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Welcome Back: Howard Turns Top Lap of Week To Lead Busy Practice Thursday

This was a day six years in the making for Jay Howard.

British driver Howard, preparing for his first Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil start since 2011, produced the fastest lap of a busy practice Thursday with a top speed of 226.744 mph in the No. 77 Lucas Oil/Team One Cure Honda at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was the fastest lap of the four days of practice this week.

View Practice 4 Results | View Combined Practice Results

Honda-powered Andretti Autosport drivers took the next three spots on a sunny day with air temperatures approaching 90 degrees and track temperatures nearing 130 degrees on the 2.5-mile oval.

2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was second at 225.826 in the No. 28 DHL Honda. Marco Andretti, who led Opening Day practice Monday, was third today at 225.709 in the No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda.

Two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso continued to make fast progress in his oval racing education, ending up fourth overall at 225.619 in the No. 29 McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda.

Josef Newgarden was the fastest Chevrolet-powered driver, fifth overall at 225.455 in the No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

That lap came before Newgarden crashed 71 minutes into the six-hour session. He did a half-spin exiting Turn 1 and made hard contact with the SAFER Barrier with the left front and left side of his car. The car continued to spin in the short chute between Turns 1 and before hitting the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 with the right front of the car and stopping inside Turn 2, with significant damage.

Newgarden climbed from the car without assistance from the Holmatro Safety Team and was checked and released at the IU Health Emergency Medical Center at the track and cleared to drive.

Track activity spiked today after a quiet, windy Wednesday. All 33 drivers named to cars combined to turn 2,362 laps today, including the Month of May debut by 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier. It was the second-busiest day of the week, topped only by the 2,404 laps completed Tuesday.

While numerous drivers tested their setups in dense thickets of traffic, Takuma Sato was the fastest driver without the benefit of an aerodynamic tow. Sato’s top non-tow lap was 224.734 mph in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda, another show of strength from the team that claimed three of the top four spots overall on the speed charts.

Speeds should increase tomorrow during the Fast Friday practice, when every engine receives extra boost, which creates more horsepower. That boost will continue through both days of qualifying Saturday and Sunday.

Practice continues from noon-6 p.m. (ET) on Fast Friday. The 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil is scheduled for noon (ET) Sunday, May 28.

Visit IMS.com to purchase tickets for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on Sunday, May 28 and for more information on the complete Month or May schedule at IMS.

The race also will be televised live on ABC, with the pre-race show starting at 11 a.m. (ET). Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio will provide live coverage of the race to its affiliates and on Sirius 212, XM 209 and SXM 970.

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Jay Howard
 
Welcome Back: Howard Turns Top Lap of Week To Lead Busy Practice Thursday
British driver Howard, preparing for his first Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil start since 2011, produced the fastest lap of a busy practice Thursday with a top speed of 226.744 mph in the No. 77 Lucas Oil/Team One Cure Honda at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was the fastest lap of the four days of practice this week.
Read More
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