Speed increase on Day 2 at Indy Seven rookies passed muster and another half-dozen breezed through their refresher programs. Soon afterward – on a cloudy and cool afternoon – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway came to life with 33 drivers getting the green flag to seek the speed necessary to pocket the $175,000 pole prize and the consistency to attain a bigger payday May 30.
Day 2 of practice for the Indianapolis 500 was interrupted a few times for moisture on the mammoth racing surface, but it didn’t drench lap speeds. For the second day in a row, Helio Castroneves paced the field with a lap of 227.046 mph (39.6395 seconds) and six topped 225 mph.
"Despite the weather, with it raining off and on, we were still able to work on some areas to make the car better for the race," Castroneves said. "It's always good to be out there learning something. On the fast lap, I just put myself in a good position to get a good draft and we wound up with a faster lap than yesterday (226.603 mph)."
Practice for all entrants continues May 17 (noon-6 p.m. ET) in preparation for new two-stage Pole Day qualifications May 22.
The seven drivers completed the four-phase Rookie Orientation Program, which consists 10 laps each of 200-205 mph, 205-210 mph, 210-215 mph, 215+ mph and is mandatory in order to be eligible to compete in the Indianapolis 500. They then joined in the all-skate session for the remaining three hours.
Overall, 1,375 laps were recorded with a lone incident in which Dan Wheldon’s No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car made contact with the Turn 4 SAFER Barrier. He was sixth quick (224.583 mph) at the time of the incident.
“It’s obviously not the way you want to start the second day at Indianapolis,” said Wheldon, who bruised his right foot in the incident. “I think the team is very well prepared for this month and everyone could see the National Guard Panther Racing car’s pretty quick.”
So are a number of others. Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon (226.202) and Dario Franchitti (226.044) followed Castroneves, who is seeking a record-tying fourth 500 Mile Race victory. Will Power, the IZOD IndyCar Series points leader driving the No. 12 Verizon team Penske entry, emerged with a best lap of 225.600 mph, and Tony Kanaan was fifth at 225.524 mph in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car for Andretti Autosport.
“The weather could be much different next weekend so we’ll have to wait and see if what we learned today is helpful for qualifying,” Power said. “All the Team Penske cars seem to be quick, and we’ll continue to fine-tune things so we’re prepared when it comes time to qualify.”
Mario Moraes, seeking to qualify for his third Indy 500, also topped 225 mph in the No. 32 KV Racing Technology car (225.043) – one of four entries for the team co-owned by Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven.
“We are right where we want to be with our settings,” Moraes said. “Our team is working on a variety of things with each of the drivers. We’ll continue to work on our program that was laid out for us before we came to the track this month.”
Ryan Briscoe (224.559), Marco Andretti (224.489) and Graham Rahal (224.320) also were in the top 10. A.J. Foyt Racing’s Vitor Meira and A.J. Foyt IV were in the top 15, while Townsend Bell (like Foyt an Indy 500-only participant) was 12th in the No. 99 Herbalife Ganassi/Schmidt Racing car.
“Today was the first day that we really started working on se up -- on the ‘500’ program,” said Meira, who last year suffered broken vertebrae in a Race Day crash. “It was very good, we tried different setups, learned about the setups that we have, they’re both good but one is better than the other.”
Ana Beatriz (22nd at 221.705), who has competed in the past two Firestone Freedom 100 races at the Speedway, led the rookies.
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): "Today was a good day for Team Penske. Despite the weather, with it raining off and on, we were still able to work on some areas to make the car better for the race. It's always good to be out there learning something. On the fast lap, I just put myself in a good position to get a good draft, and we wound up with a faster lap than yesterday."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): "Today was the first day that we really started working on setup on the 500 program. It was very good. We tried different setups, learned about the setups that we have. They're both good, but one is better than the other. We are pleased with the day because we learned a lot. I think we'll be in good shape so it was a good first step."
DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): "I'm not 100 percent sure what happened. We'll have to go back and look at the data. It's obviously not the way you want to start the second day at Indianapolis. I think the team are very well prepared for this month, and everyone could see the National Guard Panther Racing car's pretty quick." (About his foot): "It's bruised. I whacked it on the side of the tub. It's one of those things. Sometimes you hit really hard and you don't get knocked up at all and sometimes you have those little hits, and I think when I went into the wall it banged my foot against the side of the tub. Just bruising. Nothing big." (Does this hurt with the condensed schedule?): "We have plenty of time. I think the team will bounce back real quickly. We have two great crews, and unfortunately, it's created a lot of work for them, but if anyone can rebound quickly, it's the National Guard boys."
DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 21 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing): "It was good to get some laps in. We chose to do the veteran refresher with the rookies. We shook the car down pretty good. Actually, it was pretty easy. But it's always Indy. The setup I had I figured I would have another mile an hour of speed in it. We are now doing a motor change. This motor we're putting in it now is good for all of the way through qualifying. If we could just add a little more steam and we hope we could find a few little things - if I could only have one more mile an hour. Who doesn't say that all of the time, right? We had to do a motor change because the motor we had in it was just for the refresher. And now that we do the motor change, we're on the same page as everybody else as far as mileage."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske): "We had a solid day in the No. 6 Team Penske car. We ran lots of laps, and we actually made some good adjustments on the set-up for our race car. We made progress in the direction we will be working toward tomorrow. Things are going well. We are working through our list and moving forward."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "We turned some quality laps today in the Verizon car, and a 225.600 (mph) average speed makes for a solid lap. We were able to turn 28 laps today despite losing some time with a radio issue that the guys had to fix. The weather could be much different next weekend, so we'll have to wait and see if what we learned today is helpful for qualifying. All the Team Penske cars seem to be quick, and we'll continue to fine-tune things so we're prepared when it comes time to qualify."
ALEX LLOYD (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America): "We're still in race trim. We started in a little neutral, maybe a little loose. We have dialed the car, so it's pretty good in the little bit of traffic we found. We're not going to trim out and go for speed to stick with our plan. Compared to the first day (Saturday), we found our car has changed a bit. The track conditions brought out some potential issues that we didn't see yesterday, which is good, because that gives us a chance to work on it. This track changes every day. There's always a subtle change that affects the balance of the car. I'm sure we'll go out Monday, and it will be different again. That's how it is. Hopefully by the end of the month you have run in enough different conditions that you can piece it all together for Race Day."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 30 The Quick Trim/RLR Special): "We got some more speed out of it today, but the biggest thing is that it is still early. There's more in it, and we're the conservative side among the teams out here. I think we all feel pretty good about where we are right now. Certainly, there's more time and there are things that we haven't done yet that should mean more speed, but we're taking our time and getting where we need to be."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 41 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): "I think our first day on the track went well. It's great that A.J. (Foyt) and (engineer) Jeff Britton gave me a good solid car to start with straight off, and having Vitor helping out with the setups too after he gets done with practice is great, too. The ABC car's really solid and actually pretty fast, so we're happy with where we are right now. I think we can make small changes on it from here to try to find a little bit more speed and be pretty good." (About being back in the car after being out for so long): "It took about five or six laps on my first hard run, but it was exciting and it was fun. I was excited to be able to get back out there and try to run fast. It's just a thrill -everything speeds up really fast, and you just feel like you're going super-fast once you've been out of the car for so long. But then as you go along throughout the day, it slows back down and feels back to normal."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Team Window World): "We really focused on running race setups today. We haven't gone into qualifying runs yet. I think we've got a really good balance on the Window World Dallara. We got in some traffic, moved around and just tried a couple of different things to test downforce. The weather conditions right now are almost ideal - overcast and very little wind. A lot of people are advantage of the track time and we're one of them. We look forward to the start tomorrow."
