Archive for May 16, 2013


Daily Indianapolis 500 Trackside Report

By: Wm. LaDow

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

INDIANAPOLIS — When practice began today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the air temperature was already 86°, with a track temperature of 113°.  By 4pm, was 91°, with winds gusting up to 16 miles per hour and the track temperature was 126°.  As the afternoon wore on, temperatures rose, along with hot gusty winds, slowing speeds until the 5pm “Happy Hour

Defending IndyCar Series Champion Ryan Hunter-Reay summed it up best by saying: “It’s like flying light aircraft out there.”

The “Fast Five” for the day were Dario Franchitti / Ganassi-Honda (224.236 mph), Townsend Bell / Panther Racing-Chevy (223.716 mph), Helio Castroneves / Penske-Chevy (223.699 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay / Andretti Autosport-Chevy (223.093 mph) and Ryan Briscoe / Ganassi-Honda (222.803 mph).  It was the first time this month that a Honda-powered car was atop the Leaderboard.

Franchitti, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and the defending Indy 500 Champion said: (About being fastest of the day): “It doesn’t really count for much, but it’s nice, nonetheless. Right now we’re still very much in the preparation stage. We’re making changes to the car, and sometimes doing one and two-lap runs. I think we had a pretty tough morning there and made some big changes to the Target car in the afternoon. We ran some and was pretty happy with it, so we went out there with some of the Andretti guys and my teammates – Scott, Ryan, and I think Charlie was involved for a minute there, as well – and some other guys involved in a pack, and really the lap time came from being in the right place at the right time. It was a bit like everybody out there: It was when you got the tow and how big the tow was.  So for us, it was more important

Townsend Bell, in the No. 60 Sunoco “Turbo” Chevrolet completed his second full day of practice posting a best lap speed of 223.716 mph. Bell, an Indianapolis 500 specialist, described his afternoon working with his new team: “We made a lot gains today. I’m really happy with what we discovered in the Sunoco Turbo Chevy. The Panther Racing guys do an awesome job. I had a lot of little ‘teething’ issues in dealing with a new car, new timing stand, and all of that, but the guys just keep working hard to get everything sorted out and it’s been nice. We’ve been able to take our time because we know that the equipment is really good and I can’t wait for raceday. I think we’re going to be in really good shape. Things at this point are a little bit weather dependent as we start thinking about our qualifying setup. We just have to see what the weather is going to do on Pole Day and then try to make our best guess accordingly as to when to practice and what to practice. I’m just really pleased with everything that we’re working toward right now and I’m just having fun. It’s great to be back.”

Rookie Conor Daly in the No. 41 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Honda, was very pleased with his progress noting: “We got over 220 today, which was enjoyable. I got to run in traffic at the end of the day, so that was good experience, a whole new experience for me, and I really enjoyed it. As long as I can keep running like that tomorrow, I think we’ll have a good platform for the race.” (Was running in traffic what you expected?): “It was a little surprising. It’s tough to really get close to people, so I think there’s some stuff we can do with the car to help that. But I think mainly it’s just me trying to figure out how to navigate traffic, so it should get better.”

No less than 15 drivers toured the 2.5-mile oval in packs of three, four and five in the final half-hour in an effort to feel-out the balance of their cars in traffic and continue developing their overall race setup. In total, 32 drivers piled up 2,165 laps without incident.

Thursday race teams will begin trimming out their car’s downforce as they prepare for their run for the Pole on Saturday. Weather forecasters are predicting higher heat and humidity for the weekend with a chance for scattered showers.

In other Trackside news; Buddy Rice passed up the opportunity to drive the #99 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda citing a lack of practice time going into a “Bump Day” run for the field. Ed Carpenter also confirmed he will not race the No. 40 Chevy-Dallara he had entered previously.

Buddy Lazier’s team has converted their car to a Chevy engine configuration (last year it was Lotus powered) and will likely be on-track Thursday. Lazier noted that they inked a deal with Chevrolet that gave his Lazier Partners Racing Team a reduced mileage engine plan, so a Thursday/Friday roll out fits with the team’s plans for qualifying.

Competing in a series of pitstop time trials Wednesday morning, pit crews for #22 Oriol Servia (Panther Racing/DRR), #83 Charlie Kimball (NovoNordisk Chip Ganassi Racing), #27 James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Autosport), #8 Ryan Briscoe (Chip Ganassi Racing) and #25 Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport) qualified for the Indianapolis 500 Pit Stop Competition. Those five teams will join the pit crews of the #1 Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport), #3 Helio Castroneves (Team Penske), #9 Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), #10 Dario Franchitti (Target Chip Ganassi), #11 Tony Kanaan (KV Racing Technology) #12 Will Power (Team Penske) and #14 Takuma Sato (A.J. Foyt Racing) who qualified through pit stop performance in the IZOD IndyCar Series events between the 2012 Indianapolis 500 and 2013 Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300. The Pit Stop Competition will take place during Carb Day at the Brickyard on May 24.

Track action resumes Thursday for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 from noon until 6pm.