By Amy Konrath
INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, May 17, 2012) – Following six days of practice totaling 35 sun-splashed hours on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it’s time for teams to literally switch gears.
INDYCAR, the sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series, approved an increase in the turbocharger boost level for “Fast Friday” on May 18 and the May 19-20 time trials for the Indianapolis 500 from 130 kPa (kilopascals) to 140 kPa. The increase will add 40-50 horsepower to the 2.2-lter, turbocharged V-6 engines supplied by Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus, resulting in an increase of 4-5 mph per lap. The boost level will be returned to 130 kPa for the 200-lap race May 27.
Teams/drivers continued to work on race set-ups and simulations May 17 (the session was delayed an hour at the start for Katherine Legge to start her Rookie Orientation Program).
Scott Dixon, the 2008 race winner, was quickest on the day with a lap of 40.3428 seconds (223.088 mph; second-quickest of the month) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.
Josef Newgarden, who was quickest a day earlier, was second on the speed chart (40.1115 seconds, 222.709 mph) in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman/Dollar General car. Graham Rahal jumped to third late in the session with a month-best 222.080 mph, and IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Will Power (221.932) was fourth. Justin Wilson finished fifth at 221.715 mph.
Twenty-nine drivers recorded 1,391 laps without incident.The 2.5-mile oval is open for practice from noon-6 p.m. May 18, with Pole Day qualifying featuring the top-nine shootout commencing at noon May 19.
DAY 6 NOTEBOOK:
INDYCAR, the sanctioning body for the IZOD IndyCar Series, confirmed today that it has approved an engine partner change for Dragon Racing.
The team will transfer from Lotus to Chevrolet power for the entries driven by Sebastien Bourdais and Katherine Legge. The change is effective immediately.
Lotus and Dragon Racing have worked together to find a solution they are both happy with.
INDYCAR officials will make provisions for Legge to begin the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program today. Bourdais will need to complete an Indianapolis 500 refresher program, which can be conducted anytime the track is open for practice.
RANDY BERNARD (CEO, INDYCAR): “We are pleased to see this issue resolved as we head into the final practice days in advance of qualifying. I have to thank all parties for working together to help preserve the traditions of the Indianapolis 500.”
With his allegiances split between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers, 2004 IZOD IndyCar champion Tony Kanaan got a gift from WRTV-TV’s Dave Furst that will help him support both teams.
While appearing in a live interview with Furst, TV sports anchor Furst presented Kanaan with a No. 11 “Heana” jersey combining a yellow Pacers jersey with a black Heat jersey as well as tickets to tonight’s Game 3 of their NBA Eastern Conference semifinal at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
“We’re giving this to you as a Heat fan and a Pacer fan,” Furst said as he gave Kanaan the jersey in the KV Racing Technology garage after practice Wednesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“That’s me,” Kanaan answered as he donned the jersey for the rest of the interview. “I am wearing it tomorrow, and Sunday and the next game, too.”
Kanaan, who splits his time between homes in Miami and Indianapolis, has become a fan of both the Heat and the Pacers over the last few years. He said the jersey will help him stay neutral until one team advances.
“With the history between the both of our teams, I didn’t expect they’d be playing each other in the playoffs, especially with their records the past few years,” Kanaan said. “My heart is divided, but when you have your two teams playing each other, it’s a win-win situation for me.”
•The car name for #67 Josef Newgarden is Sarah Fisher Hartman/Dollar General.
•The entrant name for #39 Bryan Clauson is Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing/Curb Agajanian.
•The car name for #39 Bryan Clauson is Sarah Fisher Hartman/Curb Agajanian.
•Both Dragon Racing entries (#6 Legge, #7 Bourdais) are powered by Chevrolet engines.
INDYCAR officials are extending Rookie Orientation Program until 1 p.m. today, when practice will open for all cars.
Teams are preparing for an increase in turbocharger boost levels for “Fast Friday” and the two days of qualifications for the Indianapolis 500. The standard boost level of 130 kPa (kilopascals) for superspeedways will be upped to 140 kPa for the Friday, May 18 practice session, Pole Day on Saturday, May 19 and Bump Day on Sunday, May 20. The increase will result in the addition of 40-50 horsepower.
