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Takuma Sato shines with fastest time in Indianapolis 500 practice



Indianapolis 500 Miles practice 2023

Takuma Sato takes charge at the Brickyard, leading Chip Ganassi Racing to a one-two finish in his first Indianapolis 500. Despite rain canceling the opening day, Sato dominates practice with the fastest time, outshining his previous performances.

Takuma Sato, started his inaugural Indianapolis 500 for Chip Ganassi Racing on a high note, securing the fastest time and leading a one-two finish with his colleague Scott Dixon. Here’s a comprehensive review of Wednesday’s activities at the Brickyard.

Persistent rain on Tuesday resulted in the cancellation of the opening day. Despite numerous efforts to execute at least one set of installation laps, the day was ultimately called off.

However, Wednesday brought about warmer temperatures and moderate winds, creating ideal conditions for the first practice day.

Sato, who had the fastest time and led both practice sessions at the same event last year, outdid his 2022 performance with a lap of 229.439mph on Wednesday, surpassing his previous best of 228.939mph, also achieved on a Wednesday.

It’s crucial not to place too much emphasis on the timings because each team follows a unique plan, incorporating various setups and levels of downforce – all of these factors can skew the standings and their relevance.

Having said that, Sato and Dixon were both able to achieve laps exceeding 229mph earlier in the day, with most of the late advancements occurring during large group runs in the final hour.


Before the last hour, known as “happy hour”, the top four spots were held by Ganassi drivers, but Santino Ferrucci from AJ Foyt Racing broke into the top three with a commendable 228.977mph lap. Ferrucci is excited about the prospect of shaping his team, particularly since he is one of several significant additions to the team this year. He should be pleased with the progress made thus far.

Consequently, Alex Palou, the victor of the Indy road course, landed in fourth place, followed by Penske’s Scott McLaughlin and Andretti’s Colton Herta. Both of them managed to displace Marcus Ericsson, the current Indy 500 champion, from the fourth position.

The no-tow rankings offer a good opportunity to estimate who might perform well in qualifying since it records laps where cars have not benefited from drafting.

However, this is only indicative if everyone has completed a qualifying run and registered a no-tow speed for comparison, which wasn’t the case on Wednesday.

In the no-tow top three, Rinus VeeKay led his teammate Ed Carpenter and Penske’s Will Power.

When looking at the manufacturers, six out of the top 10 cars were Hondas, and they also made up three out of the top five, while four Chevrolets managed to crack the top 10.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2014 champion who started his tenure with Dreyer & Reinbold strongly, was among those Chevys, finishing in eighth place.


DRR is unique in being the only team that participates in just one IndyCar race per year. However, it has boasted impressive top 10 finishes in recent years and got off to a promising start with Hunter-Reay in eighth and Stefan Wilson in 15th.

Josef Newgarden managed to secure the ninth position for Penske, finishing ahead of Marco Andretti.

Despite their best car, driven by Alexander Rossi, only finishing 19th, the McLaren team seems satisfied with its performance. Pato O’Ward came in 20th, followed by Tony Kanaan in 23rd and Felix Rosenqvist in 27th.

Interestingly, Rossi clocked the highest number of laps, nearly covering three-fourths of the race distance with 142 laps.

The team has been exploring various setup options and does not appear concerned about its standing in the overall ranking.

Recently, during the Indianapolis open test, Juncos Hollinger Racing driver Callum Ilott expressed frustration with his car’s handling, equating it to throwing his car in the trash. He described the handling to as akin to “throwing a ping-pong ball down a corridor”. Now, however, he suggests it’s more like replacing the ping-pong ball with a golf ball.

While the precise meaning of his analogy remains unclear, Ilott seems to be in better spirits overall.


“It’s still the same, different from normal,” he told F1Lead prior to his final runs.

“I think it’s specific to the car we have. I’m not certain if it’s ideal, but we’ve managed to work around it and make it drivable, which makes me happy.

“We still need to refine it somewhat. That’s only after the first three runs that we’ve had some clean corners.”

When asked if they will stick with the current car or switch to a backup, he replied, “At the moment, yeah [stick with this car].”

“We’ve tried various adjustments to make it work. A few of these weren’t beneficial, while one or two were. We’re now going to revisit it, but changes take time,” he explained.

He started with laps under 220mph in the morning but managed to clock a 223.409mph in his final runs, which was the slowest of the day. The team now faces a crucial decision regarding their next steps.

RC Enerson, having missed the open test where all other drivers completed their rookie orientation, had to reintroduce himself to the event. Enerson is racing for Abel Motorsports, an Indy NXT team stepping up to the IndyCar and the Indy 500 for the first time. For the rest of the event, his driving is unrestricted. He registered the 33rd quickest time in practice.


Phase 1 – Complete 10 laps at speeds ranging from 205 to 210 mph.

Phase 2 – Successfully complete 15 laps at speeds ranging from 210 to 215 mph.

Phase 3 – Accomplish 15 laps at speeds exceeding 215 mph.

Phase 110 laps205-210 mph
Phase 215 laps210-215 mph
Phase 315 lapsMore than 215 mph

Wednesday saw no major crashes, testament to the hard work teams have invested in refining their cars without any serious damage.

Graham Rahal had a minor incident where he grazed the wall in what he termed a “rookie move” as he got distracted and hit the Turn 2 wall, but this didn’t affect his day significantly.

Rahal was in the spotlight prior to practice after he confessed he might leave his father Bobby Rahal’s co-owned team at the end of the year if its performance doesn’t improve.

His team-mates didn’t fare very well either, but, similar to McLaren, the team doesn’t seem too troubled by its ranking.


The only other notable occurrence was Ryan Hunter-Reay narrowly escaping a three-way collision with Scott McLaughlin. Hunter-Reay just missed Ed Carpenter, who was aiming for the pits at Turn 3. McLaughlin seemed less than thrilled with the incident, as reflected by his radio communication.

Indianapolis 500 Miles practice 2023 Indianapolis 500 Miles practice 2023 Indianapolis 500 Miles practice 2023 Indianapolis 500 Miles practice 2023

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