By Amy Konrath
INDIAIANAPOLIS (Sunday, May 13, 2012) – Young drivers continue to top the speed charts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as Firestone Indy Lights point leader Sebastian Saavedra topped Day 2 of practice for the 96th Indianapolis 500.
Saavedra, driving the No. 17 Team AFS Chevrolet for AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport, recorded a lap of 40.6272 seconds, 221.526 mph, to set the fastest lap of the month. He also earned $5,000 from Grady Brothers Construction for setting the fastest lap.
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s rookie teammates Bryan Clauson and Josef Newgarden posted the second and third fastest laps, respectively, in their Hondas. Clauson recorded a lap of 40.6922, 221.173 mph in the No. 39 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing/RW Honda while Newgarden recorded a lap of 221.158 mph in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda.
2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon (220.829) and Dale Coyne Racing’s Justin Wilson (220.615) rounded out the fast five for the day.
In all, 31 drivers recorded 1,138 incident-free laps on the day. Practice continues on May 14 from noon to 6 p.m.
DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:
Bell moves from one race car to another
“What day is it?” Townsend Bell joked in the Schmidt Pelfrey garage mid-morning Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Bell, driver of the Honda-powered No. 99 BraunAbility car, flew to Indianapolis overnight after competing in the American Le Mans Series race at Laguna Seca. His Lotus Evora finished after requiring a three-hour gearbox change during the race.
Bell, seeking to compete in his sixth Indianapolis 500, completed a seat fit and chatted with the crew before changing out of his firesuit for his physical at the infield care center. Then he got in a nap.
Bell, a pit reporter for IZOD IndyCar Series races on NBC Sports Network, recorded a handful of laps late in the day.
Hunter-Reay honors Wheldon on helmet
Ryan Hunter-Reay is wearing a helmet dedicated to two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon.
“Any Indy 500 helmet is a special one,” said Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car for Andretti Autosport. “You cherish them and put them at the top of your helmet selection. This one has Wheldon after his win last year on one side and the Borg-Warner (Trophy) on the other.
“It’s a pretty cool helmet, and it will be special to me for many years to come. Dan is the champion. He’s the champion of the race and a great ambassador for our sport. We all miss him. In everything we do to remember him, this is just a small part of it.”
Wade Cunningham completed the third and final phase of the Rookie Orientation Program. … Three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser and 1977 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Jerry Sneva visited the track. … Also at the track was former IZOD IndyCar Series driver A.J. Foyt IV, who watched part of the session from his grandfather’s pit. … Josef Newgarden is seeking to become the first Tennessee native to qualify for the “500.”
The 2012 Celebration of Automobiles featured many of the world’s finest classic/vintage automobiles on display Saturday, May 12 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with a 1929 Duesenberg J-108 Convertible Coupe owned by John Groendyke of Enid, Okla., earning Best Of Show honors.
Additional cars and their owners winning Celebration of Automobiles Special Awards:
Drivers’s Choice Award: 1932 Stutz Bearcat – Richard Mitchell, Montgomery, Texas.
Most Outstanding Indiana Build Automobile Presented by Indiana Council of Automobiles: 1924 Marmon 34-C – Bill and Barbara Parfet, Hickory Corner, Mich.
Most Outstanding Full Classic Presented by Indiana Region Classic Car Club of America:
1935 Packard 1005 Coupe Roadster – Terry Love, Ottawa, Ill.
Media Choice Award: 1937 Railton Saloon Limousine – Eldon Hostetler, Middlebury, Ind.
People’s Choice Award: 1940 Ford Business Coupe Deluxe – Richard Fagersten, Sparta, N.J.
Road & Track Trophy: 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Rally Sport Z28 Coupe – David Renshaw, Fishers, Ind.
Best of Division I: 1938 Packard Super 8 Coupe Roadster – Off Bros., Bloomfield, Mich.
Best of Division II: 1930 Cadillac V16 Convertible DeVille – Frank Ricciardelli, Neptune, N.J.