The boost level will be 130 kPa for all other practice days and Race Day, Sunday, May 27.
Ben Bretzman, the lead engineer for the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda driven by Simon Pagenaud, talked about possible changes to the setup of the car to prepare for the extra boost.
BEN BRETZMAN: “The biggest thing, honestly, will be gearing. We’re going to go quite a bit faster, so we’re going to need to make sure we have the gears right. Unfortunately, we’re not going to have a lot of running on it. It’s up to simulations and what information Honda can give us on how fast they think we might go based on just general power. We have to gear the car correctly for that. From a chassis standpoint, it’s a bit of an unknown. It will get a little bit more load in the corner because you’ll be going faster, so you might need to adjust the platform. But in general, we’ll just need to make sure we are geared right.”
Rob Weissert of Indianapolis was the honorary starter today. Weissert is attending the Indianapolis 500 for the 48th time. He is the grandson of Homer Cochran, who was instrumental in introducing Tony Hulman to Wilbur Shaw when Eddie Rickenbacker was selling the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1945.
INDYCAR officials are continuing Rookie Orientation Program from 6-6:40 p.m. today.
Indianapolis 500 winners Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon and “500” veterans Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball surprised a group of female Indianapolis media members this morning by serving as the drivers during their rides in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater around the IMS oval.
Participating media: Brittany Diehl (FOX 59-TV), Jenny Anchondo (FOX 59-TV), Vanessa McClure (FOX 59-TV), Ericka Flye (WRTV-TV), Stephanie Ortmann (WRTV-TV), Tammy Lively (WFMS-FM), Ashley Adamson (WISH-TV), Adrienne Broaddus (WISH-TV), Jennie Runevitch (WTHR-TV), Leslie Bailey (freelance writer, Indianapolis Monthly, Indianapolis Star) and Amanda Groce (blogger).
Indianapolis 500 veteran Vitor Meira has been at the Speedway the last two days in hopes of landing a drive in this year’s race. Meira, a 10-time Indianapolis 500 starter, twice has finished second in the “500.”
VITOR MEIRA: “I’m trying to get back into a car. A good car. I respect this place too much to come here and just drive around. We’re trying to put together a program, even as late as it seems, but it has to be the right car, so that it’s a bit less hectic. I’m waiting and we’ll see what happens.”
INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE QUOTES:
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 BraunAbility-Schmidt Pelfrey Motorsports Honda): (About changes due to increased boost Friday through Sunday): “Well, we expect it to be faster, and we’ll be disappointed if it’s not. Other than that, I think the engineers have a reasonable projection on what to expect, and I’m optimistic that we’re sitting well placed to handle it.” (You want Indy cars to be faster. So are you happy with the increased boost?): “The chance to go qualify as fast as you think the car can go at Indianapolis is what it’s all about. I don’t think we’ll be flirting with any track records just yet, but I think it’s a step in the right direction. Speed is what our sport is all about.”
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus HVM Racing Lotus): “Today we tried a little different setup, and it was pretty good. I think we found a little bit of speed. We’re just working through the program, and I think it was a good day. We know where we are. We’re just taking it slow and getting ready for qualifying to get in the show. Then we’ll see for the race.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman/Dollar General Honda): “Today we only worked on race setup. We’ll start back on qualifying tomorrow when we get the boost. We just picked up today where we left off yesterday and continued working in the race direction. We’ve had a great week, and we just need to continue what we’ve been doing. SFHR has done a great job. They’ve built a quick, beautiful Dollar General race car. The Honda power has been quick and reliable. We’ve just got to keep up the work this weekend and put it all together next Sunday for the race.”
BRYAN CLAUSON (No. 39 Sarah Fisher Hartman/Curb Agajanian Honda): “We worked a lot with our teammate, Josef, today and tried to utilize each other to see how the car would work in traffic. In one run, it was just Josef and I together, and then in another run we tagged on to a big pack. We made some gains today on how our car handled in traffic, and we learned about what we need to do as drivers to maximize their performance.”
