Pagenaud Fastest Without Tow Ahead of Pole Day Qualifying

Simon Pagenaud enters south chute at IMS
Simon Pagenaud's 229.409 mph no-tow speed topped Practice 7 ahead of Pole Day qualifying. | Photo: Mike Harding / INDYCAR

Team Penske’s four drivers were the only ones to take advantage of the dedicated Fast 9 segment of Practice 7 with Simon Pagenaud fastest of the quartet.

Pagenaud only turned seven laps in the session and found his best speed on his third revolution of the 2.5-mile oval. The 229.409 mph lap put him more than 0.2 mph clear of second-fastest Helio Castroneves.

Castroneves ran 23 laps in his No. 3 Pennzoil Chevrolet but could do no better than 229.193 mph on his 12th lap.

Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden placed third with a 229.086 mph no-tow speed followed by Will Power at 229.053 mph.

Earlier, Ryan Hunter-Reay topped the Group 1 segment for drivers who qualified in the 10th through 33rd positions. With a tow, his speed in the No. 28 DHL Honda was 230.507 mph although he ranked only 14th on the no-tow list with a speed of 227.497 mph.

Teammates Marco Andretti and Alexander Rossi joined Hunter-Reay in locking out the top three outright speeds in Group 1 for Andretti Autosport, but it was AJ Foyt Racing’s Chevrolets that topped the no-tow speeds.

Matheus Leist was fastest with a 228.484 mph lap followed by his teammate Tony Kanaan, whose 228.369 mph no-tow lap ranked second in Group 1. The Hondas of Robert Wickens, Andretti and Jay Howard completed the top five Group 1 no-tow speeds.

Group 1 will be back on track for qualifying from 2:45–4:45 p.m. EDT. Each car will get one attempt at a four-lap run to set their place on the grid. From 5–5:45 p.m., the drivers in the Fast 9 will each aim for the pole position with their own four-lap runs. At the conclusion of both sessions, the starting grid will be set for the 2018 Indianapolis 500, set to go green on May 27 at 12:21 p.m.

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