Momentum at that Brickyard Climbs as do the Speeds …

Posted: May 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

Helio Flip

It was quite the day for Penske Racing’s Helio Castroneves.

Forty-five minutes into the day’s Indianapolis 500 practice, Castroneves No. 3 Chevrolet-Dallara did a half spin and made hard contact with the end of the SAFER Barrier in Turn 1. The car became airborne, rotated 180 degrees vertically before landing on the roll hoop, sliding and flipping upright. His car then came to rest at the entrance to Turn 2. Castroneves climbed out of the car under his own power and was transported to the IU Health Emergency Medical Center for observation, where Dr. Geoffrey Billows, Indianapolis Motor Speedway director of medical services, reported that Helio was uninjured, was released and cleared to drive.  See video of the incident here

Leigh SpargurInitially Castroneves was unavailable for comment, but a concerned Roger Penske talked about Helio’s incident: “It looks like the car got backwards, air got underneath it and the car flipped. He’s just resting in there. Not an issue. No broken bones. Nothing. He’s alert. In fact, I talked to him right after he hit the ground. He’ll be fine.” (About car getting airborne): “We’re playing with new areas from the aerodynamic standpoint, and of course, going backwards at that speed, you don’t know what kind of lift it had. But obviously, it got airborne which we were surprised (about). We’ll take a good look at it.” (Will you repair the car?): “We wouldn’t run that car. We’ll run a backup car.”

Not long after, Castroneves released the following statement: “The car was really good and I am very blessed. Unfortunately, I still do not understand what happened. I got loose in Turn 1 and spun out. The good news is the impact wasn’t very strong and the landing was smooth as well. In all aspects, I have to say I was very lucky there was no big shunt. The accident was most impressive, but the good news is I am feeling very good. This just set us back one day since it is Wednesday. The good news is we still have Thursday and Friday before qualifying. I’m counting on my guys, my boys, to put the car back together and go back to work.”

Even more amazing than the initial Castroneves incident, was Helio returning to the track late in the day to shake down his backup car. Roger Penske’s comment regarding the benefit for all the race teams to fully understand what led to Castroneves getting upside down and how it relates to the implementation of the new IndyCar aerokits: “I think the ability of the team in five hours to put that (back-up) car together – we had to take the engine out of one car and take a lot of the pieces off – and get out for a few laps says a lot. It looks like we’re competitive; we ran 226 (mph). To me, it’s a good start for tomorrow.” (about the car getting airborne) “You’re always concerned when a car gets backwards; it looks a little bit like NASCAR the way the thing went up and went over. You can only test so much in your simulations and in a small wind tunnel, and I think this is something good to know now because we can look at it and see what are the right things to help all the cars that are on the track.”

The Castroneves incident was one of two on the afternoon as Pippa Mann spun exiting Turn 4, slid and made a half-spin before making contact with the right rear of her car against the SAFER Barrier along the inside wall. The car continued spinning and made contact with the right front of the car against the pit-in attenuator, then spinning three more times before making light contact with the rear of the car against the outside wall on the frontstretch. Mann got out of the car and after a trip to the Medical Center, was released, and is cleared to drive. See Video from the incident here.

Chris Jones P1Mann’s description of the incident: “Guys in front of me in the big pack checked up and I saw them check up. I got on the brakes, but unfortunately I just got in the gray and made a mistake. When you’re not in a race car week in and week out, sometimes you make mistakes. It’s a real shame for my guys. The car was running great and now they have to go fix a race car. We were having a good day and we had a good race car.  I’m really sorry that the guys have to go and fix it. The joke inside (the medical center) was I got away with a couple of bruises, but I think my crew chief will have a few more for me when I get back to the garage after that one.”

Chris Owens CMCarlos Munoz in the No. 26 AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda laid down the first lap over 230 mph of the month. His 230.121 mph, in a tow, was just another stepping stone to higher speeds this weekend. “Really, we were not looking for a tow, we just made a change and said, ‘OK let’s go in the group and see if we can just cop a tow and feel the car in traffic a little bit,” said the Andretti Autosport driver, who has finished in the top five in each of his two previous Indianapolis 500 starts. “I went back to the pack and it’s practice, so whoever gets the best tow is the one who is going to finish first. The positive thing is that I feel really comfortable with the car, the car feels OK. In traffic and by my own, I feel fast. We have to continue working, we have still two days of testing so we have to try some stuff.”



Noon-6pm – Indianapolis 500 practice

Practice continues through the week, with qualifying to set the field of 33 starting Saturday, May 16 & concluding on Sunday, May 17. Television coverage on ABC begins at 4pm EDT Saturday and 1pm EDT Sunday.

Photos Courtesy of IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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