Jessica Hoffman Indianapolis Star Marco Andretti checks out his steering wheel during the Pit Stop Challenge on Carb Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hondas power up on Carb Day

Published: Saturday, May. 25, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6C
Last Modified: Tuesday, May. 28, 2013 - 10:22 am

INDIANAPOLIS – Ryan Hunter-Reay slid into a seat next to Simon Pagenaud and E.J. Viso after the final practice for the Indianapolis 500, and then started to rattle off what he had learned.

"The Hondas turned up their power," Hunter-Reay said, "which we were expecting."

"They always play that game," Viso added with a smirk.

"Yeah," Hunter-Reay said, elbowing Pagenaud in the ribs. "Why don't they do that all week?"

"I'm not the person to ask!" the Frenchman replied.

Hunter-Reay and Viso were among the fastest cars Friday, just as the Andretti Autosport teammates have been all week – and just as most of the Chevrolet-powered cars have been this month.

But what stuck out to Hunter-Reay was yet another rally by the Honda machines.

Pagenaud topped the chart with a fastest lap of 225.827 mph, and Honda had six of the 10 fastest cars on Carb Day. That performance raised comparisons to last year, when Chevrolet dominated all month but Dario Franchitti won on race day with a Honda engine.

"The Honda mentality is to go racing, and that's exactly what they're doing," Pagenaud said. "They've provided us with an engine that's clearly a lot better, and it's a good sign for the race."

Scott Dixon was fourth-fastest and Franchitti, his Ganassi teammate, was sixth. James Jakes was seventh, Katherine Legge was eighth and Alex Tagliani was 10th.

"We've got a car we can fight with," said Franchitti, who will start Sunday's race from the sixth row. "We're a lot closer and we're in the fight."

That's not to say there isn't plenty of power still in the Chevrolets.

After all, that's what Andretti is running.

Viso was second-fastest with a lap of 225.305 mph, and Hunter-Reay was third with a lap of 225.053 mph.

Sebastien Bourdais was fifth-quickest Friday for Dragon Racing, while Marco Andretti landed the third of Andretti Autosport's five Indy 500 entries in the fastest 10.

• In Friday's Freedom 100, Peter Dempsey made Indy history in the blink of an eye. The Irish native looked inside, then darted outside and outraced three other drivers down the front straightaway to win by 0.0026 seconds over Colombia's Gabby Chave – the closest oval finish ever on the world-famous 2.5-mile track.

• Fans will have to leave their big coolers of beer at home as part of tighter security at Sunday's big race. Speedway spokesman Doug Boles says new security steps are a response to the Boston Marathon bombing and are designed to control access to the speedway and ensure police know who's at the track.

INDY 500

• When: Sunday, 9 a.m.

• Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

• Distance: 500 miles, 200 laps

• TV: Pre-race, 8 a.m., Ch. 10

• Front row: Ed Carpenter, Carlos Munoz, Marco Andretti

• Defending champion: Dario Franchitti

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