Sunday, June 16, 2019

Hinchcliffe Tops Shortened Last Row Practice


What was scheduled to be an hourlong split practice for Last Row and Fast Nine qualifiers became 20 minutes of practice for five of the six Last Row qualifiers with James Hinchcliffe fastest in final preparations for the second day of qualifications for the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Behind the wheel of the No. 5T Honda, Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Hinchcliffe rebounded from Saturday’s crash and subsequent qualifying attempts in his backup car. His best practice lap of 228.125 mph was the fastest yet in the replacement car although practice conditions were much improved over Saturday thanks to cooler temperatures.

Dreyer and Reinbold Racing driver Sage Karam, who struggled throughout the first day of qualifying, also broke through the 228 mph threshold. Karam’s fastest lap of 228.083 mph ranked him second on the Practice 6 speed chart.

Carlin teammates Max Chilton and Patricio O’Ward occupied the next two positions with Chilton’s 227.404 mph top speed significantly quicker than O’Ward’s 225.746 mph effort.

Fernando Alonso’s No. 66 McLaren Racing Chevrolet occupied the bottom of the timesheet throughout the short green-flag period. With a speed that topped out at 223.309 mph, Alonso was well off the pace. When the rear of his car dragged severely on the track’s surface creating a shower of sparks, his crew went to work to correct the issue. Unfortunately, weather kept Alonso from turning more than six laps and finding out if the car had enough speed to challenge the other Last Row qualifiers.

Kyle Kaiser and the No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet were missing from the practice. Rather than preparing for qualifying, the team elected to save tires and engine mileage by focusing solely on their qualifying effort.

Inclement weather has left the schedule in flux although INDYCAR has confirmed that practice for the Fast Nine is expected to be the next on-track activity. Should the skies stay clear, qualifying for the last row as well as the first three rows could still occur Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Ben Hinc
Ben Hinc
Ben's executive editor title is purposefully broad to encompass the bottomless list of roles he fills for The Apex, which includes webmaster, graphic designer, quality consultant and writer. Ben's technical background and progressive media distribution approach set The Apex apart technologically and philosophically.


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