It took three days but Indy 500 field gets full day of practice (almost)

INDIANAPOLIS – Finally, after two days of consistent yellow flags and weather delays resulted in less than three hours of practice time, the 34 drivers gearing up for the 108th annual Indianapolis 500 experienced a nearly full day of practice. And yet, two crashes and more rain ensured the originally scheduled eight hours turned into less than six.

A little less than an hour and a half into green flag time, an Indianapolis 500 rookie experienced the first crash of Indianapolis 500 practice. Linus Lundqvist’s No. 8 Honda hit the outside wall on Turn 2 hard after he got too close to the curbing before skidding across the track and into the grass on the back straight.

The crash resulted in some damage to the back right of the Chip Ganassi Racing car, but no harm was done to Lundqvist.

Though Lundqvist was physically OK and sat with the seventh best lap speed of the day (226.261 mph) in just 23 laps, the Swede was massively disappointed in his day ending early and for setting back the mechanical progress the Chip Ganassi Racing team had made in preparation for the Indianapolis 500 to that point.

Álex Palou, Lundqvist’s teammate, said he talked to the Indianapolis 500 rookie about an hour after the crash. Palou described the Swede as mentally strong, as he realized that his crash could have been a lot worse and quickly moved past it.

“He’ll go right at it tomorrow without fear,” Palou said.

Once the field broke for lunch around 12:30 p.m., Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward led all drivers with a top lap speed of 228.861 MPH. Behind him was the Day 2 leader, Scott McLaughlin of Team Penske, who completed a 227.316 miles per hour top lap speed. Third place was Palou, the 2023 Indianapolis 500 pole position winner, who’s top lap speed was 226.915 at the time.

Much of the field returned about an hour later, and the top three of the leader board remained unchanged as many drivers began qualifying simulations. However, around 3:50 p.m., Marcus Ericsson underwent the second crash of the day.

Ericsson approached the inside curbing on Turn 4 too low, crossing the white line before spinning out of control. In the process, his car spun backward before smashing the outside wall and obliterating the front of his No. 28 Honda, almost losing the front left tire in the process.

Before the car came to a halt, Ericsson sputtered out across the track and hit the inside wall and a barrier near the pit lane. The Andretti Global driver exited the track unassisted and told reporters less than 30 minutes later that he was okay.

Like Lundqvist, he was just disappointed to have lost progress for himself and his team on what he felt was a good day of practice. Ericsson finished the day having completed 79 laps with a top lap speed of 224.592 mph.

Palou, who crashed at Indianapolis 500 qualifying in 2021, knows what it's like to be in the position of Ericsson and Lundqvist. He said aside from inquiring about what caused the crash, he doesn’t let other drivers’ crashes affect his mentality on the track.

“You cannot really get affected by somebody else’s (crash). … You obviously don’t want to look at the crash on TV,” Palou said.

A rain delay hit IMS for the third day in a row after five and a half hours of green flag time, and the yellow flag stood until approximately 5:35 p.m., when drivers were then allotted a bit more practice time with just 25 minutes left. However, the yellow flag waved once again about 13 minutes later to end the day. At the end of the day, O’Ward (56 laps), McLaughlin (73 laps) and Palou (41 laps) kept their top three positions.

O’Ward said after a combined two and a half hours of practice time during the two days before Thursday, he was eager to join a packed track on a – mostly – full practice day.

“It's always fun to go out there and start playing around with everybody and find what cars are not as strong as you or stronger than you,” O’Ward said.

Fast Friday is tentatively scheduled for tomorrow, as all 34 cars will get an extra 100 horsepower boost to climb closer toward race day speed. While practice is scheduled to run from noon-6 p.m., drivers and crew alike are keeping a close eye on May 17’s forecast.

The 108th annual Indianapolis 500 is just 10 days away, set for Sunday, May 26 at 12:45 p.m. at IMS.

Contact Kyle Smedley with comments via email at or on X @KyleSmedley_.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: It took 3 days but Indy 500 field gets full day of practice (almost)