Division One: A. Jim and Becky Aldrich – Raleigh, N.C. (1920 Stutz H’ 7 Passenger Touring); B. Jerry Arthur – Zionsville, Ind. (1925 REO T6 Roadster); C. Frank Ricciardelli – Neptune, N.J. (1938 Jaguar SS Coupe); D. Ronald Stauffer – Portland, Ind. (1953 Ford Sunliner); E. Ken and Margaret Ellis – Rockville, Ind. (1954 Ford Crestline Sunliner Convertible); F. Paul Kilker – York, Pa. (1956 Packard Caribbean); G. Richard and Diana Foster – New Castle, Ind. (1962 Ford Thunderbird M Roadster); H. Cameron Moore – Auburn, Ind. (1966 Dodge Charger Fastback Hardtop); I. Duane Landis – Coshocton, Ohio (1970 Chevrolet Camaro Z28); J. Fred Guyton – St. Louis (1928 Bugatti Tipo 40 Torpedo Speedster); K. Kent Marburger – Palatine, Ill. (1930 Packard 745 Roadster); L. Greg Ornazian – Rochester, Mich. (1935 Auburn 851 Speedster); M. Edward Stifel III – Triadelphia, W.V. (1938 Packard 1608 Convertible Sedan); N. John Groendyke – Enid, Okla. (1933 Duesenberg SJ Riviera Phaeton).
Division Two: O. Jerry Arthur – Zionsville, Ind. (1920 Paige Six-42 Sedan); P. Mike and Deb Korneli – West Bend, Wis. (1949 Jaguar Alloy XK 120); Q. Dale and Judy Zinn – Fremont, Ind. (1952 MG TD Roadster); R. Philip Taxman – St. Louis (1957 Jaguar XK 140 MC SE Roadster); S. L.H. Bayley – Carmel, Ind. (1958 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible); T. Steve Brody – Fishers, Ind. (1962 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible); U. Greg and Susan Albers – Zionsville, Ind. (1969 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Sedan); V. Dennis Sobieski – Downers Grove, Ill. (1930 Cadillac 452 Sport Phaeton); W. Eldon Hostetler – Middlebury, Ind. (1937 Railton Saloon Limousine); X. Joseph Poole – Greencastle, Ind. (1941 Cadillac 6227D Coupe).
IMS Kids Club mascots Axel and Alley were the honorary starters today.
1977 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Jerry Sneva visited the track today.
JERRY SNEVA: “I still live here (west side of Indianapolis) and always enjoy coming out and seeing all the new stuff. The weather is great, so I know it will be a great day.” (What do you think of the new race cars?): “I think they look pretty racy; they are different-looking. They’re lighter, and they’re still going fast.” (Fondest memory of the “500”): “The first year that I made the race was the fondest. We qualified on the first day. We were the slowest (qualifier), but we ended up starting 16th and ran all day and finished 10th. We had a nice race, and we wound up Rookie of the Year.” (What you are doing now?): “I am now retired and playing golf. I am a cancer survivor of eight years. It’s in remission, and I’m still doing good.”
2011 Indianapolis 500 runner-up JR Hildebrand spoke about his strong performance in Opening Day practice Saturday. Hildebrand was second fastest at 219.693 mph in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet.
JR HILDEBRAND: “It’s nice for us to be able to start turning the page a little bit on last year. For us to roll out with some speed is a nice way for us to do that, for us to get started here this month. It’s good to be out here. It’s nice to have new challenges to face with the new car and engines and all that kind of stuff. It’s fun for us. It creates a little more adversity out there that everybody is sort of dealing with. We don’t really know what it’s going to be all about. We felt pretty good about where we were at today (Saturday) on our own and obviously picked up the same draft he (Josef Newgarden) was in. But having said that, I think our gearing was wrong because we weren’t even really sure if we’d be going that quick right away. Hopefully that’s a good sign for the rest of the week goes.” (On three Americans at the top of the speed chart Saturday, Josef Newgarden, Hildebrand and Bryan Clauson): “I think that speaks to the Mazda Road to Indy. Even now, Josef would agree, there’s a lot of guys coming up. There’s a good crop of young drivers that are coming up through the ranks here in the U.S. and winning races. They’re getting experience at the lower levels, which is what it’s all about. We obviously both kind of graduated from that program in our different ways, and I think that speaks to how well it does prepare you to come out here and do a good job.”
