Jay Howard sails through north chute during Indy 500 practice
Photo: Matt Fraver / INDYCAR

Following a day of high winds that led to limited laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Thursday’s practice for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 was a welcome return to speed with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Jay Howard turning the fastest lap.

Howard’s best lap came early, the ninth of 86 revolutions of the 2.5-mile oval by the No. 77 Honda. The 226.744 mph lap bested Marco Andretti’s fast lap in Practice 1 and set the mark to beat through the first four days of on-track activity ahead of the Indy 500.

Ryan Hunter-Reay put his Andretti Autosport-prepared Honda second on the speed chart with a 225.826 mph lap, coincidentally also on his ninth lap turned.

Fernando Alonso and Jay Howard into Turn 1 during Indy 500 practice
Photo: Doug Mathews / INDYCAR

Marco Andretti and Fernando Alonso locked out the top four for the Andretti team with both drivers over 225 mph.

Josef Newgarden ended the day as the fastest driver backed by Chevrolet, pushing the No. 2 Team Penske machine to a speed of 225.455 mph.

Sage Karam, driving the No. 24 for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, put another bowtie-badged race car near the top of the speed chart with the sixth-fastest lap.

The remainder of the 10 fastest speeds were dominated by Honda with Charlie Kimball, Oriol Servia, Takuma Sato and Sebastien Bourdais filling positions seven through 10.

Sato, Honda Dominate No-Tow Speeds

Takuma Sato practices for the 2017 Indy 500
Photo: Walter Kuhn / INDYCAR

Sato, ninth fastest with the assistance of a tow, laid down the fastest no-tow lap in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda with a speed of 224.734 mph.

Kimball, Graham Rahal and Hunter-Reay filled the next three spots on the no-tow speed chart, all backed by Honda power.

Ed Carpenter, outside the top 10 tow-assisted laps, ended Thursday as the fastest Chevrolet without a tow. The 224.051 mph lap placed him fifth on the no-tow leaderboard.

Scott Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power, Alonso and JR Hildebrand completed the top 10 on the no-tow list.

Newgarden Experiences Hard Hit in Turn 1

With Jack Harvey’s incident on Monday the only contact of note throughout the first three days of practice, Newgarden added his name to the list of those who have encountered the SAFER Barrier with a spin and hard hit in Turn 1.

The spin continued with Newgarden ending up on the inside of Turn 2 following further right front contact with the wall. His car suffered significant damage to the left front, left rear and right front. The first-year Team Penske driver was able to climb out of the No. 2 without assistance from the Holmatro Safety Team.

“I’m fine,” said Newgarden after the incident. “Tough break for us in the (No.) 2 car with Team Penske.

“It’s obviously not something you want to do, especially on a day like today — a pretty nice day out, no big issues. I’m disappointed that we ran into a problem.

“I just got called into the pits, so I was coming in and I didn’t want to check up too much for the guys behind me and cause a problem. It just seemed to get away from me.”

Newgarden was checked and released from the IU Health Emergency Medical Center and cleared to drive.

Practice will resume at IMS on Friday from noon to 6 p.m. EDT with cars granted additional boost to prepare for qualifying, set for Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21.

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