The final 1-hour Verizon IndyCar Series practice session prior to Sunday's Indianapolis 500 took the green flag just after 11 o'clock, and it was a busy one. All 33-car turned laps, totalling 1,441. 9.5% more than last year's Carb Day.
Ganassi teammates Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon were quickest at 227.838 and 227.773 mph, respectively. Townsend Bell, Helio Castroneves, Mikhail Aleshin, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Alex Tagliani, Juan Pablo Montoya and Josef Newgarden rounded out the top 10.
The only yellow flag of the session dropped at 11:34 when rookie Sage Karam exited Turn 4 too high and made slight contact with the wall. Close to spinning, Karam regained control before major damage. Any suspension issues will be fixed and likely a new fire suit for Karam will be ready for Sunday.
Ryan Hunter-Reay's session ended a bit early when an engine leak was discovered and a vibration in Andretti Autosport teammate Jame Hinchcliffe's No. 27 was found in the closing minutes of practice.
The green flag for the crown jewel of the Indy Lights season, the Freedom 100, was dropped just after 12:30. 11-cars, led by Luiz Razia took the flag.
15-laps into the 40-lap race, Belardi Auto Racing's Chase Austin lost control of his No. 0 Dallara entering Turn 1. Nearly regaining control, Austin's car slid sideways towards the inside of the Turn 1/Turn 2 Short Chute with the front end making side contact with a tire barrier. The car pivoted and contacted the concrete wall at a very high rate of speed, destroying the chassis. Austin was helped out of the car and into an ambulance where he was transported to the infield care center. According to Dr. Olinger, Austin never lost consciousness and suffered a fractured left wrist. He was transported to Methodist Hospital for further evaluation.
Following an 8-lap caution, the race went back to green and stayed that way through the checkered. Belardi Auto Racing's Gabby Chavez was 2nd coming out of Turn 4 on the last lap, but caught a draft from leader Matthew Brabham and took the win by five one thousands' of a second (.005).
Tag Heuer Pit Stop Competition
The Pit Stop Competition has ran 11 times over the last 12 years ('08 canceled/rain) and only 1 non-Indy 500 winning driver has won (Briscoe '11). That streak continued in 2014, as Target Chip Ganassi Racing's No. 9 crew of Scott Dixon took the Tag Heuer Pit Stop Competition and the $50,000 prize.
Sage Karam and his one-off Dreyer & Reinbold team finished 2nd in the 12-team, 4 round competition.
The win was the 2nd all-time for a Ganassi-owned squad and the 2nd in three years. Dixon, who won in 2012 joins Helio Castroneves (6), Danny Sullivan (4), Al Unser Jr. (3), Scott Goodyear (2), Rick Mears (2), Johnny Rutherford (2), Jacques Villeneuve (2), and Buddy Rice (2) as multiple time winners.
Useless piece of information for the day
8 of the 24 (33%) returning drivers from last year's '500' switched their winning milk preference. Townsend Bell, Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Saavedra changed from No Preference to Whole. Scott Dixon and Oriol Servia made the switch from Whole to 2%. Carlos Munoz and Justin Wilson were 2% in 2013 and Fat Free this year while Ed Carpenter Carpenter changed it up from 2% to Whole in the off season. The other 9 drivers are made up of 7 rookies (Aleshin, Busch, Davison, Hawksworth, Huertas, Karam & Plowman) and 2 veteran drivers who did not compete in last year's race (Montoya & Villeneuve).