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing has hired Justin Penix, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) graduate and former team intern, as a full-time engineer. Penix is a member of the first graduating classof the motorsports engineering program at IUPUI. He missed his graduation ceremony Saturday to work Opening Day of the 96th Indianapolis 500, which was also his first day as a full-time SFHR employee.
Indianapolis 500 veteran and Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian co-owner Bryan Herta talked today about the performance of the new IZOD IndyCar Series car on Opening Day. Herta’s team won the 2011 Indianapolis 500 with driver Dan Wheldon.
BRYAN HERTA (Owner, Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian): “We’ve only run just a few laps, but so far (the 2012 car) seems pretty good. The speeds are better than what people were anticipating, especially this early in the week. Alex (Tagliani) is very comfortable and happy in our car. I haven’t heard any negative comments from anybody else.” (What would you say is the biggest difference in this 2012 car and past cars?): “It’s difficult to say, without driving one myself, but I think visually, obviously, they are a lot different. You have the humps in front of the (rear) tires, which I didn’t really like in person, but I have to say, on TV, it’s more space, more color on the car, and I think it stands out more on TV. The races so far, the road and street course races that they have had so far, have been really, really exciting with a lot of passing. The cars seem to race well, and I think we’re all waiting to see how it goes this month of May, hoping that these cars will produce the same kind of excitement on the ovals as they have so far on the road courses.” (How much will the extra horsepower that will be allowed for these cars on Fast Friday and qualifying weekend affect everything you’ve done up to that point?): “It will change quite a bit because it’s a pretty good chunk of horsepower. I think it will still put us maybe behind where we were horsepower-wise than we were last year. But I think it’s going to be a pretty good jump in speed, and I think it’s good because it will challenge us, in one day of practice, to dial the car in for the new speed and the new horsepower level.” (About Lionheart decal, a tribute to Dan Wheldon, on the front wing of Herta’s No. 98 Team Barracuda-BHA Honda car, driven by Tagliani): “Most, or all, of the cars had one on at St. Pete. Obviously, we’re very close with Dan and especially coming back to Indianapolis. So it’s something we’re carrying on our car all year long as a tribute.”
Graham Rahal is looking to make his fifth career start in the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29. His father, Bobby Rahal, won the 1986 Indianapolis 500 in his fifth start in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
Indianapolis 500 veteran Sebastian Saavedra welcomed his mother today at IMS on Mother’s Day from their native Bogota, Colombia.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: “It’s very special to have my mom here today. All the moms of athletes have to go through a lot supporting us in our careers. They give us good energy. My mom is the best, and it’s beautiful to have her here and sharing that positive attitude.”
Indianapolis 500 veteran Graham Rahal and his charitable organization, the Graham Rahal Foundation, are supporting a number of charitable causes throughout the month of May.
The foundation, dedicated to work for a cause that was significantly important to Rahal’s former race team owner and friend, the late actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, looks to help children with medical conditions through various fundraising events and activities.
This month the foundation will support the 500 Festival at the Chase 500 Festival Kids’ Day, Indiana’s largest free outdoor festival for kids, and will host its first “Drivers Tournament” charity event.
Rahal’s support of Kids’ Day will include Cards for Hospitalized Kids card-constructing booth, Rahal hero cards and a raffle featuring his race-worn gear. Rahal’s inaugural “Drivers Tournament,” presented by Service Central, will give fans the chance to compete in a golf tournament alongside their favorite IZOD IndyCar Series drivers and celebrities with proceeds benefiting Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer and SeriousFun Children’s Network.
Visit grahamrahalfoundation.org for more information.
Lisa Richey-Burgess, of Indianapolis, has coordinated a program with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Urban League of Indianapolis to help expose urban high school students to careers in racing.
