Practice for the Indianapolis 500 was cut short Friday when a piece of a brick from the yard of bricks at the start-finish line came loose and struck Mario Moraes' car.
The incident didn't cause extensive damage to the No. 5 KV Racing Technology Dallara-Honda, but it did leave a hole in the track and bring an end to a busy session about 20 minutes before its scheduled conclusion.
“I think that's a first for us around here,” said Brian Barnhart, the Indy Racing League’s chief operating officer who made the decision to end the practice early to facilitate repairs. “We're awfully proud of the Yard of Bricks around here, and I think that's the first time it's caused a delay in practice."
Friday's session, the last before Saturday's third day of qualifying to fill the final 11 positions on the 33-car starting grid, was busy for those who have and haven't qualified for the May 24 race. Scott Dixon had the fastest lap of the day -- 222.799 mph -- while Townsend Bell was fastest among the non-qualifiers at 222.139 mph in the No. 8 KVRT entry.
“I've had the chance to run a couple of times here before, and it's nice,” Bell said. “Each time you come a little bit smarter in terms of what you need to have a good run on (race day). I'm pretty happy with where we are. We had a chance to sort of inch our way toward more of qualifying setup on the last run. The car's obviously quick, and I'm really excited about getting it into the field tomorrow."
Other non-qualifiers who looked strong included Oriol Servia, who turned a lap of 221.140 mph in the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Dallara-Honda, and Robert Doornbos, who was clocked at 220.804 mph in the No. 06T Newman/Haas/Lanigan entry after a crash kept him out of qualifying last weekend.
“It was our plan to forget about tomorrow and work on the race car, but to be honest, it was always in the back of my mind because we are in a strange situation,” Doornbos said. “We have a fast car, but we are not qualified. You just want to make sure you are in the show and then you start working on the race car.”
Bell, Servia and Doornbos are expected to be the chief competitors for the 23rd starting position when qualifying resumes Saturday at noon ET. Positions 23 through 33 are open; the first 22 positions were filled last weekend.
Those who have already secured starting positions spent Friday working on race setups. Before the trouble with the brick, Moraes had the second-best lap of the day, 222.530 mph.
“On my last lap, I went across the start/finish line and sucked up a brick, which damaged my car and ended my day,” Moraes said. “I feel bad for the crew because they are going to have to do some extra work tonight.”
Pole winner Helio Castroneves had the fourth-best lap of the day in his T-car, followed by Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe, also in his T-car.
We got a lot done today in the Team Penske car,” Castroneves said. “We were able to run about 100 laps out there, so we got about half a race in. We are trying new things here and there to prepare for race day. We're going to continue to work, and I feel really good with what we've accomplished so far."
Alex Tagliani and Tomas Scheckter also were fast among the non-qualifiers, with Tagliani recording a lap of 220.804 mph in the No. 34T Conquest Racing entry. Scheckter, in his first laps in the No. 19 Dale Coyne car, posted a lap of 220.516 mph. Scheckter has been reunited with engineer Bill Pappas, who worked with Scheckter at Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 2003.
“I like what Dale (Coyne) has done with the team and Justin (Wilson) has done in the car,” Scheckter said. “I'm confident (Pappas) can give me a good car, and what's also good is that we don't have to build a relationship. We understand each other. Hopefully we can get up to speed quickly and start moving the program forward.”
Action resumes Saturday morning with an hour-long practice session before the six-hour qualifying session.
Pos. Car# Driver Chassis-Engine Speed
1. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 222.799
2. (5) Mario Moraes, Dallara-Honda, 222.530
3. (8) Townsend Bell, Dallara-Honda, 222.139
4. (3T) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 221.699
5. (6T) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 221.567
6. (10) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 221.192
7. (17) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 221.140
8. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 221.063
9. (11T) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 220.924
10. (06T) Robert Doornbos, Dallara-Honda, 220.804
11. (34T) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 220.804
12. (2T) Raphael Matos, Dallara-Honda, 220.781
13. (02) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 220.677
14. (27) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 220.668
15. (19) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 220.516
16. (4) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 220.510
17. (41) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 220.379
18. (12T) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 220.255
19. (67) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, 220.193
20. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 219.735
21. (44) Davey Hamilton, Dallara-Honda, 219.699
22. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 219.570
23. (43) John Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 219.551
24. (13) E.J. Viso, Dallara-Honda, 219.530
25. (21T) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 219.517
26. (98) Stanton Barrett, Dallara-Honda, 219.499
27. (99) Alex Lloyd, Dallara-Honda, 219.336
28. (24) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 219.234
29. (91) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Honda, 219.190
30. (23) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 218.367
31. (00) Nelson Philippe, Dallara-Honda, 217.956