Friday at the Indy 500: Scott Dixon fastest on Carb Day

INDIANAPOLIS – Carb Day at the Indianapolis 500 usually means Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is going to be fast.

He continued that trend Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the fastest speed in the final two-hour practice session before the 108thIndianapolis 500.

Dixon’s fastest lap of 227.206 miles per hour was the fastest lap of the day around the 2.5-mile oval. He ran 90 laps in the session and was the only driver in the 227 mile-per-hour range.

Dixon was second in speed in last year’s Carb Day; fourth in 2022; the fastest in 2021; second in 2020, 2018, 2015 and 2014. He was third in 2016 and fourth in 2017.

In 2019, he was way back in 19th place, an anomaly for the driver that is one of the greatest IndyCar racers of all-time.

“We rolled off pretty good with a sequence of changes,” Dixon told NBC Sports. “Some were a little bit OK, some not so much. I think the track conditions changed from the start to finish as well. It was a good day. The car seems pretty fast. It pulls up well, pretty consistent. We had a few moments in the practice where it was neutral.

“It’s just Carb Day, man, it doesn’t mean much. We’ll keep our head down and try to make the most of it.”

Dixon starts 21st, one of the worst Indy 500 starting positions of his career.

“You have to take the moment as it is,” Dixon said. “You don’t want to rush it too much. We have some positions to make up. How long and what the weather does is out of our control.

“We would like to move up as quick as possible. I would like to pass all 20 cars on the first lap, but that is not going to happen.”

IndyCar: 108th Running of Indianapolis 500-Practice
IndyCar: 108th Running of Indianapolis 500-Practice

Dixon is making his 22nd Indy 500 start from the outside of Row 7 on Sunday.

“It started off pretty good,” Dixon explained. “Conditions were definitely tricky. It changed a lot throughout. I think early on was quite comfortable. We went through some changes. Some were good, some were bad. But definitely a lot of competitive cars out there, so it's going to be one tough race.

“As the track got a little bit warmer out there with track temp especially, it got pretty greasy and pretty slippery.

“But I think the 9 car has been fairly strong in race running but, unfortunately, I think there's about 20 others that are really strong, as well.”

Dixon had one of his poorer qualification weekends last week when none of the Chip Ganassi Racing entries could find the speed to make the Fast 12 and have a shot at the Fast Six and the pole.

But the CGR cars look impressive for Race Day.

“Every day is a productive day,” Chip Ganassi Racing Managing Director Mike Hull said. “Some days are more visible than others.

“The evidence of that is Scott from the first moment of practice going all the way back to the Open Test, he works on the race. What other people see during the week are other people that run without lifting off the throttle.

“What happens in the race is you have to lift off the throttle because of two things – the turbulence and the traffic. In these cars, they are sensitive to the slightest change in ride height when you get off the throttle.

“That is what Scott works extremely hard on.”

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
Syndication: The Indianapolis Star

Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was second in the No. 06 Honda for Meyer-Shank Racing at 226.939 mph. He ran a total of 103 laps.

“I feel pretty comfortable,” Castroneves said. “Pretty comfortable in the machine, we just have to stay out of trouble.

“This is important because it’s the last practice before the Super Bowl. Everybody tries to show their best today and have a positive vibe for the 500.

“We had no vibrations, no issues and that is what everybody achieved.”

Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren was third at 226.666 mph in the No. 5 Chevrolet. The driver from Monterrey, Mexico, completed 78 laps. Colton Herta of Andretti Global was fourth at 226.220 mph in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda. He completed 79 laps.

Tom Blomqvist of Meyer-Shank Racing rounded out the top five at 225.450 mph in the No. 66 Honda. He completed 62 laps.

Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing completed the most laps in the final practice with 106. He was 17th on the speed chart at 224.353 mph.

The 33-car starting lineup turned a total of 2,721 laps in the two-hour practice. The only yellow flag of the race was when Kyle Larson ran out of fuel on the race course late in the session. After he was moved off course, the practice was completed without issue.

