IMS Daily Indianapolis 500 Trackside Report – Sunday, May 12 …

Posted: May 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

Andretti Munoz

By: Wm. LaDow

INDIANAPOLIS – Partly cloudy skies and cool blustery winds made for a challenging day of practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday. Late in the day however, speeds picked-up during a flourish of activity.  Despite the weather conditions, it turned into a busy afternoon as twenty-three cars took to the speedway to run 730 laps.

In discussing the weather conditions, Car owner Sarah Fisher said  “There’s a lot you can accomplish on a day like this. You have to balance it out with other readings through the week, what the differences are and then make sure you compensate. You can get a lot done even if it’s cold, especially if Race Day is like this because you really never know what Race Day will bring.

The 5pm-6pm “Happy Hour” became a high speed drafting clinic conducted by Andretti Autosport.  The five Andretti team members led by defending IndyCar Champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, along with Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, E.J. Viso and Carlos Munoz aggressively ran through the paces in their Chevrolet-powered Dallaras.

It was the rookie Munoz, in the No. 26 Unistraw Chevrolet, who garnered the “fastest of the day” honors with a lap of 223.023 miles per hour, breaking the 223 mph mark for the first time this month. Pulling Munoz to his fast lap were the other Andretti team members in a five car pack.  The Andretti team five car tow was only interrupted briefly when Munoz got too low in Turn One putting two tires on the grass and drawing a yellow flag for debris. To his credit, the rookie remained cool and righted his car without incident.

Munoz’s described his day by saying: “It is nice to be in the top (of the charts). It was in the tow, and I think I had a little bit better tow than my teammates. But, for sure, we have a long ways to go. I’m still learning a lot, especially on the grooves. I have a great car. It allowed me to be more confident. I have great teammates that helped me a lot. They say to me what I am doing wrong or stuff like that.” (About running in the grass in Turn 1): “It was just a misunderstanding. Inside the turn I went into the dirt; it was close. In the race, I’m going to have those situations. I had two tires in the grass, so I was lucky to continue. After that, I was more comfortable behind the guys.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay, who finished the day second fastest in his No. 1 DHL Chevrolet at 222.825 mph stated: “It’s just so great to be back at Indy. The feeling the first day on track is pretty special. Like you say, Andretti Autosport has had a good season so far, and we certainly had a strong run. But all of that has nothing to do with Indy. You start over here. We really don’t know where we stack up yet compared to everybody because we haven’t had a full field out there yet. Today was a good day to just check some things off the list and run through some of the bigger changes, trying to understand a few things that we were looking at during the winter. Then we had a chance to run with the teammates, which was kind of interesting at times. It was fun, though. It was fun just getting back in that rhythm of running in traffic at Indy. This place is so special for so many reasons. It really drives like no other racetrack. It was good to get back in it, shake a little rust off at Indy and get ready for the week.” (On how the team tries to forecast and plan for the rest of the week): “With these cars, the way IndyCar is now, you have no idea who’s done what in the offseason. To tell you the truth, what we saw last year from Ganassi and Honda, you had no idea that was going to happen on Race Day. I think qualifying will be one show, then the race. You have no idea what anybody has until you get there.”

Two-time race winner this season James Hinchcliffe, piloting the No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet said of the day’s action: “The last time we all ran together on an oval was last September, so to get out there with all the other guys was a good starting point. It was really just, more than anything, blowing some of the cobwebs off ourselves as drivers running in a draft at a place as tricky as the Speedway. I think it’s a good starting point. There’s obviously a lot of work to do; we’ve got some things we want to try, and I think you’ll see us running together a lot over the week.” (About different mindsets of running on ovals and road courses): “I think you’ve got to have a lot of respect for each other and the racetrack when you’re here, certainly. Because the speeds we are going are just so much greater than on a road course. Also the nature of the racetrack – it’s just one groove, and it’s a very sensitive place to race. We’re showing each other a lot of respect out there right now, but we’ve got to keep doing it and working to make sure we can be aggressive as we need to be on Sunday (Race Day).”

Marco Andretti’s day was equally solid posting a fastest lap of 222.485 mph. He summarized his day in the No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet by acknowledging: “So far the RC Cola car is not quite on pace with my teammates, but I’m not too worried being this early in the month. We put in some good laps and got a lot out of today’s practice. We’re working a lot on trying to find a good setup that will put us up front. A lot of improvements have been made since last year’s DW12, so I’m pleased with where things are going right now.”

AJ Allmendinger, who ran along with Andretti Autosport pack and clocked a practice best of 221.275 mph explained “Another day in the learning process today and we got a couple different things tested in the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet that should be helpful as we move on. We did a couple of short runs and a full tank run so I could see how the car would feel and I am getting more comfortable with it.”

In other IMS developments — Two drivers who just arrived at IMS Sunday were Townsend Bell, who will pilot the No. 60 Panther Racing Sunoco “Turbo” Chevrolet-Dallara and Ryan Briscoe, slated to drive the No. 8 Ganassi Racing NTT DATA Honda-Dallara. Both drivers competed Saturday in LMP2 and GT Class races in Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. Briscoe arriving via an overnight flight landed at 6am, caught a couple of hours of sleep and was able to squeeze in 12 laps, successfully shaking down his Ganassi mount.

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