JAY HOWARD (No. 66 Service Central/Sarah Fisher Racing): (About completing all four phases of rookie orientation): "It went very good, exactly how we planned. It's always nice when that happens. Hats off to the guys, they did a great job, and the car was very comfortable for me. I was told to slow down. It's a little frustrating especially when the car feels so much better when you're going faster. But rules are the rules, and we need to abide by them. The (ROP) lets us go out there with as minimum cars as possible, get the feel of track and the car. Then for the rest of the month, it's game on."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 29 William Rast/Bryan Herta Autosport): "I am very happy to complete all phases of Rookie Orientation. I felt very comfortable with the car and the speeds at every step. Once we completed the program, we started to focus on the car and began to take downforce off so I can learn what a real Indy car feels like around Indianapolis. It was a great day overall, and I am very happy. We had some problems in the morning (fuel pump), but the team did an incredible job to make the repairs in a short amount of time. I am looking forward to tomorrow. It was great. It was very exciting. It is something I was looking forward to for a long time. We were able to pass the rookie test and now for another phase of the Indy 500 - setting up the car. I'm just loving it, everything, not only being around, but what's happening inside it. All the people, the fans, and I feel very comfortable with the car and with the team, I am able to see them working. It's something I will always remember."
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 Herbalife Ganassi/Schmidt Racing): "It's Indy. You know it's going to rain. You get used to it. We have lots of time. I will have more time on the track than I did last year. To me, it feels like we're still on schedule with where we are. I feel we're still on schedule. It will be nice when we are able to refine the package." (About running in practice): "We didn't get to run very much. We only did 20 laps today, and I think I only followed someone for three laps. But so far it feels the same (as last year). I feel like I am 99.9 percent comfortable being on the track. If I had to race tomorrow, I'd be ready."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Panasonic Formula Dream): "We worked on the race setup mostly at the beginning of the day. I was very happy behind one car. I wasn't in huge traffic yet, but at least I was behind one or two cars and the car was quite good, so I'm happy. We came back to the garage and changed the car a little bit and went back out late in the day. We didn't trim all the way but trimmed a little bit for qualifying, and the time was quite decent. We still have more to trim but we now have a clear picture of what we should do tomorrow. We were only able to run six laps when we went back out because of the rain, but it gives us some direction for tomorrow. The lap time at the end was when I was running on my own without a draft, so I think the Formula Dream/Panasonic team is in good shape."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven): "Today was OK. It was a smooth day. We're still working toward getting a good balance for the Team 7-Eleven car, but it's still early. It's only Sunday, and we still have six days to go until the 'first' big day."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD): "We threw some things at the IZOD car today that really didn't get the results we were looking for, so we're going to make some big changes for tomorrow and see what that does for us. It's just another part of the process. The good thing is that we're getting all this stuff done somewhat early. The team is working really hard and they always give me great race cars, so we're stay after it."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com): "Today's practice was very productive overall. The GoDaddy car has been consistent during the first two days, so we have been able to try out a few different setups, which is good. Hopefully the rain doesn't become too much of an issue this week."
MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology): "Our day was just fine. We are right where we want to be with our settings. We are just getting up to speed for the second day. Our team is working on a variety of things with each of the drivers. We'll continue to work on our program that was laid out for us before we came to the track this month."
E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA-Jet Aviation-KV Racing Technology): "We had another smooth second day. Of course, the weather played with us a little today. We were able to go through all of the changes we wanted for the day. We are still very conservative on our downforce levels. It's too early to pull out all of the downforce off the car. Right now, the puzzle pieces are coming together for us."
PAUL TRACY (No. 15 GEICO - KV Racing Technology): "We took a methodical approach with our GEICO-KV Racing car. We ran race setup all today. Our KV Racing team wanted me to get close with other cars for a feeling in race trim. This team is really working well together as Mario (Moraes) and E.J. (Viso) were working more on the qualifying setup. We got Takuma (Sato) through his rookie test, so he can get into the race mode now. We have cars spread across the grid for setups."