Scott McLaughlin, who won the Indy 500 Pole last Sunday, was 20th with a best lap at 224.264 mph in the No. 3 Pennzoil Chevrolet.

“It’s very similar to what we started with this week,” McLaughlin said. “We haven't really played around too much mechanically with the car. It felt good out of the box, and just sort of building my confidence with it. We tried a few different downforce levels there just to get an idea.

“It looks like cooler temps for Sunday as well as Monday if that gets pushed back. Hopefully not. But ultimately, you're just sort of going through the motions, attacking the pit speed line. I actually sped, which was a good thing to get that out of the way now. A few other things like just pit stop practice and whatnot. I was just ticking things off the list.

“I felt really good, but didn't put a big number up, but I think we're OK.”


Larson, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, was 13th fastest at 224.761 mph in the No. 17 Chevrolet for Arrow McLaren/Hendrick Motorsports.

He ran out of fuel when he attempted a run late in the session, but other than that, feels pretty confident about his chances on Sunday.

“I'm happy to be here,” Larson said. “I haven't been stressed out yet.”

After the field of 33 completed the two-hour practice, the best pit crews in IndyCar were in the spotlight in the annual One Stop to Start Pit Stop Challenge.

Team Penske won its record-extending 19th Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge, as driver Josef Newgarden earned his second win in the prestigious annual contest between the best Indianapolis 500 pit crews.

It was the first win for Team Penske and Newgarden since 2022.

Newgarden and Team Penske earned the victory by beating Arrow McLaren and driver O’Ward in the best-of-three final round, sweeping the first two rounds.

Reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Newgarden entered the pit box in the No. 2 Shell Powering Progress Team Penske Chevrolet and Team Penske’s crew changed four tires and simulated fueling in 11.333 seconds in the first round, edging O’Ward and the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet crew’s time of 12.121 for service.

In the second round, Team Penske and Newgarden completed its stop in 10.792, the quickest of the contest. Arrow McLaren and O’Ward trailed at 12.647.

Newgarden’s crew earned a $50,000 prize for the victory, while O’Ward’s Arrow McLaren crew earned $25,000 for its runner-up finish.

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
Syndication: The Indianapolis Star

Members of the winning team: Chad Gordon, chief mechanic/outside front tire changer; Caitlyn Brown, inside front tire changer; Kyle Lapier, inside rear tire changer; Keenan Watson, outside rear tire changer; Derrick Ruppert, fueler; Tom Jones, air jack.

The last time a driver swept the Pit Stop Challenge and Indianapolis 500 in the same year was 2009, when Castroneves of Team Penske achieved the feat.

“This is the A-Team,” Gordon said. “We train with the 12 car (Will Power) guys all the time. We get the same coaching, the same facilities, all the same stuff. We expect to be here.

“I think we'd all be lying if we didn't say we'd feel good about it. There's still also 500 miles to race on Sunday.

“Everybody sitting here, when we got told we were doing this again this year, we were pumped for it. This is, I don't know, we like showing up for this, showcasing everybody on pit lane. There's a lot of talent out there.”

It is believed that Brown is the first female to be a member of the winning Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge team. She is 25 from Wilmington, Illinois.

“For me it's just show up and do what everyone else does, try to be my best,” Brown said. “It's so cool to win something for Roger, especially at IMS. I think they said this was the 19th Pit Stop win for him. To get him his 19th 500 and now his 19th Pit Stop win, it's pretty cool.

“I got involved with Team Penske from connections and knowing people. I moved down to North Carolina to pursue racing. Got involved with late model dirt stuff. They knew somebody from Penske. From there I got my foot in the door.

“Originally, I had my eyes set on NASCAR. Once I got to Team Penske, I knew they're involved in a lot of different series. They're successful in all of them. I knew that was always an opportunity if I wanted it. In '21 I had that opportunity. Once I came over to this side, I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500