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Dixon, Castroneves lead final Carb Day practice for the Indianapolis 500

Scott Dixon Scott Dixon - The Canadian Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves turned the fastest laps on Carb Day during final practice for the Indianapolis 500 on Friday, while pole sitter Scott McLaughlin and Team Penske teammates Josef Newgarden and Will Power had stress-free days.

Dixon and Castroneves, who have five Indy 500 wins between them, will start way back in the seventh row Sunday after their Honda-powered cars struggled to keep up with the Chevrolet might of Penske and the Arrow McLaren bunch in qualifying.

Yet in race setup, Chip Ganassi Racing and Meyer Shank Racing — along with Colton Herta and the rest of Andretti Global — have proven they can compete. Herta was fourth on the speed chart as Honda cars nailed down five of the six fastest laps Friday, and Pato O'Ward in third was the lone Chevrolet to break up the manufacturer stranglehold.

“It seems more level,” said Dixon, who had a fast lap of 227.206 mph, before adding: “Many times the fastest car doesn't win.”

It's difficult to guess how speed Friday will translate to Sunday, too, given the expected change in the weather. Carb Day dawned warm and sunny, but the forecast for the race calls for cooler temperatures and a strong chance of storms.

The dire forecast didn't dampen Castroneves' mood as he tries to win his record fifth Indianapolis 500.

“That was great. It was very, very good. Very strong,” he said. “I'm glad we had this practice and this weather. Hopefully we'll cross our fingers and the weather will hold on. We'll have some work to do in the race, but the whole vibe is incredible.”

It was an eventful final practice for Kyle Larson, the NASCAR star who is trying to become the second driver and first since Tony Stewart in 2001 to complete every lap of the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte on the same day.

Larson turned 74 laps during the two-hour practice, spending much of his time running in traffic — including a stint jockeying with Herta for position. Larson also spent a lot of time on pit stops, which are a bit different than they are in a stock car; during one of the practice stops, the left-front lug nut was loose when Larson took off, so he had to hit the brakes and get it fastened.

“I felt comfortable with all that,” said Larson, who will start in the middle of Row 2. “Felt like we checked a lot of boxes.”

Larson had a big cheering section amid a big Carb Day crowd, which also was treated to a pit-stop competition and a concert headlined by George Thorogood and The Destroyers. NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick, who partnered with Arrow McLaren to field the No. 17 car for Larson, flew his stock car crew to Indianapolis to watch Friday's practice.

“First, thank you to Mr. Hendrick and everyone at Arrow McLaren for giving us an opportunity to come experience this world,” said Cliff Daniels, who is Larson's crew chief in the Cup Series. “It's really special, and Kyle has obviously done a great job.”

It was not a smooth practice for everyone on the 33-car starting grid.

Conor Daly had a problem with his weight jacker, one of the tools that drivers can use to adjust the feel of their car. Marco Andretti and Christian Lundgaard, both with Andretti Global, complained that their cars had changed dramatically from their penultimate practice Monday: “I”m so far away," Lundgaard said at one point, “it's crazy.”

Santino Ferrucci, who will start on the outside of Row 2, had perhaps the toughest day of anyone. His car from A.J. Foyt Racing was so loose on his initial practice stint that the team pushed it back to Gasoline Alley twice during the session to make changes.

“It's just not where we want it,” Ferrucci said. “The boys are really hustling. I'm really counting on them.”

Meanwhile, the Team Penske trio that locked out the front row in qualifying sounded pleased with their day. McLaughlin said the No. 3 team was “just ticking things off the list,” while Power called an end to his practice session early.

“It'll be about executing,” Power said simply. “No mistakes.”


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