MARIO ROMANCINI (No. 34 Conquest Racing): "I think the most important thing is we were able to get some good track time. I did almost 120 laps, which is what we were looking for. Today we were able to go through all of the phases they were asking us to do for the rookie test. It's good because at the end of the session I was feeling good with the car, feeling comfortable. Now I am ready to start working on the setup, so tomorrow we start the week before qualifying and we'll have plenty of time to work on the car. It was a good learning day, most of all. We are going to try and find more speed. You always need to trim out the car and be careful. We'll go step by step. As we are getting more and more comfortable, we'll start making bigger changes on the car."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "We really haven't been beyond the shakedown phase with the 10 car. We haven't had many laps. We have less than 30 laps in the two cars on the track in two days. We will get serious about it tomorrow. The car feels pretty quick. We're just going to keep working on balance and get that exact feeling that we need from the car for qualifying and the race. All these times you are seeing is the benefit of tows with two or three cars. You'll begin to see true speed toward the middle of this week coming. For qualifying, that's one side of things: We have to make sure the car is fast. For qualifying and the race, we have to make sure the Target car has a nice balance in it so we can trim it out and run well in traffic. We'll work on both because of the compacted schedule now. We're going to be busy; hope the weather cooperates."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 FAZZT Race Team): "I'm very, very proud of the boys. They did a fantastic job. I think the car is great. Our Kansas weekend was a good preview for where we're going to be here at Indy. We qualified fifth there. Today our plan was to shake the car down and just evaluate it, and the car is fantastic. It's just really, really good. We ran on our own with lots of downforce on the car and no tow from anybody, so we're very excited about the speed that we're doing right now. It's a good beginning for the week, and now I'm just waiting to get back on track."
BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 36 Conquest Racing RACB): "It was good. We went step by step up to speed. We started with a lot of downforce on the car, and then progressively we trimmed it out. Every time we did a change on the car we were going faster, so it's quite good. It shows that we are going in the right direction. We have one week to work on it, and we'll try to make it faster. For the moment, we are quite comfortable. But we still have a lot of downforce on the car, so it's normal. Progressively we'll try to get it more loose."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 24 Dad's Root Beer/DRR): "It was a shame we couldn't get back out toward the end (rain showers) because we need to do some more laps. The car wasn't comfortable at all. I never went flat on one lap. It's a bit confusing because we didn't really change much on the car overnight. We just have to sit down and look at what we've got. Hopefully we can come out and be quick again. There was no real speed in the car today."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): "We made some progress with the Venom car today, and I think we're heading in the right direction. Unfortunately, the rain cut practice a bit short, and we didn't get to a couple of changes that we're optimistic about. Hopefully the rain will hold off tomorrow, and we can keep working and find the speed we're looking for."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Team Z-Line Designs/DRR): "It was a good day. The car feels good. We made a couple of changes and freed it up a little bit. We're working our way through a grocery list of things we wanted to try on the car. We haven't really trimmed it much. We did one change to try and make it a little nicer, and that was positive. We're moving forward. We're sticking to our plan; we know what we want to achieve. Hopefully the weather will play out the next couple of days and we can get into some more speed-related things, start to trim the car out, get a little more aggressive. Right now it's all a case of getting that race car well, and we want the Z-Line Design car to be racy in a couple of week's time."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): (On the inconsistent weather and any difficulties with practice): "That's what you expect when you come to Indy in the month of May. I live in Indy, and any time I've been living here, you kind of expect the weather to be a little odd this time of year. Today was definitely no different than any other. For us, I think, for the first two days we wanted to maintain that we only ran one set of tires. We're trying to hold back on the tires a lot for later in the week when we really need to go for speed and can concentrate on qualifying without any sort of drawbacks with not being able to use the tires we want to use. We had a couple of runs yesterday in the backup car and a couple of runs today in the primary car just to