Indy 500 practice: Fast Friday 

click to enlarge James Hinchliffe drives through turn one. - MIKE WILLIAMS
  • James Hinchliffe drives through turn one.
  • Mike Williams

Fast Friday saw higher speeds all across the speed chart yesterday. Teams were allowed to begin adding a 50 horsepower boost to their engines. A Chevy driver took the top spot on the speed chart for the first time since practice began for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Before practice began Andretti Autosport rookie Alexander Rossi unveiled his primary sponsor for next weekend’s r ace. NAPA Auto Parts will be Rossi’s primary sponsor, and his car will see a blue and yellow paint scheme.

“It’s fantastic to represent a company of that kind of significance and that background in the automotive industry like NAPA. It’s a huge boost to not only Andretti Autosport but for the 98 car group as well. I’m looking forward to getting the NAPA Auto Parts/Curb car up to the front,” said Rossi at the announcement.

Special guests for the day included former Indianapolis Colts linebacker and current director of player engagement, David Thornton, visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday with 26 players from the 2016 Colts rookie class. This was the first visit to the famed motor speedway for most of the players. Second-round pick T.J. Green was put to work yesterday, waving the green flag to officially start Fast Friday practice.

First-round draft pick Ryan Kelly had this to say about his first trip to IMS: “It’s been great so far. One of the first things we did was to get into one of the Chevys and go around the track at 120 miles per hour. The driver assured me that the guys (IndyCar Series drivers) are going twice as fast as we were. I have a great deal of respect for these guys and what they do. It’s been incredible. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the race for the first time. I like fast

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Track historian Donald Davidson received a Sagamore of the Wabash on Friday. The honorary award, the State of Indiana’s highest civilian honor, was bestowed by Gov. Mike Pence to someone who has “endeared himself to the Citizens of Indiana.”

Team Penske’s Will Power took the top speed of the day with a run of 232.672 mph on lap 24 of his 32 completed laps. While taking the top lap on Fast Friday, Power earned  $10,000 for winning the F.E. Harding Fast Lap Award Ed Carpenter Racing’s Josef Newgarden had the second fastest time with a time of 232.344 mph on lap 57 of his 58 laps.

After practice was over Power spoke about his run: “I got a good tow. Even when the car is out of traffic, it was pretty good, pretty solid. I think it’s fast. I think it's going to be really, really tight for pole. There's a lot of quick guys out there and I think Honda is right there, too.”

Power hasn’t exactly at the bottom of the speed chart, but one could argue that he had been “laying low”, and that was something he was asked about in the post practice press conference. “You know, we've been working on the race setup, obviously. When we're running race downforce, you can definitely get like a five-car tow type of thing and put out some good speeds,” said Power.

It was all Honda engines rounding out the top 5. James Hinchcliffe took third overall, and had the top Honda speed of the day with a speed of 231.972 mph. Afterwards Hinchcliffe said “I think we made a lot of progress over the day. Certainly all those times up there are tow times. If you look at the no-tow report, we're hovering around tenth or eleventh, something like that. That's all, that puts us in the fight for Fast Nine tomorrow. It's good to get out there and run a big lap at the end. It's great to see a lot of Hondas running up front certainly.”

Andretti Autosport drivers Carlos Munoz (231.952) and Marco Andretti (231.824) took the 4th and 5th positions to complete the top 5 drivers of the day.

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