Scott Dixon paces Carb Day for Indianapolis 500; Team Penske also shows its speed

Scott Dixon ran to the top of the board in the final practice before Sunday's Indianapolis 500 and called it a day with 45 minutes remaining in the session.

"Hopefully it runs this good in the race," Dixon said after his lap at 228.323 mph put the six-time IndyCar champion in control of Friday's practice. "I was told we were done. We got through our list. I thought the car felt good.

"Also, the conditions, I thought everyone was going to feel like King Kong out there."

Dixon packed his helmet and calmly headed back to the paddock at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, his rivals taking nervous notice of how confident the pole sitter is ahead of this weekend's race.

"We changed our plans when we saw that. We knew we were in trouble," Will Power said jokingly. "Completely changed the car. I thought I was safe, then I saw him get out. That's it. It's over."

Rain disrupted the traditional Carb Day practice, but IndyCar was able to get cars on track for almost two hours later Friday afternoon. The speedway leased Air Titan track dryers from NASCAR to get the 2½-mile track dry for a practice session in which all 33 cars got on track.

The session was shortened for the final 10 minutes when it once again began to rain, but not before Team Penske showed it was ready to race Sunday and the rest of the field indicated it should be a rather exciting show.

"The racing is amazing right now," said Colton Herta, who will start second alongside Dixon. "I hope it stays this cool for the race because it is actually a lot of fun out there."

Said Dixon: "That may give you an indication of how the race will be. If it's like this, it's going to be mentally draining. There's going to be a lot of action going on."

The biggest surprise was Team Penske, which struggled in qualifying and nearly missed the race with Power. One of the greatest qualifiers in IndyCar history had to fight his way into the 33-car field -- brushing the wall on his final qualifying attempt -- and rookie Scott McLaughlin at 17th was the highest-qualifying Penske driver.

"I honestly felt bad for Will. Obviously, he's a fierce competitor. Seeing the struggles, not him, but the team are going through for qualifying pace," Dixon said. "He's probably the greatest qualifier of our era, if not all time. You definitely know it's not him. It's just one of those frustrating things.

"He handled it extremely well. Kudos for keeping his foot in it, too, which made for some great TV, some great Internet stuff as well."

Team owner Roger Penske said his four cars would be just fine come race day, and that seemed to be the case in final practice. Simon Pagenaud, the 2019 race winner, was second fastest and followed by Josef Newgarden in third. Power, the 2018 winner, was sixth, and McLaughlin was seventh.

Conor Daly, meanwhile, was fourth fastest on the day in yet another strong showing for Ed Carpenter Racing. But he said Friday was his worst day of the month, and he was furious after a near on-track incident with Santino Ferrucci.

"It was like we were sacrificing our vehicles for a prize today," Daly said. "Did you win anything today? I didn't."

Marco Andretti, meanwhile, was fifth fastest after rebuilding the floor of his car Saturday following a disappointing qualifying effort. The change had an immediate effect, and Andretti now believes he has a shot at winning the race.

"I've had a car to win this race a lot of times. I've said that before the race," Andretti said. "We just have to see if the stars align, do our job, slowly get there, hopefully stay out of messes. But the field is pretty stacked, very talented, hopefully very smart."

Andretti was the pole sitter a year ago but the first since 2001 to fail to lead a single lap.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.