Indy 500 – Fast Friday: Newgarden hits hard, Nolan Siegel too

Josef Newgarden was the fastest in a qualifying simulation this Friday in Indianapolis, while rookie Nolan Siegel had an impressive outing in Turn 2.

Published on 18/05/2024 à 10:14

Michael Duforest

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Indy 500 – Fast Friday: Newgarden hits hard, Nolan Siegel too

© Penske Entertainment: Chris Owens

Paradoxically, it was not the best lap of the day that got people talking this Friday in Indianapolis! If Colton Herta (Andretti) posted a performance averaging 234,974 mph (378,153 km/h) over one lap, that was not what was most important during the traditional “Fast Friday”.

This day is in fact contested with additional turbo pressure, which gives the drivers 100 more horsepower, and therefore much higher speeds. The objective is to prepare for the qualifying weekend, which will be held with the same package. And in qualifying at Indianapolis, it's the average over four laps that counts, not just one! In this little game, the Team Penske cars were imperial.

Josef Newgarden was the fastest of the numerous qualifying simulations held on Friday, with a four-lap average of 234,063 mph (376,687 km/h). The reigning winner has thus placed himself as one of the candidates for pole position this Sunday, but he will have a lot to do... mainly against his teammates! Scott McLaughlin and Will Power placed just behind Newgarden on the four-lap average.

“We can't be too happy about a day like today”, however tempers the American. « We are doing tests. Everyone is testing. It counts when it counts, but I think we have fast cars. There is no doubt. We must be satisfied with what we see. This team worked hard. We have to put the pieces of the puzzle together [Saturday]. It will be more difficult, and even more difficult on Sunday. »

Penske gets a new lease of life, Ganassi loses the instructions?

This speed in testing is still welcome news for Team Penske, which has experienced major setbacks in recent years (Newgarden having started 17th in 2023 when it won). As Colton Herta indicated at a press conference, the team's new partnership with AJ Foyt Racing may have something to do with it... Indeed, the Texan team has in its ranks Michael Cannon, a true "wizard » of the Speedway, at the origin of the resurrection which led to Santino Ferrucci's third place in 2023.

In fourth and fifth positions, Alexander Red and Pato O'Ward have shown that we will have to count on the McLaren this weekend, in a session generally dominated by Chevrolet engines. As for Chip Ganassi Racing, however, the atmosphere is absolutely not good. On pole for the last three editions, the team is seriously lacking in speed, and Alex Palou broke an engine during a qualifying simulation. Getting into the top 12 already promises to be a real test for a team that usually dominates the Speedway.

Only one accident disrupted the day, suffered by rookie Nolan Siegel in Turn 2. The American lost control for the first time, regained it then lost it again exiting the corner, before coming hit the wall and fly away. Siegel finished his race upside down on the back straight, fortunately uninjured. However, the pressure will mount on the beginner, who has not been in the top positions since the start of the week, and will have to put up with a reserve car this weekend. Remember that a driver will not start the Indy 500 and will therefore be eliminated on Sunday evening…

Indy 500 – Fast Friday – Ranking

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