Australian front-row starter Will Power edged New Zealand pole sitter Scott Dixon for the fastest lap in Friday’s final Indianapolis 500 practice session, a crash-free hour of testing for drivers.
The 99th edition of the US oval classic at the famed 2.5-mile (4km) Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be staged Sunday with defending IndyCar Series champion Power seeking his first Indy 500 win and Dixon seeking his second after a 2008 triumph in his only prior pole start.
Power, who starts in the middle of row one, had a top lap of 39.2978 seconds at 229.020 mph with Dixon next at 0.0749 of a second behind (228.585 mph).
“I’ve felt the best I’ve ever felt in traffic, which had kind of been a problem for me in the past,” said the driver from Toowoomba in Queensland.
“I definitely feel good with the car. (But) everything has to go right. Last year, the biggest mistake I made was actually leading for a while. Then I pitted early, went back and got in traffic.
“Once you’ve got one stop to go and you’ve done your second-to-last pit stop, I think from that point things start to get real serious”
Melbourne’s James Davison was 11th quickest with a speed of 226.578 mph but he starts from 33rd place in a Honda qualified by another driver while Davison was competing in a race Canada last weekend.
“I’ve done just two half days in the car,” Davison said.
“It’s gone very well. We know we’re competitive.”
Sydney’s Ryan Briscoe, who is subbing for the injured James Hinchcliffe in another Honda-powered car, had a best lap of 224.005 mph.
“It was really fun getting out there with everyone else,” Briscoe said.
“It came right back to me. We were just tuning on the balance a little bit to try to make it a little better at following cars into the corners. We made great progress.”
Brazil’s Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner set for his 300th IndyCar start, was third in 39.3891 seconds (228.490 mph) with France’s Simon Pagenaud, who starts on the outside of row one, fourth in 39.3945 (228.458 mph).
The four fastest qualifiers had the best speeds of the last session, all powered by Chevrolet engines. The best lap for rival Honda was from Japan’s Takuma Sato, who was fifth overall in 39.4318 seconds (228.242 mph). Sato will start 24th on Sunday.
Colombia’s Juan Pablo Montoya, the 2000 Indy 500 winner and current season points leader, struggled with a boost sensor problem in the session and was only 15th fastest.
In all, 33 starters made 1,195 laps without incident, including French last-minute substitute Tristan Vautier, the 2013 IndyCar Rookie of the Year who replaced Colombian Carlos Huertas after an inner ear condition left the South American unable to be medically cleared to race.