Helio Castroneves paces Carb Day practice, Hinchcliffe victim of motor woes

Walt Kuhn/INDYCAR

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

Chevrolet topped the charts, but it was Honda’s pace and reliability woes that continued to dominate storylines in the final practice session before the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves led the way in the hour-long session for the Verizon IndyCar Series, laying down a 227.377 mph lap in his No. 3 Chevrolet.

“I remember Tony Dungy just before the Super Bowl a couple of years ago,” Castroneves told INDYCAR. “When I was there, he finished the practice, everybody was really pumped. I think today it was just a great way to finish practice like this, show that we have a good car, a good balanced car, and we’re going for the big one on Sunday.”

Following Castroneves’ golden machine were a fleet of six Hondas, including Takuma Sato (226.802 mph), Tony Kanaan (226.757), Scott Dixon(226.685), Fernando Alonso (226.608), Graham Rahal (226.396) and Alexander Rossi (226.205).

However, while Hondas continued to show pace, the defending Indy 500-winning manufacturer left the day uneasy after yet another instance of reliability issues when James Hinchcliffe’s No. 5 Honda erupted in smoke during the session’s final 20 minutes.

Hinchcliffe’s issue was just the latest in what’s been a tumultuous month for the OEM. Dating back to the month-opening INDYCAR Grand Prix, a slew of Honda drivers including Sebastien Bourdais and Graham Rahal have seen one or multiple runs in Indianapolis cut short by engine issues.

The late issue means Hinchcliffe, who ended the session in 14th, will likely start Sunday’s 500-mile race on a different motor than he’s used throughout the month leading up to it.

With two weeks of practice and qualifying complete, all that remains for the IndyCar paddock is Sunday’s Indy 500. The ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ will air at 11 a.m. ET Sunday on ABC and on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Results, via INDYCAR

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