LISA RICHEY-BURGESS: “Through a partnership of IMS and the Urban League, we’re bringing 50 Indianapolis high school kids out to the Speedway on Monday to expose them to the different career paths within the motorsports industry. We want to show them that it’s more than just drivers, but also marketing, engineering, mechanics and more. We’ve got some great people lined up to talk to the kids: Rob Edwards from Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Graham Rahal and his engineer, IMS marketing director James Newton and security director Charles Burns. It’s going to be a great experience for these kids who may never have considered these types of career opportunities for themselves. We’re looking forward to it.”
IMS Kids Club member Jackson Harris, age 11, and his mom Connie, of Speedway, are looking to meet their favorite drivers in Gasoline Alley today.
Kids Club members receive a variety of benefits, including merchandise discounts, free admission to IMS events, IMS race informational pack, an IMS Kid-ential, a Sharpie pen for autographs and much more. Visit www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/kidsclub for more information.
JACKSON HARRIS: “I’ve been coming to the Indy 500 for five years. I know who all the drivers are. I like being in the Kids Club because we get to attend special events and go into the garages. My favorite part is watching the drivers race and getting to meet them and get their autographs.”
Indianapolis 500 veteran and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing owner Sarah Fisher spent her first Mother’s Day as a mom today at IMS with her daughter, Zoey Marie, who was born last Sept. 13. Fisher is married to SFHR General Manager Andy O’Gara.
SARAH FISHER: “It’s nice; our daughter was here this morning. It was nice to be able to sit with her a little bit in the (motor) coach before we had to get busy with work.”
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing owner Sarah Fisher talked about how the addition of more turbocharger boost to engines this Friday and qualifying weekend will affect performance. SFHR fields cars for rookies Josef Newgarden and Bryan Clauson this month at Indianapolis.
SARAH FISHER: “I don’t think it’s going to change it beyond what we can’t adjust for. I think they have a good comprehension of what changes it’s going to make and be able to anticipate that, sort of like what we anticipated yesterday with a new car and a new situation with the aero package. As long as you’re prepared, that’s the biggest part of showing up.”
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing General Manager Andy O’Gara talked today about the quick start for the team this month. SFHR rookie drivers Josef Newgarden and Bryan Clauson were first and third, respectively, on the speed chart Saturday on Opening Day.
ANDY O’GARA (General manager, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing): (About challenges of new car and engine for team fielding two rookies): “That’s a lot to throw at even an experienced team, let alone a team that’s still building. But we’re very pleased with the way yesterday went; very pleased with our start to the Month of May and excited. I think everything is going right along with our game plan here. We’ve kind of played it safe all along. We’ve got a great engineering staff who has been doing their homework on this new car since we left Las Vegas last year. Yeah, we struggled to align ourselves with an engine manufacturer, but that didn’t mean we stopped working. We’ve worked really hard and continue to do so. I think all the simulation stuff we’ve done and all the R&D stuff we’ve done is paying off.” (About the maturity and professionalism of Newgarden and Clauson): “It’s honestly a great fit for us at SFHR, and both of them come from similar upbringing and backgrounds as Sarah and me. Both of them work really well together. They work extremely well with the engineering staff, and they give it 110 percent, even outside the race car whether it be nutrition, working out, simulations, listening to driver coaches, spending the time with the engineers. It’s a full-package deal and they’ve certainly brought everything to the table.”
1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier is at the track this weekend, helping rookie Jean Alesi learn more for his oval-racing debut.
BUDDY LAZIER: “It’s so cool, the month of May, Opening Day and now the second day, and these new cars look like a lot of fun. And for a race driver it is really fun to sort out a new car because there are so many different things you can play with, so it is hard to watch. It is just too painful for me to watch. When it isn’t painful anymore, then it is probably time (to walk away). But it looks like too much fun, and I would just love to be out there driving. Obviously, and at my age I’m still very open to driving a few more years, especially here at Indianapolis because it is such a special place.” (Are you looking for a ride?): “Yeah, sort of. But it is late, and there isn’t a lot of equipment. But trust me, if someone is looking for someone to put in a race car, I would love to be the one, that is for sure.” (About working with Jean Alesi, Lotus and Fan Force United team): “Yes, I am here in an official capacity helping out. A friend of mine put this together so I am helping out. But I am also talking to other guys, as well. But there just isn’t a lot of equipment floating around. It’s a new year with new cars and new motors, so there isn’t a lot of excess equipment. But you never know; I’m here.”
INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE QUOTES:
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 BraunAbility-Schmidt Pelfrey Motorsports Honda): (About practicing today at IMS after competing Saturday in the American Le Mans Series race at Monterey, Calif.): “It’s a good way to fix the jet lag. Running around Indianapolis Motor Speedway always feels good. No matter what you feel like before you get out there, it always works out. It’s great to just get a few laps in this new car, the first time on the track with the car. Everything went kind of according to plan. We took just one run. Now we’ve got to go talk about it and get to work on tweaking.” (How did the car feel compared to the last time you drove it in testing?): “Well, I was at Texas, which is a completely different kind of racetrack. All of the years of muscle memory I have have just been totally reset. This car feels a lot different.” (On his initial feedback for rookie and teammate Simon Pagenaud): “I was just telling him what my initial impressions are of the car. I know what I like around here in terms of a feel and so just trying to offer a little bit of feedback so he could understand what I want to get to in terms of a setup. I think it’s going to be great working with him. He’s a smart guy and pays attention to the details.” (Did anything about the new car catch you off-guard?): “The biggest thing, strangely enough, is the vibration of a V6 is quite a bit different. It’s a little bit harsher of a vibration, so it almost feels like you’ve got a tire imbalance when you don’t because you’re sitting in pit lane idling. Just the feel of the motor, the steering wheel, the brakes are different, pedal position; again, just resetting my muscle memory around here because every Indy 500 was in the same car, same motor, and this is a new package.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “We just shook down the primary Target car. We started off a bit slow, and we had to figure out a few issues we had. We sort of went back at it and made some progress. We didn’t really change the car too much, just a few mechanical things that we needed to get through. The last run there on my first timed lap, I came up behind Graham (Rahal) and I had a tow. I hadn’t had a tow, but that was a half-tow. My first couple of timed laps, the car seemed nice. It’s nice to drive. We’re on the same set of tires. It seems there are a few more cars running more laps and doing a little more race stuff yet. We’ll probably step into that the next couple of days. Just making sure all the systems are working and everything’s OK. Generally, I think both Team Target cars are doing pretty well. I think the car has speed in it. Until we get to Fast Friday and Pole Day, we really don’t know who’s going to be where.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83T NovoLog FlexPen Honda): “Today was another really good day at the Speedway. It got hotter and a windier this afternoon, which was good, because it allowed us to work on our race car a little bit preparing for a couple Sundays from now. I think we’ve got a pretty good race car, and we’ll continue to work toward qualifying later in the week. We’re going to change over to the primary NovoLog FlexPen car tonight. We’re being smart about our approach this month. Practice is important but not nearly as important as qualifying or the race.”
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 50 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “The basic focus of today was to shake down our primary car. We started making some smaller adjustments at the end of the session out there, but haven’t really gotten into the more in-depth changes to the Target car. We’ll start on that tomorrow.”
MIKE CONWAY (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “We didn’t really find any speed today, but we got through quite a few changes, which was good to feel what they do because it’s the first time we really explored some different areas. The ABC Supply car is better; it feels better every time we go out with the changes, but we just have to find more speed. We looked for it at the end there, but we went slower. So we have to find out what’s going on with the rear of the car because we seem to be wearing the rear brakes, and I’m sure that’s causing some drag. It could be part of it. We should be a bit quicker than we are. So we’ll explore that tonight and see what we find.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): “Obviously, I’m a rookie. I can tell you what I need to make the car go faster, but it’s always good to rely on someone like Townsend (Bell), who has experience here and has been running well. It’s reassuring, to be honest, because he seems to be saying the same things I’m saying. So that is good. The whole team is doing a great job. We’re only working on race trim right now. I feel more and more confident every day. I learn something every time I go out.”
