2017 Indianapolis 500, IndyCar notebook: Helio Castroneves fastest in final Indy 500 practice

By The Sports Xchange
Three time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves speeds through the north short chute during Carb Day final practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Castroneves was fastest at 227.377 MPH. Photo by Bill Coons/UPI
1 of 2 | Three time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves speeds through the north short chute during Carb Day final practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Castroneves was fastest at 227.377 MPH. Photo by Bill Coons/UPI | License Photo

INDIANAPOLIS -- Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves set the pace in Friday's final practice before Sunday's 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Driving the No. 3 Shell Fuel Rewards Team Penske Chevrolet, Castroneves led the traditional Miller Lite Carb Day session with a lap of 227.377 mph as all 33 competitors turned laps in preparation for the race. Castroneves will start 19th in the race as he attempts to join fellow Indy car legends A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as the only four-time winners.


"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," said Castroneves, who in his 20th Indy car season will be making his 17th Indy 500 start.


Castroneves was followed on the speed chart by Takuma Sato in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda (226.802 mph) and 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan (226.757) in the No. 10 NTT Data Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing. A total of 960 laps were completed in the hour-long session as teams honed in on race-day setups a final time before Sunday's 200-lap race on the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

"The car felt really good, so that was a great sign because it's just no surprise," said Sato, who will start the race from the inside of Row 2. "You don't want to have any surprises on Carb Day because all the work you've done in the last week, this is the result. We have a (good) car and will be ready for Sunday."

Scott Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 winner and this year's pole sitter, was fourth at 226.685 mph in the No. 9 Camping World Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing. Right behind the four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion was Fernando Alonso, the two-time Formula One champion bypassing that series' Monaco Grand Prix to compete in his first Indy 500.


Alonso's top lap in the No. 29 McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda was 226.608 mph.

"It was very smooth," Alonso said. "The car felt the best so far in the last two weeks, so extremely happy with the car. I was there making some moves, some different lines ... so I was practicing that.

"The car felt great. Today I think we put all the ticks in all the boxes and extremely happy."

The practice featured two minor incidents. Conor Daly, in the No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet, made light contact with the inside wall on the front straight of the 2.5-mile oval to bring out a caution flag. Soon after, 2016 pole sitter James Hinchcliffe slowed on the back straight when smoke erupted from his No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. Neither driver was injured.

Carb Day practice was the final on-track activity before the 200-lap race on the 2.5-mile oval to determine whose likeness will be next added to the Borg-Warner Trophy. Live coverage of the 101st Indianapolis 500 begins at 11 a.m. ET Sunday on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network.

Leist wins Indy Lights Freedom 100


Matheus Leist led all 40 laps to win Friday's Freedom 100, the premier Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race of the season, on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. It was the 18-year-old Brazilian's first series victory.

The 2016 British Formula 3 champion driving for Carlin in Indy Lights, Leist won by 0.7760 of a second over Aaron Telitz of Belardi Auto Racing.

"I think we had just a perfect car today," said Leist, driver of the No. 26 Carlin Mazda/Dallara IL-15. "I thought that I would have the hardest race, definitely. We managed it throughout the whole race and now very happy. The car was perfect throughout the whole race, so we managed to keep in front."

Power's crew wins TAG Heuer Pit Stop Competition

Will Power's Verizon Team Penske crew won the TAG Heuer Pit Stop Competition, defeating James Hinchcliffe's Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew in a best-of-three final this afternoon. The crew splits $50,000 among the total $100,000 purse offered to participating teams.

Ten crews competed in the contest. Hinchcliffe's crew defeated defending champion Helio Castroneves' Team Penske crew in the quarterfinals and Graham Rahal's Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing crew in the semifinals.


Power's crew reached the finals by defeating the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew of Mikhail Aleshin in the quarterfinals and the Chip Ganassi Racing crew of Scott Dixon in the semifinals.

The competition featured the best-of-three final for the first time. Power's crew won the first round and Hinchcliffe's the second before Power's crew logged the best time of anyone in the contest, 11.619 seconds, in the deciding showdown.

"These guys, all the teams, all the crews on all the cars at Team Penske work very hard in the offseason practicing pit stops and working out," Power said. "They're all fit and they're all ready to go. That was an example of four or five perfect pit stops, no mistakes."

Dixon to be featured in documentary

Scott Dixon, the pole sitter for Sunday's 101st Indianapolis 500 and 2008 winner of the race for Chip Ganassi Racing, will be the subject of a feature-length documentary co-produced by GFC Films and United Pictures Home Entertainment.

The documentary, which is currently untitled and scheduled for release in 2018, will focus on Dixon's dedication, success and will to defy personal limitations in his racing career. Dixon has 40 career Indy car wins, fourth on the all-time list, and is a four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion.


"To see his name near the top of the all-time winners' list is a testament to the man," team owner Chip Ganassi at today's announcement said. "Someone needs to know that story and I think we're very fortunate to have the people interested in making this a documentary."

Filming will take place at the Indianapolis 500 and other Verizon IndyCar Series events, as well as with CGR's successful sports car program, of which Dixon is a part at endurance races including the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans.

"I feel very fortunate," Dixon said. "I'm very passionate about racing, I love driving cars, I love racing and I love racing with the best team in the world. I'm lucky enough to do Indianapolis 500s, IndyCar races, going to Le Mans.

"I think the story with what we do and how we do it, and a lot of people don't get to see behind the scenes with big races like the Indianapolis 500 and Le Mans. It's going to be really cool. I feel very proud and very special to be a part of it."

Matthew Metcalfe, whose credits include the soon-to-be-released "McLaren" and "Beyond the Edge," is the Dixon documentary's producer. Metcalfe stressed that the documentary will reach into the emotional aspects of the sport that make racing what it is.


"That's what this film is going to be about," Metcalfe said, "the will to win, the drive to win, about guts, determination and just sheer hard work."

"McLaren," the incredible true story of motorsports legend and engineering visionary Bruce McLaren, will make its U.S. premiere in a special screening for motorsports VIPs tonight at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis.

The eagerly awaited film recounts the New Zealander's life from humble beginnings at his father's auto shop in Auckland, to revolutionizing Formula One racing by becoming the youngest driver to win an F1 race, to his death at 32 in a racing accident. Featuring interviews from his closest friends and family members, the documentary is an unprecedented window into the life of a true genius.

The film's rollout will continue with the premiere in Michigan's Henry Ford Big Screen Experience at Cinetopia Film Festival on June 2. Additional targeted events across the country are being planned throughout the summer, with a digital release scheduled to launch after the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in August.

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