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 98 Team Barracuda-BHA Honda): “The Team Barracuda-BHA car was good today. We learned a lot of things in traffic, and we definitely have some work to do there. Early in the morning we did a little bit of a run on qualifying trim, and it seems to be OK. So we’re in the game, but I think we have a little bit more work to do on our race car to be consistent and better in turbulence.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It’s nice, I think we’ve taken this week a little slower. We didn’t have the speed; these speeds are all big tows, so it doesn’t really matter much. For us, we’re just working on the race car, and I think we’ve made big improvements on how it feels. For me, I feel happy because we made the car feel a lot nicer to drive, and especially in traffic it pulls up better, I think. Tomorrow and Saturday are going to be totally different stories to see who’s got what out there by themselves, so that will be interesting. But all in all, I think Honda and Team Target are doing pretty well.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet): “Not a bad day, really. It was nice to get more running in after a quiet Wednesday. We did a lot of race setup work with our IZOD car today, and we are learning a lot, finding more of the things we will need come Race Day.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “Today was our last chance until Sunday – and I hope the weather stays good until Sunday – it was our last chance to try race setups and understand what the car does in traffic. We did two full runs, basically.” (About running in traffic): “It’s the opposite to what was said in the preseason. I think you can run closer with this car than with the old car. It punches a massive hole in the air, so the tow effect is huge. You could be leading doing a 217 and the guy behind you could be 5 mph quicker.” (On Race Day, you’ll want to be in the back?): “You have to be second, if not first. It’s hard to say if you can put a move on. It will be a very tight race because I don’t think anyone will get left behind.” (What is the plan for tomorrow): “We’ll get out and start to understand what the car is like with more boost. It will be full focus on qualifying.” (How challenging has the new car been to drive here): “It hasn’t been (a challenge). It’s been more of a challenge to understand the setups. As far as driving, it’s been a bit easier. It’s more grip and less power, so it’s stuck more to the road. You have less chance of making a mistake. Josef Newgarden yesterday made a mistake, and that’s the first I’ve seen. The car is pretty forgiving. It’s stuck. You get a big draft and lose some grip. I think it will be a good race, and once it’s said and done, it will be like last year.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet): “Today was good. Our Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra car was really consistent. Most of our day was spent doing race setup work so that we can focus on qualifying tomorrow. We made a lot of major steps in the right direction, and we are looking forward tomorrow since we will be getting some additional power, per the rules. We should be in good shape moving towards Saturday.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “We definitely made progress with the car today and found some more grip. I think we improved our race setup a lot from where we were previously. So that is encouraging, as we got a lot done today. With some of the things that helped the race car, we felt it would be better for our qualifying setup. But it wasn’t the case. But we are definitely within the speed that we want for the race. We’ll work on the qualifying setup tomorrow with the extra boost for the turbo and be ready for the Saturday time trials.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central Honda): “The Service Central boys had a great day. We worked on a couple things we needed to, we found out a lot. We worked on our race cars, and we’re pretty happy with it. We’re excited to move on and work on some qualifying stuff. Come Sunday, when we get back to race trim, I think we’re going to have a good car.”
MIKE CONWAY (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “We made some significant gains from yesterday to today in terms of speed; we seemed to have found a couple miles an hour. We’ve been trimming out a bit more today which obviously helped. I think to run high 218s was pretty good. Other cars around us seemed pretty similar. Some were a little quicker, so we have something to aim for. We’re glad we found more speed. We did a little bit of race setup at the end, so it was nice to get a feel for what it’s like, and it felt pretty good. We have to work on that, as well, but the main focus today was to get speed out of the car. At the end, we thought we’d try running in traffic. We picked up some tows there running together.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): “We had another productive day of race simulation, ran a couple of sets of tires and made some good progress. It was great to be out there with my teammates. We have a really good race car, and I can’t wait to see tomorrow when we get a little more boost. It’s supposed to warm up tomorrow and be hot on Saturday and, the hotter it gets, the quicker we go. We just keep asking for more from the No.83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi team them, and they just keep giving me more. You know, it’s great, and it’s great to have a really good team behind me.”
