Legendary Brickyard Opens for Practice …

Posted: May 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

By: Wm. LaDow

SpeedwaySightings.com

Published in the Post-Tribune, a Chicago Sun-Times Media Publication — May 13, 2012

IndyCar practice officially began at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Saturday as all of the Roger Penske entries for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500 crossed the finish line together in a three-wide formation. With Penske Racing having won four of the previous IndyCar races with their new combination of Dallara DW-12 chassis and Chevrolet engines, it was appropriate that Ryan Briscoe, Will Power and Helio Castroneves ran the first official laps of the month.

Saturday’s 26 car, 693 lap practice session was an important beginning for the “Month of May” as it marked the first real opportunity for extensive testing of the new chassis/engine combinations at IMS.  There had been only one IMS test day this year and it involved only nine drivers running a combined 495 laps. That April 4th test utilized the new Dallara chassis, powered only by Honda and Chevrolet engines, as Lotus was unable to provide equipment for that day’s testing due to engine production constraints. With Pole Day just a week away and the first four IndyCar races this season run on only street and road courses, quality high-speed oval testing here at the Brickyard is at a premium.

Teams began running shakedown laps early in the afternoon with speeds climbing during a very active “Happy Hour” session, the last hour of the day.

Three American drivers led the way as the fastest lap of the day was 220.250 mph registered by rookie Josef Newgarden in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda-Dallara. Next fastest at 219.693 mpg was 2011 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year; JR Hildebrand, in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet-Dallara. Rounding out the top three spots on the leader board was another rookie; Bryan Clauson, running 219.632 in the No. 39 car, another Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda-Dallara.

Engine supplier parity was apparent as there were 11 Honda and 9 Chevrolet powered cars in the top twenty speeds for the day.

Both Penske Racing and Team Chip Ganassi teams showed considerable constraint during the course of the day with seven cars (three of them back-up or “T” cars) completing a total of only 92 laps, running speeds in the range of 215-217 mph.

Teams return to the track for more practice Sunday from 12 noon to 6 pm.

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(Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway)

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