the Fast Nine Shootout for the pole the following day. The other drivers move on to Group 1 qualifying Sunday when grid positions 10-33 are determined.

Group 1 qualifying on Sunday runs from 2:45-4:45 p.m., with the 45-minute Fast Nine Shootout starting at 5 p.m. to determine the Verizon P1 Award pole winner and recipient of $100,000.

The 200-lap 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil will go green at 12:04 p.m. on Sunday, May 29.

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