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 41 ECat/ABC Supply Honda): “We rolled out full race setup. It was the first time we’d run full tanks, so we matched tires with the fuel loads, full race downforce. We made some attempts at it yesterday, but we improved the gearing a little bit for the race downforce. We were trying to get the package in the window, and we were a lot closer so in the draft we were able to produce a stronger time than yesterday. I’m pretty pleased with the balance of the car. Mike did some solo running this morning to figure out if we’d made some improvements in the setup and everything, and we definitely have. Tomorrow when we start working on qualifying trim we can go the direction Mike did this morning and show the same kind of gains. A positive end to the week so far.”
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (No. 30 Office Depot/RLL Racing Honda): “Today was good. We tried some things in traffic, but I think the car was a little bit better in the pack yesterday than today. It was good to try new things even though they didn’t work; its valuable information. Tomorrow we are going to trim, and we will see how far we can get. There is a limit on the rear wing on what we can do. There are a lot of other things that you can do mechanically and aerodynamically. I don’t know how far we will get because we haven’t worked at all on the qualifying setup and only have one day to do that. A lot of guys have been working more aggressively on that. Takuma has been working on it, and hopefully that will reduce our learning curve.”
JEAN ALESI (No. 64 Lotus-FP Journe-Fan Force United Lotus): “Today was a day for preparing to compete in traffic. I tried to follow some cars. I feel happy to run with cars. Less lonely (laughs). Now tomorrow we have to prepare for qualifying. Every day is new for me, so I go step by step.”
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 50 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “We had a pretty good car last night, and we tried a lot of different stuff today and managed to make it worse. Right at the end there, we made a couple of changes and got it better again. I think we’re probably back to where we were last night, which is not a bad place. Tomorrow is obviously changing, turning the boost up, and we’re going to go toward qualifying, so tomorrow is a whole different program. The extra horsepower will be nice. We’ll balance the car out and see what we’ve got. What we tried doing all day (Thursday) was trying to run in traffic, and it got a bit hectic there at the end. It’s the usual story. Some guys you can go out there and run with and some you just can’t, and it never changes.” (Are you feeling more of a tow with these cars than you have in previous years?): “Yeah, this car, definitely. It has a bit more of a wake to it and so it drafts up a bit better.”
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 25 Team Ipiranga Chevrolet): “It looks like we found some speed in the car. We ran by ourselves, and I’m happy with what we accomplished. Of course, tomorrow is going to be a different day, but I think we moved a step forward. It was great to have Michael (Andretti) in our pit helping us a lot today, and I think we found some speed, so today was very important for the Ipiranga car.”
KATHERINE LEGGE (No. 6 TrueCar Dragon Racing Chevrolet): “It’s unbelievably satisfying (to get through two phases of ROP). This morning, we had a small issue with the car, but we were still able to complete the first phase. The team has done a great job. They are all really tired, and they worked really hard to put the engine in and get all the bits on to get us out. So it’s thanks to them that we were able to do what we did today. And also Sebastien (Bourdais). He shook down the car and made sure everything was fixed from this morning. I can go home now very happy.”
