Honda-powered cars show promise for Indianapolis 500

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gabby20160524INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana: Gabby Chaves was fastest in the fourth day of practice for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in the No.19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda with a lap of 227.961 miles per hour (364.737 kilometers per hour).

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Honda drivers have been atop the leaderboard all three days of practice.

“It’s only practice but it feels pretty good,” said Chaves, the 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year for both the Indianapolis 500 and Verizon IndyCar Series who had been without a ride this season before Dale Coyne Racing brought him on this month. “It’s my first time at the top of the charts here at IMS [Indianapolis Motor Speedway] in an Indy car.”

“Just pleased with the work the team has been doing, very pleased with the performance that Honda has been putting out as well. Overall I think we’ve got a pretty strong package,” he added.

With just one more day of practice before two days of qualifications this weekend, the focus has also centered on the no-tow speed list paced today by Will Power with a lap of 225.381 mph (360.61 kph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

“We had some good runs out there today,” said Power, the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2015 Indianapolis 500 runner-up. “We definitely made some gains and have a little bit more to go, as we’re still making adjustments for the coming days. I’m pretty confident that the Verizon Chevrolet will be in good shape for qualifying.”

Chaves was followed on the overall speed chart today by Townsend Bell in the No. 29 Andretti Autosport Honda (227.593 mph/364.15 kph), Carlos Munoz in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda (227.589 mph/364.14 kph), Conor Daly in the No. 18 ShirtsForAmerica.com Honda (227.524 mph/364 kph) and Charlie Kimball in the No. 42 Tresiba Chevrolet (227.477 mph/363.96 kph).

“It’s almost weird because two months ago it was all about, ‘Oh my gosh, Chevy is just dominating,’ and Honda has just done a phenomenal job to keep their heads down, keep working and they’ve come here very well-prepared,” said Bell, a one-off competitor at the Indy 500 who serves as an NBCSN analyst at most Verizon IndyCar Series races. “I’m super proud to be in one of their cars. It’s been neat.”

Speeds are expected to increase in succeeding practice when the turbocharger boost level for the Chevrolet and Honda 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines is raised 10 kPa to 140. That should equate to about an additional 30 horsepower.

Following Power on the no-tow speed chart were Graham Rahal in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda (225.321 mph/360.51 kph), reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevy (225.237 mph/360.38 kph) and defending Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevy (225.156 mph/360.25 kph).

“The Verizon Chevy ran well today,” Montoya said. “We had a little bit of a problem there earlier, but we made some changes and were able to make progress towards the end of practice. We’re getting up to speed, ending practice much faster than we did previously.”

“Honestly, I’m very happy with where we’re going right now,” he added.

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