Story by Patrick Reynolds AP Photo/R Brent Smith

Final Indianapolis 500 Practice

Chevrolet powered Tony Kanaan led the way in the final practice session for the 100th Indianapolis 500. Chevy and Honda engines each powered five cars in the top-ten quickest speeds with an even split between the two manufacturers.

Kanaan drives for Chip Ganassi Racing while Andretti Autosports’ Carlos Munoz in a Honda was second.

The flavor of the session was one of intensity. Drivers ran in packs, drafted, and passed often- looking as if it was in the 500’s closing laps instead of practice.

Kanaan said,”we don’t need to save engines or anything on Carb Day anymore, which used to be the case.

“This is the closest that we get to the race. After being here for almost a month the engineers come up with different plans every day. The more time you give them, the more you come up with stuff. Five days without being on track so they go back to the shop and do simulations and come up with new stuff so we had to test. I think everybody is feeling how the car behaves in traffic. It was a race out there today, that’s for sure,” said Kanaan.

Munoz said, “Monday (practice) we knew it was going to be a really busy day- pack racing. Today as well was a pack day.

“No one wants to lead in the front,” said Munoz about the groups of cars in practice. “In the last few minutes, no one wants to lead. Everyone wants to go to the back of the field; try to carve out- it was really intense.”

“Some guys popping out in four or two (abreast). It was really risky,” Munoz said.

Pippa Mann spun in turn four and damaged her car as she contacted the outside wall with the right rear wheel. She was checked at the Indiana University medical center and cleared to race in the 500. The Dale Coyne Racing team faced extended repair work to be ready for Sunday.

Scott Dixon was third-quickest followed by Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Alexander Rossi, JR Hildebrand, Oriol Servia, Townsend Bell, and Helio Castroneves completed the ten quickest lap speeds.

With the checkered flag waving and all drivers returning to pit road, the next time the cars will see the track will be in Sunday’s 500.

Eighteenth-starting Kanaan said, “I’m happy with my car. Obviously I have to pass 17 people before I’m really happy with my car.”

Indy Lights Freedom 100

The race kept its exciting reputation by generating the speedway’s closest finish with a .0024 victory for Dean Stoneman over Ed Jones.

For several seasons, the 100-mile contest has produced some thrilling finishes including a four-wide checkered flag in 2013.

This year’s ending was set up by a late caution period when Heamin Choi spun against the track’s south short chute wall and stopped in turn two.  At that point Stoneman was leading, Juan Piedrahita was second and Jones was third.

As the field accelerated towards tandem green and white flags, Piedrahita made contact with Stoneman which caused the former’s car to slow. The field scrambled and Jones jumped to second and then passed Stoneman for the lead into turn one. Stoneman pulled to the outside of Jones entering turn three with the duo running sidepod to sidepod through the final two corners and the tight drag race down the frontstretch to the checkered flag.

Winner Stoneman said, “I got hit on the restart and that other car (Piedrahita) behind me caught my left rear. But I knew in the race I was consistent and I knew how to get to the (finish) line and knew where I could position my car to finish the race in the lead.”

Runner-up Jones said, “Once Dean got past the first time for the majority of the race it was just sitting behind him just to wait for the last few laps. The safety car period (late restart) changed things up a little bit. Coming into that last lap, white and green… Dean I think… I’m not sure if he tried to like drag the brake and brake check on the straight because then Piedrahita went off. But I still got the run on him and passed him in turn one.

“Going down into (turn) three we didn’t have maybe as much top speed as the whole race,” said Jones. “I probably chose the wrong lane. It’s my fault. I feel like if I had the outside maybe I’d have held a bit more momentum and been able to hold him off. Unfortunately I made the wrong call and that’s what cost us.”

The Freedom 100 began with Kyle Kaiser hitting the outside turn four wall during the first lap under green to bring out the event’s first caution flag.

RC Enerson and Zach Veach made contact in turn two on lap 12 with both continuing. Veach finished 10th and Enerson 11th.

Early passing settled into some single file racing through the middle stages. Stoneman led at halfway over Jones, Shelby Blackstock, Piedrahita and Santiago Urrutia.

