A Honda-powered car ended the fourth day of practice for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on top of the timesheet for the third consecutive session with Gabby Chaves turning the fastest tow-assisted lap in Practice 4.
- RESULTS: 2016 Indianapolis 500 Practice 4
Chaves’ best lap around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval was 227.961 mph. For the 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year, having a Honda with the fastest lap of the day demonstrates the hard work that the brand has put in after trailing Chevrolet since the season-opener at St. Petersburg.
“It’s only practice but it feels pretty good,” said Chaves. “It’s my first time at the top of the charts here at IMS in an Indy car.
“Just pleased with the work the team has been doing, very pleased with the performance that Honda has been putting out as well. Overall I think we’ve got a pretty strong package.”
Just behind Chaves on the leaderboard with the second-fastest tow-assisted lap was Townsend Bell in the No. 29 Andretti Autosport Honda with a speed of 227.593 mph. The one-off Indianapolis 500 driver and NBCSN IndyCar analyst was also impressed with Honda’s showing early in the month of May.
“It’s almost weird because two months ago it was all about, ‘Oh my gosh, Chevy is just dominating,’ and Honda has just done a phenomenal job to keep their heads down, keep working and they’ve come here very well-prepared,” said Bell. “I’m super proud to be in one of their cars. It’s been neat.”
Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz, Dale Coyne Racing’s Conor Daly, and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball rounded out the top five fastest speeds with Kimball the quickest Chevrolet.
With qualifying quickly approaching, Friday’s six-hour practice will see the boost level of the twin-turbocharged V6 engines increased by 10 kilopascals to 140 kPa across the board, expected to grant competitors an additional 30 horsepower. The effect of aerodynamic tow, while critical in the race, means little in the single-car time trials scheduled for May 21-22.
Will Power turned the fastest no-tow lap of the session with a speed of 225.381 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet.
“We had some good runs out there today,” said Power. “We definitely made some gains and have a little bit more to go, as we’re still making adjustments for the coming days. I’m pretty confident that the Verizon Chevrolet will be in good shape for qualifying.”
Graham Rahal had the second-fastest no-tow lap in the No. 15 Honda with defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon third fastest and 2015 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya fourth fastest.
“The Verizon Chevy ran well today,” said Montoya. “We had a little bit of a problem there earlier, but we made some changes and were able to make progress towards the end of practice. We’re getting up to speed, ending practice much faster than we did previously.
“Honestly, I’m very happy with where we’re going right now.”
Though 33 cars are present in the results, only 32 drivers officially turned laps in the session; Marco Andretti ran 65 laps in his No. 27 Honda and three in the No. 98 driven by rookie teammate Alexander Rossi.
After sustaining heavy damage in a practice crash on Wednesday, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team spent most of the day repairing Spencer Pigot’s No. 16 Honda. The 2015 Indy Lights champion performed an installation lap in the rebuilt car near the end of practice.
Friday’s practice will once again follow the noon-6 p.m. EDT schedule. Teams and drivers will have one more chance to perfect their setups in a two-hour morning practice on Saturday before qualifying begins at 11 a.m. The nearly seven-hour session will set the provisional grid and lock in the drivers that will compete in the Fast Nine Shootout. Qualifying continues on Sunday with positions 10-33 up for grabs from 2:45-4:45 p.m. followed by the Fast Nine Shootout from 5-5:45 p.m.