Fernando Alonso fourth quickest in Thursday practice for the Indy 500
Britain's Jay Howard led the way at the Brickyard; Alonso posts his fastest lap of the week
By William Esler
Last Updated: 19/05/17 8:49am
Fernando Alonso finished Thursday practice for the Indianapolis 500 fourth quickest, as Britain's Jay Howard led the way at the Brickyard.
Alonso replicated his performance of the previous day as he continues to build towards qualifying ahead of a bid for stage two of motorsport's triple crown, having already won the Monaco GP and eyeing a future drive at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The Spaniard's best lap saw him post an average lap speed of 225.619 mph, as he completed the 2.5 mile oval in 39.8902 seconds. The lap was by far Alonso's fastest of the week and over a second better than he had achieved in windy conditions on Wednesday.
"We tested a couple of different trims and different setup options," Alonso said.
"The car felt quite OK from the very beginning of the morning, but then I think we did improve it during the day, so I'm quite happy.
"We worked still a lot on the race situation, keeping other guys out there and running in traffic. I think we found a good balance for traffic. I think tomorrow we will concentrate a little bit more alone on qualifying, but the priority is the race."
With the aid of his Andretti Autosport team-mates, Alonso was able to gain further experience of running in traffic during the final 'happy hour' of the day's five-hour session, which most teams used to work on race rather than qualifying setups.
Like Alonso, Howard is making his 2017 debut at the Indy 500, having last driven an IndyCar in 2011. The Briton clocked an average lap speed of 226.744 mph to set the pace for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
"Just got back in the groove of things," Howard said. "Kind of like riding a bike, you know, you don't forget. This place just as magical as it was last time I was here."
Alonso's Andretti team-mates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti were second and third quickest as Honda-powered cars dominated.
Underlying the pace of the Andretti cars, Takuma Sato was the fastest driver without the benefit of an aerodynamic tow clocking on the non-tow timesheet with a 224.734 mph
Josef Newgarden was the best placed of the Chevrolet runners, but his day was brought to an early end after heavy contact with the wall.
As for the other British drivers, Max Chilton was 21st (223.783 mph), Pippa Mann 25th (223.048 mph) and Jack Harvey 29th (223.048 mph).
Friday is known as "Fast Friday" at the Indy 500 as the teams are allowed to turn the horsepower up further for the final practice session ahead of qualifying.
Indy 500 Thursday Practice Top 20 Time Sheet
|Driver||Team||Speed (mph)||Time (secs)|
|Jay Howard||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||226.744||39.6924|
|Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||225.826||39.8537|
|Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||225.709||39.8743|
|Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda Andretti||225.619||39.8902|
|Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||225.455||39.9193|
|Sage Karam||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||225.185||39.9671|
|Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing||225.141||39.9750|
|Oriol Servia||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||224.837||40.0290|
|Takumo Sato||Andretti Autosport||224.771||40.0408|
|Sebastian Bourdais||Dale Coyne Racing||224.725||40.0490|
|Mikhail Aleshin||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||224.611||40.0693|
|Will Power||Team Penske||224.563||40.0779|
|Alexander Rossi||Andretti Herta Autosport||224.503||40.0885|
|Juan Pablo Montoya||Team Penske||224.471||40.0942|
|Helio Castroneves||Team Penske||224.407||40.1057|
|Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||224.388||40.1091|
|Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||224.351||40.1157|
|Ed Jones||Dale Coyne Racing||224.331||40.1193|
|Carlos Munoz||A. J. Foyt Enterprises||224.291||40.1264|
|Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing||224.051||40.1695|
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