By Michael Marot
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS — Josef Newgarden had the fastest car Monday in the final full practice for the Indianapolis 500.
Less than 24 hours after the young American was relegated to the No. 2 starting spot for Sunday’s race, Newgarden posted the best lap in the second-to-last practice at 227.414 mph. Target Chip Ganassi teammates Tony Kanaan, the 2013 race winner, and defending series champion Scott Dixon finished second and third at 226.393 and 226.339 on the 2.5-mile oval.
James Hinchcliffe, the pole-winning driver from Canada, was 17th at 224.602.
Drivers took advantage of the warm, sunny conditions to try and replicate what they expect this weekend. They ran with heavier fuel loads, in single-file packs, side-by-side and even a few hair-raising formations that made practice as challenging as the race could be.
“I think there were four wide at one point,” Newgarden said after the 33 starters completed 2,886 laps. “I was going to be four-wide at one point going up the front straightaway and I backed out of it. But you look at the last three, four years and it’s been spectacular racing where people don’t really get away from each other, and I think you’re going to see that again.”
The Chevrolet cars, which struggled to keep up with the Hondas last week, swept the top four spots Monday. Newgarden, who drives for Ed Carpenter Racing, was followed by the Brazil’s Kanaan, New Zealand’s Dixon and American Sage Karam at 226.045.
England’s Pippa Mann of Dale Coyne Racing was the fastest Honda driver. The only woman in the 33-car field, Mann placed fifth at 225.833.
“It was pretty hairy out there, and it’s pretty representative of what will happen in the race,” Mann said. “You’re going to have to use your hands, you’re going to have to use your brakes and it gets incredibly difficult.”
Ganassi’s team also turned things around after a miserable week by taking three of the top six spots, with American Charlie Kimball going 225.830.
WHO’S HOT: Jack Hawksworth. The English driver pulled into the grass in the fourth turn and quickly climbed out when A.J. Foyt’s No. 41 car started smoking. Hawksworth walked to the inside wall and sat down on the barrier before the car returned to Gasoline Alley. Hawksworth was not injured, but he said the team will change engines before the final practice this month on Friday.
WHO’S NOT: Alex Tagliani. After crashing in the fourth turn of his warmup lap during Sunday’s qualifying, Foyt’s team worked hard to get the No. 35 backup car for practice. But on a day the other 32 drivers spent most of the afternoon chasing and challenging, the Canadian didn’t pull out of his pit until seven minutes were left in practice. He completed 10 laps with a top speed of 221.373.
200-PLUS: American Zach Veach became the first Indy Lights driver to top the 200 mph mark at Indy when he turned a fast lap of 201.455 in Friday morning’s test session. The speed, however, will not count as an official record. Only speeds from qualifying or the race are considered official records.
UP NEXT: All 33 race starters will participate in a national media tour Tuesday. Practice resumes Friday morning, just two days before the race. (Rookie Stefan Wilson will be talking with sports editor John Bombatch in Dayton. – ED)