Saturday April 20th, 2024 7:09AM

Sato leads final Indianapolis 500 practice on Carb Day

By IndyCar Media

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Takuma Sato was the fastest driver in Miller Lite Carb Day practice Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, leading the final session before the 107th Indianapolis 500.

Two-time “500” winner Sato led with a top lap of 39.4988 seconds, 227.855 mph in the No. 11 Honda. Sato, from Tokyo, will start eighth in the race Sunday.

“The 11 car is just getting to a nice feeling, which is exactly what I really wanted,” Sato said. “My boys did a fantastic job the entire week. The organization did fantastic, so I’m happy.”

All 33 starters combined to turn 2,355 laps (5,887.5 miles) in just two hours of incident-free track action.

Scott Dixon was second at 227.285 in breezy conditions under sunny skies and air temperatures in the low 70s. 2008 Indy 500 winner Dixon will start sixth Sunday, when the air temperature is expected to reach the high 70s.

“It didn’t start very well, to be honest,” Dixon said of the two-hour session. “The car was definitely off on balance. We had to work on it a bit. Definitely some strong competitors out there. But it was fun to run with the 21 (Rinus VeeKay), Pato (O’Ward) a little bit and then the 10 (Alex Palou).

“Where we ended was a big improvement, so good on that side of things. Again, I still think we’ve got more to find.”

Those discoveries will come on engineer’s laptops instead of at speed. The next time cars will be on track will be during the pace laps for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” at 12:45 p.m. Sunday on the 2.5-mile oval.

Will Power, the 2018 “500” winner, was third at 226.953. Power starts 12th Sunday. Pole sitter Alex Palou ended up fourth at 226.945, giving Chip Ganassi Racing three of the top four cars before a large, sun-soaked Miller Lite Carb Day crowd.

Kyle Kirkwood rounded out the top five at 226.872. Kirkwood will start 15th Sunday.

Ganassi, Dixon Win Pit Stop Challenge

Scott Dixon and the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda crew shared a $50,000 prize for winning the Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge on Friday afternoon.

Dixon and his CGR team, led by crew chief Tyler Rees, beat Will Power and the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet crew in three rounds in the best-of-three final. It was the fourth Pit Stop Challenge win for Ganassi and Dixon, who also won together in 2012, 2014 and 2018.

Power’s Team Penske crew will share $25,000 for finishing runner-up in the annual contest, which featured a record purse of $150,000 this year. Teams change all four tires and simulate fueling in the contest.

Dixon edged Power, 11.561 seconds to 12.047 seconds, in the first round. Power turned the tables in Round 2, edging a thrilling 11.829-11.947 victory. But Dixon and his crew – nicknamed “The Wolfpack – prevailed in the final, 11.012-12.552.

The last time the Pit Stop Challenge winner also won the Indianapolis 500 in the same year was 2009 with Helio Castroneves and Team Penske.

WDUN will carry live on-air coverage of the busy racing weekend, beginning with PRN Radio coverage of Saturday's NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 300 from Charlotte Motor Speedway at noon on 102.9 FM and streaming live on AccessWDUN. On Sunday, coverage moves to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for IndyCar Radio Network coverage of the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 beginning at noon on 102.9 FM, at 1 pm on AM 550 and streaming live on AccessWDUN.  Race day wraps up with PRN Radio coverage of the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte Motor Speedway beginning at 5 pm on 102.9 FM, AM 550 and streaming live on AccessWDUN.

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