The first sign that business is starting to pick up for Indianapolis 500 practice occurred on Thursday afternoon as Conor Daly became the first driver involved in an accident since laps starting turning last weekend.
Daly had just turned a lap at more than 219 miles an hour when he lost control of his car. He thought wind may have played a factor in the accident.
It began when Daly wiggled coming out of turn 1 and hit the SAFER Barrier with the right side of his car. The contact forced him to spin left and nearly flip upside down before sliding down the short chute between turns 1 and 2. Although the car sustained heavy damage, Daly climbed away under his own power and was ultimately cleared without injury by the infield care center staff.
"We had just made a change on the springs in the rear," Daly said. "For me, I felt comfortable the whole time. It's all been reasonably good. I was just trying to experience a little bit more with the car, and there was a car in front and me. The wind, it feels like it's been gusting more, and the rear was leaning hard on the outside tire, and it just kind of folded over on itself. I just lost it. Just not good."
The accident ended a string of more than 6,000 consecutive laps during which a car had not been involved in an accident. As teams approach this weekend's qualifying sessions, speeds were expected to pick up in practice with drivers starting to push the limits of their equipment.
Daly, a Formula 1 development driver and son of former IndyCar driver Derek Daly, has an Indy-only ride with A.J. Foyt Racing. That team currently leads the drivers' championship with Takuma Sato following his victory and second-place finishes at Long Beach and Brazil, respectively.