KYLE MOYER (General manager, Andretti Autosport): (About limited running today by team): “We’re really happy with our cars in race trim. Other than a few runs on opening weekend, we spent almost the entire week of practice working on our cars in traffic, preparing for the race. So now we’re getting them ready for qualifying. We’ll have more boost tomorrow, so there wasn’t much reason to simulate qualifying runs until then.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): “We always knew we were going to get on track late today. I think we were hoping to get on track and get at least one real run or two getting ready for tomorrow with proper boost, but we had a small problem that we found, and we wanted to make sure everything was right before we hit the track properly. So we only got out for an install today, but that means the Go Daddy car is ready to rock tomorrow with the extra boost, and that’s when it’s really going to matter.” (How did you spend your down time today?): “Today I got through a lot of HBO and ate probably too much junk food; but probably my biggest accomplishment of the day is … I’ve seen all these really famous racing drivers that can walk and do their autograph really well, and I’ve tried it, and it looks like I’m having some sort of mild seizure with a pen in my hand when you look at it afterward. Just walking back from my half a lap that we did right at the end of the day today, for some reason I decided to keep walking while signing and it turned out really well, and then someone else gave me something and it turned out really well, and then I did one more. I did three in a row that were legible with my autograph whilst walking, so I was pretty happy about that. But I think I’m going to stick to my stationary autographs when I can.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL SunDrop Citrus Soda Chevrolet): “For qualifying, everything’s reset. Tomorrow, we will take our time and make a series of changes, slowly removing downforce on the car. We’ll continue to work with our teammates to get into the best possible condition for qualifying.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team RC Cola Chevrolet): “I think we’ll be good. We’ve been fast all week in traffic, and I think we have a real good shot to make it into the Fast Nine. If all of the little changes we made work today, we’ll be good.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 Team AFS Chevrolet): “We were able to use our time off-track today to focus on our racing and learn things from the past days. I got together with my teammates to see what has been working well for them. The whole AFS Racing team has been working very hard today to get the car in its greatest condition. I am anxious to get on the track tomorrow for Fast Friday and see what we can do.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): “We ran less today than we did all of the other days, but the balance of the car felt good. We looked at all of the data we collected since early this morning, and step-by-step, we picked the things we liked. I am happy with our work today. It was great preparation for Fast Friday.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 22 Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet): “I’ll say it very simply: We wanted to do a race simulation, and we got together with the Penske guys and JR (Hildebrand). We wanted to work on the race car all day, and we were hoping to finish with a good feel, and I’m finishing with the happiest balance I’ve had all week. It was very consistent through the whole stint and life of the tires and fuel. It’s going to be an interesting race because I think that we are going to be in a pack, but it will be a good one. I’m very happy with not only how the car feels, but the work we did all day today with all of the fine tuning. We definitely ended the day with a good car.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 GEICO/Mouser Electronics KVRT Chevrolet): “We worked well together as a team today and found a couple of improvements. Our focus will now shift tomorrow and Saturday on our qualifying setup and then back to race setup on Sunday. This is a difficult track, you go through a lot of up-and-down emotions, and this place can get to your head. So we just need to keep it calm and have a good weekend.”
RUBENS BARRICHELLO (No. 8 BMC/Embrase KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “It has been a better day. We made some changes to the car, which helped increase my speed, and I also ran in traffic, which was good. I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel now that the speeds are getting better, which makes me happy.”
E.J. VISO (No. 5 CITGO/PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “I have to take today as a positive day after having two difficult days. Today we clicked most of the things we tried. This puts us in a better position to continue the work and improvement of the car tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day we need to put everything together and prepare the car for qualifying on Saturday. Then hopefully, Sunday we can finish working on our race setup and be ready to go.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 Dragon Racing Chevrolet): “It’s great to be back, but if you had asked me that this morning, I would have had a different answer. We had something that completely messed the car up, and it made for the toughest car that I’ve ever driven. We struggled to run 209, and I wasn’t really comfortable at all. I’m just glad we found the reason and now we are good to go. The car is easy to drive and has a good balance. We can drive flat out and not even think about, which is what you want around here. Pretty happy with that.” (Last time you were only had a week of practice, as well. Any concerns with getting up to speed?): “With the way the car is now, it’s fine. Engineer Neil (Fife) has a lot of experience, and the setup was spot-on. Once we found the problem, the car was spot-on. By Lap 3, we were flat, and I was happy with that. We still have a lot of downforce, but the balance was back, and everything is all right. Tomorrow will be a different deal with the increased boost level, but I can’t say we feel ready for anything right now. But we have a good baseline, and we won’t worry too much about qualifying setup. We’ll just do as much running as we can, get some data work on the car and traffic and go from there.”
A total of 37 cars are at the Speedway, with 33 passing technical inspection. Thirty-three drivers have been on the track to date and turned 1,506 laps today and 7,770 laps since Opening Day this month. Michel Jourdain Jr. turned 92 laps today, most of any driver. There were three cautions for a total of 22 minutes today.
FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local):
Indianapolis 500 practice
Pole Day qualifying draw, Coca-Cola Stage
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.