make sure everything works. We made a few minor mechanical changes on the car. Today, I think everyone had pretty big tows to get to those speeds. The car feels pretty decent. Hopefully, we can go out tomorrow and run a full week. I think weather is going to be a challenge, so we'll see where it goes. The tough part for everybody this year is trying to manage qualifying runs and race runs within the five or six days that you have." (On the close call with Dan Wheldon's spinning car): "Yeah, that was pretty close. Luckily we just missed." (On the aerodynamic changes of the cars this year compared to last year): "It's hard to tell straight out of the box. So far, the car seems to pull up pretty well. It seems to be a little bit better. With the combination now, you have less drag and more downforce. Those two key elements and less dirty air could be a big thing as far as racing."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Team Stargate Worlds HVM): "It was my second time out on an oval, and being here at Indy is something pretty special. I went through ROP (Rookie Orientation Program), and it was pretty good. I'm sure tomorrow will be pretty different with all of the people around me, but I really enjoyed it. I think the track is really different. It makes a little more sense to me to think that the corners are like really fast road course corners as compared to Kansas, where there was a lot of banking. I'm sure it will be very busy when we go out to qualify." (On the pressure of competing with the other female drivers): "This year has been new to me to be racing against other women drivers. I've been racing the past five races with Danica and with Sarah in the last one. It's not really a focus for me to be beating them. I'm here to do my job and I'm a driver. So, I'm not really comparing what they're doing to what I am doing. I don't really feel any pressure in that way." (On her impression of Indianapolis): "I've been here two days, and already it's been pretty crazy. It's pretty special to be here and to be competing with the other drivers. Two years ago, when I saw my first race, I never thought that I'd be racing here. I'm really excited about it. I'm just here to learn. It's kind of the first time we've really tested on an oval with the team. I can start understanding the car and how I feel in the car on an oval." (On the transition to ovals): "I really respect the ovals. I used to think, 'Oh, it looks easy,' because all the cars are going fast, and they don't really seem to move. But when you get in the car and go out on an oval for the first time, it's a real eye-opener. It's insane when you're behind people because you just have no clue what you are supposed to do out there. Like in Kansas, for the first 50 laps or so you're kind of wondering what to do, but then you kind of pick it up as you go. And the faster we go, the more difficult it's going to get. I have a lot of respect for people who have been doing it for a while, and to be a part of it now is something really cool." (On the difference between practice and Race Day): "A lot of people have been saying that it will be different. Even right now, everyone is saying that Turn 1 is the most difficult corner because of all the grandstands. I think that if you pick your points on the track, it will definitely help you. I know on Race Day it is going to be very different, and for the first few laps I will be thinking, 'Oh, this is weird.'"
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 23 Mona Vie/DRR): "Unfortunately, we had limited track time today because of the bad weather. Every time we tried to get something going with the car, it would rain again. The two days have been tough so far on trying to find out where we are at. We will continue to work at it again and see what we can find in the next couple of days."
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 25 Ipiranga/DRR): "We passed ROP today, and I'm very happy. I felt comfortable getting up to speed, and I could run in traffic, as well. It felt really good, and was a great experience. Now that we are done we will be able to run in the 220s. Because of the orientation test, you put pressure on yourself to get fast right away, so everything is a progress. You have to take 10 laps to get to the specific speed and be in that specific speed that they want you to do, so once you get in the 215s, it's more natural and was easier for me and I felt more comfortable. I look forward to getting back out on track tomorrow."
|Car Driver Name
||Total Laps |
||3 Castroneves, Helio
||9 Dixon, Scott
||10 Franchitti, Dario
||12 Power, Will
||11 Kanaan, Tony
||32 Moraes, Mario
||4 Wheldon, Dan
||6 Briscoe, Ryan
||26 Andretti, Marco
||30 Rahal, Graham
||14 Meira, Vitor
||99 Bell, Townsend
||7 Patrick, Danica
||41 Foyt IV, AJ
||06T Mutoh, Hideki
||22 Wilson, Justin
||8 Viso, EJ
||2 Matos, Raphael
||67 Fisher, Sarah
||43 Andretti, John
||15 Tracy, Paul
||25 Beatriz, Ana (R)
||20 Carpenter, Ed
||77 Tagliani, Alex
||23 Scheckter, Tomas
||19 Lloyd, Alex
||37 Hunter-Reay, Ryan
||34 Romancini, Mario (R)
||5 Sato, Takuma (R)
||24 Conway, Mike
||36 Baguette, Bertrand (R)
||18 Duno, Milka
||29 Saavedra, Sebastian (R)