The skies finally cleared for practice for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 on Thursday, following a two-day weather-related break. All 40 entrants took to the track, recording a total of 2,394 laps, and the top 38 cars were separated by one second. With 12 minutes left in the six-hour session, IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power of Team Penske unseated Alex Tagliani atop the speed chart with a lap of 227.778mph, which now stands as the fastest lap of the month. The lap underscores that the switch from road and street courses hasn't shaken Power's hold at the top of the speed chart going into Saturday's Pole Day qualifying.
"We're happy with the racecar and we want to be on top on Saturday," said Power, who has started from the pole in all four IZOD IndyCar Series races.
Tagliani, driving the No. 77 Bower & Wilkins car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, had a quick lap of 227.652. Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe (227.217) and three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves (226.927) followed, and Townsend Bell in the No. 99 Herbalife Schmidt Pelfrey Racing car was fifth (226.741).
The lone incident of the day was a heavy crash for Simona de Silvestro. She was on her seventh lap of the session when sparks were seen trailing the No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy HVM Racing car entering Turn 3. The car made contact with the SAFER Barrier between Turns 3 and 4, spun and rode the wall backward before making a second hard contact with the SAFER Barrier and lower portion of the catch fence in Turn 4. The car slid down the track on its top, with flames surrounding it. The Holmatro Safety Team was on the scene within seconds to douse the flames and assist the 22-year-old driver from Switzerland (click here for the latest on her condition).