Indianapolis — Will Power ended the final practice session for the Indianapolis 500 up front — exactly where he doesn't want to be for most of Sunday's race.
Power posted the fastest lap in Friday's hour-long session, which was free of any incidents and dominated by the Chevrolets from Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing. The Australian turned a fast lap at 229.020 mph to give Penske the session.
He then downplayed being atop the leaderboard.
"It means nothing, really. It's just a big draft," said Power, who won the road course race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to open the month. "You know, we'll see on Sunday."
What Power does know is that he'd prefer not to be the leader for the bulk of Sunday's race. The last few races have been marked by multiple lead changes, including a whopping 35 last year.
Given his preference, Power said he'd like to race near the front Sunday but not be the actual leader.
"No one is going to want to lead," he said. "You can't get away. In the old car, you could get away, so track position was really important. Now you sit half throttle on the straights. Last year, no one would pass me. Leading felt like one of the biggest mistakes of the race. You had to pit earlier, you get shuffled back."
Power, who starts second Sunday, doesn't have to worry about pole-sitter Scott Dixon giving him the lead when the checkered flag waves. Dixon was second fastest in final practice with a lap at 228.585, and the New Zealand driver was one of the few who has no qualms about leading during the race.
"Oh, I'll lead," he smiled. "For us, we would probably want a lot of green-flag pit stops. One is going to string the field out a little bit, give you room on a bit of strategy, having to save fuel. We'll have to see how it goes."
The session was incident free after two weeks of spectacular accidents, including a trio of cars that went airborne amid concerns that the new aerodynamic kits were unsafe.
Huertas out of race
Carlos Huertas was ruled out of Sunday's race after failing a routine medical exam, and veteran driver Tristan Vautier was chosen to replace him in the No. 18 car for Dale Coyne Racing.
Dr. Terry Trammell, IndyCar's medical consultant, said Huertas had an "inner ear condition" that will need further evaluation before he is cleared to return to competition. The exact nature of his condition was not disclosed.
Huertas had qualified on the outside of Row 6. Due to the late driver change, Vautier will have to start 32nd in the 33-car field for his second Indianapolis 500.
"It's really not the way you want to get back in a car," said Vautier, who was in Chicago's O'Hare Airport, preparing to fly to England, when he was summoned back to Indianapolis.
Hinchcliffe posts photo
James Hinchcliffe was smiling and dressed in a hospital gown in his first photo since the brutal crash that knocked him out of the Indianapolis 500.
Hinchcliffe posted a photo Friday on Instagram of him in the gown and yellow socks, hooked to a portable IV. He is sidelined indefinitely after surgery on a life-threatening leg injury that occurred when a broken piece of his suspension pierced his left thigh after a hard crash Monday.
Hinchcliffe wrote that he knows he has a long recovery ahead but was lucky to be surrounded by great doctors and friends. He also praised IndyCar's medical staff and safety crew as "the best on earth."
In the pink
Sage Karam was the victim of a prank pulled by his Chip Ganassi Racing teammates when his Camaro underwent a girlish makeover, turning the car pink and stamped with "Karamo" on the windshield.
Even better, a decal was added that says, "Honk if you think I'm sexy."
"There's been quite a few honks," Karam said.
Karam wants singer Taylor Swift to headline next year at the 100th running, so he can then strut out of victory lane with the singer one on arm and the other holding the winner's wreath.
"She'll be my date," Karam smiled.