Speeds Climb at Indianapolis …

Posted: May 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

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By: Wm. LaDow

Monday, May 13, 2013

As reported to the Post-Tribune – A Chicago Sun-Times Media Company

INDIANAPOLIS – The busiest day since the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened, brought about both a jump in speeds and practice laps as increasing temperatures made for better track conditions.

With only 24 hours of open track practice left before the run for the Pole on Saturday, teams continue to balance tire inventories (they have 33 sets, but need 10-12 for race day) and engine mileage, as many teams are approaching their mandatory 2,000 mile change over limit.

Speeds climbed across the board as 25 of the 32 cars who hit the track, posted laps above the 220 mph mark, with a total of one second separating the top 26 speeds of the day.

One again an Andretti Autosport entry led the way as Marco Andretti, in his No.25 RC Cola car utilizing a new Chevrolet engine, posted a lap at 225.100 mph, edging out Penske’s Helio Castroneves who had laid down a lap of 225.075 mph.

Marco, although quickest on the day was stoic in his comments saying: “Obviously it helps when you can simulate a mini-race, so we had that luxury and we’ve been taking full advantage of it, and personally I feel like that’s how the Ganassis beat us last year. It was the first year for me that pole was in reach, so I got too fascinated with just how fast would the car go instead of getting the proper car underneath you for the race. And everybody’s like, ‘Last year you were really strong in the race,’ and this and that, but the car was a handful in the race, and obviously it bit me there in the end. So we knew we needed to make some gains, and we have so far. But obviously we know how Indy goes; it’s early.”

Castroneves, running the No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet was also measured in his response on the early speed successes: “Right now we’re trying to follow the schedule. We’re not worried about the result. Rick Mears always says that (Indy) is two races, and right now we’re worried about the first race, which is qualifying. Plus there is the weather and things like that, so we’re not thinking about the result. I dream about it, about becoming a four-time winner, but right now you have to work before you achieve your dreams. And that’s what we’re going to do.”

Several drivers made their debut for this year’s Indy 500 field. Townsend Bell got up to speed in a hurry posting a lap in excess of 221 mph in only eleven laps.  Dale Coyne Racing driver Pippa Mann completed her “refresher course” running 35 laps on the day and getting up to 220.500 mph. Rookie Conor Daly, driving the No. 41 A.J. Foyt-ABC Supply Honda-Dallara completed his Rookie Orientation Program in short order and joined the field running 37 laps, with a best of 219.044 mph.  Daly is an Indy 500 legacy, as his father Derek, was a rookie here in 1983, eventually running in six Indianapolis 500s.

Young Daly, who just returned this weekend from racing GP3 in Barcelona acclimated himself quite well on Monday, getting up to speed quite quickly. He was clearly elated on his opportunity to drive for Foyt stating: “Today was really cool. I really enjoyed my first few laps around here. The car feels great, very comfortable to drive, easy flat all around every lap. It’s crazy for me to think we have four more days of practice, which is something that I’m not used to, but it’s really nice. I’m excited that we can keep working at it and see where we end up.” (What you expected?): “It’s always a bit of an unknown at first. I was a little bit iffy on how does the car feel, what does it feel like, and as soon as I got up to speed where you could really feel the downforce kick in, then it was fine. It was harder to go slower than it was to go fast. It’s nice to go fast.” (What does it mean to be racing at Indy?): “It’s incredible; I really can’t describe it. It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of, and I’m still dreaming, so it’s very, very cool. I’m just so thankful to be a part of this organization.”

Daly’s AJ Foyt Racing teammate Takuma Sato in the No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Honda noted: “It was a very productive day. We made some changes and collected very good data from them, and everything went according to plan. I’m happy to see all of the progress. It’s nice to see that Conor got up to speed very quickly so we are able to go to the proper test plan for the two cars tomorrow.”

Thirty-three cars have passed technical inspection. Thirty-two drivers have been on the track to date and turned 1,799 laps today and 3,009 laps this month. Only driver not yet on track was 1996 Indy 500 winner Buddy Lazier in the No. 91 Lazier Partners car, who has not turned any laps so far this month.

Open Practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway continues Tuesday Noon till 6pm.

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