Takuma Sato was fastest at the conclusion of the third day of practice on Thursday for the 106th Running of the Indianapolis.
The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner managed to find the speed in the final hour of practice, putting down 117 laps with the session-best pace of 227.519 mph (39.5572s) in the No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing Honda.
Six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon sat atop the leaderboard for the majority of the day, with his fastest time set on only his sixth lap around Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In the end, though, the pace of the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda fell just 0.0319s off and relegated to second.
Rookie David Malukas backed up his strong performance from second practice earlier in the week with another on Thursday, ending third in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports Honda.
The chain of Hondas was broken by JR Hildebrand, who put the No. 11 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet fourth at 226.846 mph.
Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson continued to earn his rookie stripes in an Indy car at The Brickyard, logging a session-most 153 laps and placing fifth on the timesheets with a fast lap of 226.409 mph in the final hour.
Pato O’Ward and the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet team opted out of the final hour of practice, but was still quick enough to end the day sixth. Marcus Ericsson was seventh, followed by fellow Swede and O’Ward’s teammate Felix Rosenqvist in eighth.
Simon Pagenaud and Ed Carpenter rounded out the rest of the top 10.
The fastest on the no-tow list belonged to the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet of Will Power at 224.325 mph. Rinus VeeKay, Carpenter, Alexander Rossi and Scott McLaughlin completed the rest of the top five.
There were no incidents on the day, with the only cautions coming out for track inspections. However, there were some near misses and none perhaps closer than that of Romain Grosjean, who had a couple of moments at different times. One of the more significant came when he entered Turn 1 and appeared to get the No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda on the light inside curbing under the apron, where upon the touch the car instantly drifted up the track. Fortunately, the ex-Formula 1 driver was able to regain control and continue on.
Practice for this year’s edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on May 29 continues Friday, 12-6 p.m. ET, and will feature an increase in speeds as drivers and teams prepare for a rise in horsepower boost courtesy of IndyCar. Additionally, following practice at 6:15 p.m., will be the draw to decide the qualifying order on Saturday.