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus HVM Racing Lotus): “I think it’s definitely better now that we’ve run more laps. I think it’s a lot of me just trying to get comfortable out there and things like that, so we’re working on that and taking our time. We’ve improved the car quite a bit, so I’m happy with that. I’m happy that the team is working with me to make improvements, so that’s good.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ Honda): “It’s been a good day for the Dale Coyne Racing cars. Obviously, we want to be quickest. But it’s practice, so we’re just trying to learn as much as we can and keep developing the 18 car to find that next step.” (About speeds): “Obviously, everyone is nervous; it’s a new car. You’re not sure what to expect. We had last year’s car for eight years, and I think they started out (the month) at 218 range and got up to 228 when we were finished. It just takes time to work out the details and fine-tune it. I think the speeds are going to be just fine in qualifying. This car is working well. Ours definitely seems to be very tune-able. It feels very much like last year’s car.”
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 41 ECat/ABC Supply Honda): “Today was productive. We struggled with Rookie Orientation on Thursday because we had a massive imbalance in the car, which we looked at and found at the end of the day. I was a bit leery going in this morning, but from the out lap I could tell we had made improvements in the car, so I was comfortable straightaway. We had to go through the last phase of Rookie Orientation, so we had to stay under 215. Then we started on the ECat/ABC Supply car for the day. It got hotter in the afternoon, so I lost a bit of speed, but we focused mostly on running by ourselves. Basically just trying to learn the car because we have no knowledge or background with the car, so we’re doing basic mechanical changes and trying to find what the car needs. We weren’t setting the world on fire. We didn’t try, but we made gains and I think we have a decent handle on what we need from the car and how it needs to be driven. It’s new for me and new for the team, so a relatively happy day.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 Team AFS Chevrolet): “I have to take the guys out for dinner tonight. More than anything, (Ryan) Hunter-Reay and Hinch (James Hinchcliffe), who were in the front. It’s exciting. We’ve been struggling the past couple of years, and so starting the month of May this way, it’s a very satisfying feeling. There’s some big strategy at Andretti Autosport, and we’re five cars and all of us, we have homework to do every day. We have things to try, and we sit down all together to see what works, what we need to try for the next day, but everything is a big strategy. Everything needs to be very well established. It’s the professional way to do it.”
RUBENS BARRICHELLO (No. 8 BMC/Embrase KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “It has been a bit of a different day. Early on we were able to improve our speed a little, but since then every change we have done hasn’t been a positive result. At the end of the day, I got Tony to drive my car because I needed to see if I was developing the car in the right way or not. He was getting the same speed as me, so that gives me more confidence to carry on my work. It is only the second day, and luckily at Indianapolis I have another week to practice.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 GEICO/Mouser Electronics KVRT Chevrolet): “We got some things accomplished today, but our work was limited because of the amount of track time we had. It is only the second day of practice, so we still have time to develop the car and find the extra speed we looking for. Hopefully we can have a productive day tomorrow as we prepare for qualifying this weekend.”
E.J. VISO (No. 5 CITGO/PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “It was a good day of practice. Once again, everything went as planned. We are focused on our program, developing new things for the car. I think tomorrow is going to be a pretty intense day, and I’m looking forward to continuing to make the same kind of progress we have made over the last two days.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “Saturday was a tough day for our team. Not one person here was happy after practice. The guys worked really hard last night and came up with a good program for today’s practice runs. We got off to a good start today and rebounded well. We still have a ways to go for next weekend to where we want to be. Today was a huge step forward from where we were Saturday. If we can gain half the progress in the next couple of days that we made today, we’ll be in a good position. We need to keep our heads down and keep working on the car. We must work on getting the Fuzzy’s Chevrolet a little faster. I think it will be a little work chasing down the Hondas, but I think we can do it.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team RC Cola Chevrolet): “Each (Andretti) car was on a different program today, so we could cover all of our bases and take advantage of having five cars. We stuck to single-car runs in the (No.) 26, so we didn’t show the same speed of the guys who were taking advantage of the tow from other cars. But everyone learned a lot from each other.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet): “It was a good first day for us. We did a lot of work on our own in single-car runs and then working on how the car handles in traffic and in race conditions. Each of Andretti Autosport crews worked really well as team today, as we tried to learn as much as we can between the five cars. We ran in tandem with (James) Hinchcliffe and Seb (Sebastian Saavedra), and we pulled Seb along in the tow for the fastest lap of the day.”
