— New Zealander Scott Dixon turned the fastest Thursday lap in practice for the Indianapolis 500.
The 2008 Indy 500 winner and two-time series champ went 223.088 mph (359.01 kph) — the second-fastest speed of the week.
American rookie Josef Newgarden was second. Graham Rahal, another American, was third.
“It’s nice,” Dixon said. “We have all taken this week a little slower. We’re just working on the race car. We’ve made big improvements on how it feels. We made the car feel a lot nicer to drive, especially in traffic.”
Speeds are expected to jump by 4-5 mph (6-8 kph) when practice resumes Friday and IndyCar officials give the engines more power over the three-day qualifying weekend.
Again, the two Lotus cars struggled. France’s Jean Alesi turned a fast lap of 333.91 kph, while Switzerland’s Simona de Silvestro’s best lap was 331.01 kph.
English rookie Katherine Legge and France’s Sebastien Bourdais took their first laps of the week after team owner Jay Penske worked out a deal to put Chevy engines in the cars.
Australian Will Power, the IndyCar season points leader in quest of his first Indy season title and Indy 500 victory, was fourth Thursday at 221.932 mph. He expects the new IndyCar chassis to produce a tight Indy 500 race day.
“You can run closer with this car than with the old car,” Power said. “It punches a massive hole in the air, so the tow effect is huge. You could be leading doing 217 (mph) and the guy behind you could be 5 mph quicker.
“You have to be second, if not first. It’s hard to say if you can put a move on. It will be a very tight race because I don’t think anyone will get left behind.” — Agencies