By IndyCar Media
INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, May 19, 2021) – Scott Dixon may be known as “The Iceman,” but perhaps nobody is better in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES when the heat is on.
Six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Dixon led practice Wednesday for the 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge with a best lap of 226.829 mph in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda as track and air temperatures climbed compared to Opening Day Tuesday. 2008 Indy 500 winner Dixon led three Chip Ganassi Racing drivers in the top five.
“I felt like I was a little more comfortable yesterday,” said Dixon, who was the eighth fastest Tuesday at 224.988. “Obviously, track conditions are different. The wind direction, especially (Turns) 2 to 4, swaps pretty big. The track temp was up today.
“Once it gets a bit hotter, I think everybody has a bit of washout, and it’s harder to stay closer. We’ll see with the race, but it looks right now like the race will be pretty cool, which will definitely make for a pretty robust race for people to watch. It’s going to be tight.”
Race Day is Sunday, May 30 at the 2.5-mile oval.
Ed Carpenter Racing drivers took the second and third spots on the speed chart Wednesday. Conor Daly was second at 226.372 in the No. 47 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, while team owner Ed Carpenter was third at 226.103 in the No. 20 SONAX Chevrolet.
ECR is surging during the Month of May, as Rinus VeeKay won the GMR Grand Prix for the team last Saturday.
Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Marcus Ericsson and Tony Kanaan rounded out the top five. Ericsson was fourth at 226.007 in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. 2013 Indy 500 winner Kanaan ended up fifth at 225.774 in the No. 48 The American Legion Honda.
“There are so many competitive cars out there, so, as always, it’s going to be a very tough race,” Dixon said. “Happy all the Ganassi cars are fast. Nice to see the 9 up top.”
The speed charts showed the unpredictable and competitive nature of this year’s deep field, which features nine “500” winners. 2018 Indy 500 winner Will Power, who led practice Tuesday at 226.470 mph, was 15th today at 224.785 in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet.
All the top speeds today came with the benefit of aerodynamic tows in heavy traffic, as 34 drivers combined to turn 3,326 laps during the six-hour session. 2016 Indy winner Alexander Rossi was the fastest driver running alone, turning a top no-tow lap of 221.114 mph in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda.
“We had a good car yesterday from the get-go, but overnight we worked on trying to get the car a bit better in dirty air and in a big group, and that’s been a big improvement today,” Ericsson said. “I feel like I can stay on the throttle in big groups, and that’s the key around here.”
RC Enerson completed Phase 2 and the speed requirement for Phase 3 of the Rookie Orientation Program in the No. 75 Top Gun Racing Chevrolet in a special session before the track opened for practice. Enerson didn’t participate in the open practice.
Practice resumes from noon-6 p.m. (ET) Thursday. It’s the last day before boost levels are elevated in the engine turbochargers for Fast Friday practice and Crown Royal Armed Forces Qualifying on Saturday and Sunday, with the additional horsepower raising speeds.
Photo: Matt Fraver/IndyCar Media