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Marcus Ericsson Fastest in Thursday Indianapolis 500 Practice

Marcus Ericsson practices during Thursday's on track session before qualifying weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Marcus Ericsson practices during Thursday's on track session before qualifying weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Marcus Ericsson practices during Thursday’s on track session before qualifying weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Photo courtesy of Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment.

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INDIANAPOLIS — Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson was fastest in Thursday’s practice session ahead of the 2023 Indianapolis 500 qualifying weekend.

The Swedish racer turned a fastest lap of 229.607 mph around the two and a half mile oval. The No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda was also fastest on the unassisted speed chart with a best lap of 224.414 mph.

“Yesterday we worked a lot on the race cars,” Ericsson said in the post-practice press conference. “We were good straight away. Then today we built on that. I think we did some changes overnight that helped me in my feeling in the car. Felt really happy with my race car.

“In the end we just did some stuff for tomorrow, some preparation for tomorrow one run in, managed to be P1 on the no tow as well. Very positive day. Hats off to the Ganassi team. The organization has done a really good job again this year with really good cars.”

Scott Dixon was second fastest at 229.186 mph while Simon Pagenaud was third fastest at 228.681 mph.

Pagenaud was upbeat about his car’s performance and the conditions that the 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner was able to practice in during the afternoon.

“Yeah, two good days. Very studious yesterday, another one today with, like a lot of people, did some fine details working on the qualifying, then we switched to race running mid afternoon,” Pagenaud said.

“Got hot, which is good, because it’s going to be a hot race day. You obviously want to know what the car is going to do in those conditions. We had a monster tow at the end and took it. Felt really good. Happy to put a big number up the charts and give a big smile on my crew’s face and everybody at Meyer Shank Racing.”

The six-hour practice had no wall contact but a very close call during Happy Hour when RC Enerson went to the Turn 1 warmup lane while Pato O’Ward was leaving the pits.

There were many fast cars behind Enerson who was trying to get out of their way. There was a radio communications mixup and Enerson had already committed to going toward the warmup lane before knowing O’Ward was leaving the pits. Neither car had contact, but there was confusion abound in O’Ward’s car.

The field turned 3,159 laps to complete 7,897.5 miles. The time gap from Ericsson to Katherine Legge in 34th place was just under one second.

Friday will have another six hour session from noon to 6:00 p.m. airing live on Peacock. The session is known as Fast Friday because not only is it the final practice day before qualifying weekend, but IndyCar will increase the turbocharger boost pressure to the qualifying level, increasing speeds.

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