BRYAN CLAUSON (No. 39 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing/RW Honda): “If you had told me that we were going to come out here the first two days and top the speed charts, I would have told you that you were crazy. Another great day for us. These SFHR boys build fast Honda race cars. It’s been a lot of fun to step into a great situation for myself, and I’d like to say I was doing an awesome job, but they are making my job a heck of a lot easier with the race cars they put out there. I don’t know what else to say. It’s been a great start to the month, but we have a long way to go, and sometimes speed charts can lie a little bit, but we have a real fast race car. We did some long runs today, and I felt like we had a good balance. I’m a rookie, so I don’t know what to expect for the rest of the month, but I’m really confident.” (About taking advantage of INDYCAR’s USAC scholarship): “When Randy (Bernard) started this, I think this is what he was dreaming of, someone would win it two years in a row and be put in this position. Those six (Firestone) Indy Lights races last year have been so beneficial in coming here, especially running the Freedom 100 last year. It gives you such a baseline. Turn 1 is unlike anything else you experience as a race car driver at this place, and even if it’s at 189-190 mph in a Lights car, you still have that feeling to draw from. And yeah, you’re going 20-30 mph faster, but you’re still feeling the same things. That experience last year was huge, and hopefully we can keep this run at the top of the charts for another two weeks and make everyone on the USAC side proud.” (About doing double-duty, racing the Hoosier 100 on Miller Lite Carb Day at the Indy Mile): “The Hoosier 100 is still on the table, but if I keep this up, there’s a chance they are going to yank me from that. It’s been a great start to the month, but we’ll see how the month plays out, how things shake out. We’re here to focus on Indy, and at this point, we feel like we have a great opportunity to have a good result at the end of the month and have a special month at SFHR.” (When Sebastian Saavedra sat down at the podium): “Is that what happens to your hair when you go 221? I only went 220, and my hair is still flat.” (After Saavedra said he was buying dinner for the teammates who helped him go fastest today): “I think I was in there, too. When are we going?”
JAMES JAKES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “Another good day, really. The No. 19 Boy Scouts car is really working well here. I’ve had a great balance ever since I’ve run the car in the rookie day. We’ve just got to keep fine-tuning it and hopefully going in the right direction, and we should be in a good position for qualifying.” (On the challenge of this being the first oval he’s driven with new car): “Yeah, I hadn’t driven this car on the ovals. The first time I did was in the rookie day. I think, from a driving point of view, it’s not that difficult. But from a setup point of view for the teams, obviously, it’s more difficult. The guys had those cars for a long time, 10 years. After you’ve perfected something for that length of time and then you throw in a new start, it’s good. It’s good for the series. Everyone’s got a clean sheet of paper.” (Has anything surprised you with the new car, good or bad?): “To be honest, how the car has handled so far here has been up to my expectations, really. The car is generating more downforce from the floor than previous years, so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be handling good around here. It’s so high speed. I think I’d like to work on the balance of my car a little more in traffic. But apart from that, I think we’ve got a strong package. The DW12 is performing well here.” (Will adding horsepower Friday change the balance of the car at all?): “I personally am not too keen on the idea. I don’t see why we should be working all week leading up to Friday just to change the car 50 more horsepower. I think, at the end of the day, my personal opinion is that it shouldn’t be about the speed. I think it should be about the show we put on for the fans. If we’re putting on a good show at 215 mph versus a poor show at 225 mph, then I’m sure they would take it. I think the show is more important and getting the cars working together on the track. Having a good race is more important than having a huge top speed.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): “It was tough yesterday watching everyone else drive and sitting on the sidelines, so it was nice to get out there today. From the word ‘go’ the car was really good. The Andretti Autosport guys have obviously done a lot of hard work over the winter. When we first got these cars in December and January, we put one aside just for Indy and have been working on that thing for the last four months, so a huge credit to them. We had the GoDaddy car running well on its own and running well in traffic. We did some traffic simulations and some race simulations, so we’ll see. There’s still a lot to do. There’s a lot to learn with this new car. We’re coming off a car we had eight or nine years of data with, so we are literally going through everything step by step getting ready for the race. There’s a lot of learning to do in the next couple of days to get ready for qualifying and the race, but so far everything is good.”