On lap 25 Piedrahita charged up to third. Shortly thereafter Jones made a pass for the lead but Stoneman regained control by the time the field was scored at the start-finish line.

Urrutia spun in turn two to bring out another yellow on lap 30. He then had mechanical problems after returning to pit lane.

The race went green until Choi’s crash which set up the one lap charge, and the closest Indianapolis Speedway finish.

“It’s going to take me a few days to get over that,” said second place Jones.

Behind Stoneman and Jones were Dalton Kellett, Blackstock, and Scott Hargrove. Sixth through tenth were Felix Serralles, Neil Aberico, Piedrahita, Felix Rosenqvist, and Veach.

Indycar Pit Stop Competition

Helio Castroneves defeated Mikhail Aleshin in the final- 12.235 seconds to 19.381 for Team Penske’s 16th win in the competition. That makes nine of the last 11 pit stop wins for The Captain.

Carb Day Notes

  • The Indianapolis Motor Speedway went green at 11am sharp for final 500 practice. It went yellow a few moments later as an oil spill was detected on the track from vintage cars laps earlier in the day. The session was extended 10 minutes to allow the teams the allotted time.
  • The Speedway estimated the Carb Day crowd to be around 100,000.
  • “I’m amazed at how many people are here today. I thought out of my 15 years, I have seen it all here and clearly I didn’t,” Kanaan said.
  • Thursday Freedom 100 qualifying was rained out after only eight of the 16 drivers made attempts and the field set by series standings. Championship leader Jones started from the pole.
  • Thursday morning’s scheduled three-hour Indy Lights practice was cut short and qualifying moved up about two hours in an attempt to beat the incoming rain. The weather moved in too quickly to complete the on-track activities.
  • Lilly Diabetes announced on Thursday that they would be raising their level of support to co-primary sponsor of Dale Coyne Racing’s 500 entry, driven by Conor Daly. Daly has Type I Diabetes. One in four United States Veterans have Diabetes, far more than the national average. Lilly’s Indycar sponsorship over Memorial Day weekend is focused on bringing awareness to that fact.

100th Indianapolis 500 starting lineup

1. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 02:36.0063 (230.760)
2. (21) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 02:36.0470 (230.700)
3. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 02:36.0821 (230.648)
4. (29) Townsend Bell, Honda, 02:36.1950 (230.481)
5. (26) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 02:36.3264 (230.287)
6. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 02:36.7471 (229.669)
7. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 02:36.8205 (229.562)
8. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 02:37.1096 (229.139)
9. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 02:37.1265 (229.115)
10. (77) Oriol Servia, Honda, 02:37.1638 (229.060)
11. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 02:37.5679 (228.473)
12. (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, 02:37.8747 (228.029)
13. (9) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 02:37.9007 (227.991)
14. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 02:37.9161 (227.969)
15. (6) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 02:37.9809 (227.876)
16. (42) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 02:38.0180 (227.822)
17. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 02:38.1141 (227.684)
18. (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 02:38.2906 (227.430)
19. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 02:38.2919 (227.428)
20. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 02:38.4325 (227.226)
21. (19) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 02:38.4566 (227.192)
22. (8) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 02:38.8100 (226.686)
23. (24) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 02:38.9851 (226.436)
24. (18) Conor Daly, Honda, 02:39.0721 (226.312)
25. (63) Pippa Mann, Honda, 02:39.2877 (226.006)
26. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 02:39.4002 (225.847)
27. (61) Matt Brabham, Chevrolet, 02:39.4846 (225.727)
28. (88) Bryan Clauson, Honda, 02:39.8111 (225.266)
29. (16) Spencer Pigot, Honda, 02:40.1087 (224.847)
30. (25) Stefan Wilson, Chevrolet, 02:40.2833 (224.602)
31. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 02:40.2878 (224.596)
32. (4) Buddy Lazier, Chevrolet, 02:42.0498 (222.154)
33. (35) Alex Tagliani, Honda, No time (No speed)
Patrick Reynolds is a former professional NASCAR mechanic who hosts Speedway Report Mondays 7pm ET/ 4pm PT on www.racersreunionradio.com. Follow on Twitter @SpeedwayPat and @SpeedwayReport