19-year-old Nolan Siegel catches air, Team Penske flies in final practice before Indy 500 qualifying

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Chevrolet-powered cars from Team Penske and Arrow McLaren were flying in Indianapolis 500 practice on Friday.

Nolan Siegel was flying, too.

The 19-year-old rookie brought Fast Friday to a halt at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he spun coming out of Turn 2, hit the outside wall and then caught air and sailed down the backstretch. The harrowing crash left Dale Coyne Racing frantically trying to put together a backup car for Siegel with qualifying for the May 26 race on deck this weekend.

“Disappointed,” Siegel said after he was released from infield care center. “Feel bad for the team. It’s been working so hard for so long for this. Just kind of threw it away. Not at all happy about that one.”

All the cars got a boost of about 100 horsepower Friday that they will use for qualifying, and it was reflected in the speeds, with Colton Herta of Honda-powered Andretti Global turning the day's fastest lap at 234.974 mph with the help of a slight tow.

Otherwise, it was Team Penske and Arrow McLaren flexing their muscles ahead of qualifying.

NASCAR star Kyle Larson, who will be trying to run the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, had the second-fastest single lap for McLaren at 234.271 mph. Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin were next for Penske, with Alexander Rossi and Pato O'Ward of the McLaren team sandwiched around Will Power, the third-fastest of the Penske cars.

Newgarden had the fastest four-lap average of 234.063 mph in a simulated qualifying run. McLaughlin and Power gave team owner Roger Penske a sweep of the three fastest four-lap averages ahead of Saturday's time trials.

“I think today is a good indicator,” said Newgarden, the defending race winner, “and we feel like we're in a decent spot. We're definitely in the mix, which is great to see. We've been working the last four years to get back in the mix in qualifying.”

Two-time IndyCar champion Alex Palou, who has come close to winning the Indy 500 the past three years, was left in a tough situation when his Honda-powered engine let go during practice. His team at Chip Ganassi Racing spent much of the afternoon swapping engines, and Palou was left to head into qualifying with a lot of uncertainty.

“No warnings, but I felt something that was not what I wanted to feel,” he said. “But it's OK. We still have time to go back out and hopefully put in a qualifying run. But these things happen when you are trying to find a maximum.”

Siegel's wreck came after Marcus Ericsson and Linus Lundqvist were involved in separate crashes Thursday. Ericsson went to a backup car for Andretti Global and struggled to find speed, while the Ganassi bunch was able to repair Lundqvist's car.

Siegel also expected his team to start preparing a backup car, but his wreck about 2 hours into practice didn't leave them much time. There are 34 cars trying to make the 33-car field; the top 12 on Saturday will advance to the pole shootout Sunday, when the four slowest will be left to their own showdown for the final three spots on the starting grid.

“It certainly doesn't do any good,” said Siegel, who has been a regular winner in the lower-level Indy NXT series but has limited IndyCar experience. “I'll look into what I can do differently. I'm fine. I feel like I can go back and have a chance at making the race at least, but certainly a setback we didn't need.”


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