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 25 Team Ipiranga Chevrolet): “It was, I think, a good day with the Ipiranga car. It was a little bit tough to start. Marco (Andretti) did a check in my car; it felt a little unbalanced. We worked that out this afternoon, and I believe we found a good balance at the end. Now we can be more aggressive downforce-wise, so I’m looking forward to longer runs tomorrow and running in traffic.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): “It was a good day. There was a chance of rain in the forecast initially, but it stayed dry and we were able to get a lot of work done. We verified quite a few setup changes, tried all of the setup changes we wanted and made good progress. We ran a good number of laps with decent speed. I am happy to hand over the testing to Michel (Jourdain). We were working on a bit of both the qualifying and race setup; basically general car setup.”
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (No. 30 Office Depot/RLL Racing Honda): “Today was a short day for me. Yesterday I did most of the running, and Takuma ran in the afternoon. Today he did most of the running, and I ran a little bit in the afternoon. The car felt really weird, so we are going to check it over tonight. It felt very, very different from yesterday, which sometimes happens at superspeedways. We tried to make some changes from yesterday, but we will go back and check to make sure all of the settings are all right. We still have many days before qualifying, so I am looking forward to working on the setup more.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet): “Today wasn’t much different than yesterday. We will continue to work on the Shell Pennzoil car to make small changes as we go. The track changed a little with the wind today, so that was good to see. We will keep learning a little but every day to get better.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The Verizon car was good today. This was the best track you’ll get as far as conditions go. We will take what we learned today and use it to get better tomorrow.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet): “Yeah, the No. 2 IZOD crew continues to do a great job pulling more power out of the car. Obviously, we still need to get more, but I’m confident that come Race Day we will have the car we need. Today was a good day to build on leading into tomorrow.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): “Finishing second and third today shows how competitive SFHR is. Our consistency and speed solidifies the job that they do and how well they go about it. We’re learning a lot more having a second car here, and it’s really elevated the program overall. I feel super-comfortable in the car because the team makes me feel comfortable. They’ve done a great job of giving us a good program and making it easy on us.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 22 Panther DRR Chevrolet): “It was a good day. It’s Indy, and knowing that the weather looks good, it’s easy to get carried away and try to do too many things too early. We are just trying to pace ourselves and learn every step and make sure that we do each step well. We did some steps today and there’s more to do. I’m really happy with the progress, and I’m also happy to see that JR (Hildebrand) has definitely very good speed, which we can keep learning from and sharing. There are still things that we want to try just to see how it feels, since it’s our first time in the DW12 on an oval regardless if it’s the right direction or not. Overall, I’m very happy like yesterday. We had another solid, mistake-free day, and we just need to keep checking off the boxes.”
A total of 37 cars are at the Speedway, with 27 passing technical inspection and six in the process. Thirty-one drivers have been on the track to date and turned 1,138 laps today and 1,831 laps this month. Wade Cunningham turned 58 laps today, most of any driver. There were five cautions for a total of 51 minutes today.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Indianapolis 500 Mile on May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be televised by ABC at 11a.m. (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network on SiriusXM (XM 94 and Sirius 212). The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 25 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be televised live by NBC Sports Network at Noon (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network.