Conor Daly passed the three-phase Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program. Pippa Mann passed a refresher program. Marco Andretti and Helio Castroneves surpassed 225 mph.
On the busiest day of practice yet for the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500, 32 driver/car combinations co-mingled on the 2.5-mile oval during the six-hour session under sun and temperatures hovering in the low 60s.
It was a grand day to get down to business for some teams and drivers, and for others to get started on their race preparations. The latter included the Dale Coyne Racing entries for Mann, Justin Wilson and Ana Beatriz, Townsend Bell in the second Panther Racing car and Daly in the second A.J. Foyt Racing entry.
Andretti, driving the No. 25 RC Cola car for Andretti Autosport, posted the quickest lap of the month at 225.100 mph (39.9823 seconds). Castroneves was .0043 of a second behind in the No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske car.
Eight cars had lap speeds in excess of 223 mph (quick lap of May 12), and the top 26 were separated by a second. In total, 1,733 laps were turned without incident.
"It helps when you can simulate a mini-race, so we had that luxury and we've been taking full advantage of it," Andretti said. "(Last year) was the first year for me that pole was in reach, so I got too fascinated with just how fast would the car go instead of getting the proper car underneath you for the race.
"Everybody's like, ‘Last year you were really strong in the race,' and this and that, but the car was a handful in the race and obviously it bit me there in the end. So we knew we needed to make some gains and we have so far, but obviously we know how Indy goes. It's early."
Reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay (224.386 mph) was third, 2012 championship runner-up Will Power (223.784) was fourth and JR Hildebrand (223.624) was fifth. Series points leader Takuma Sato was sixth (223.363).
"We've been trying some changes – some work, some don't – and that's all part of testing," said Hunter-Reay, driver of the No. 1 DHL car. "Had another opportunity to run with the teammates and it's really good to see all of Andretti Autosport working together that way."
The warmest day of the month is forecast or May 14, which will entice another busy day of on-track activity (noon-6 p.m. ET).
Daly, the fourth first-year Indianapolis 500 driver to complete the formal ROP, was duly impressed with the Honda-powered No. 41 ABC Supply Co. car, racetrack and speed.
"That's what living the dream feels like. It was really cool," said Daly, 21, of Noblesville, Ind. "First of all, I haven't been on an oval in three years. The first run was kind of difficult to get familiar with it because the car turns in really, really well. Once I got rid of that first run, we were able to get on it."
The Rookie Orientation Program is designed to provide first-year Indianapolis 500 drivers an opportunity to get acquainted with the racetrack. The three speed phases, set by INDYCAR based on the weather and track conditions, include 10 laps at 200-205 mph, 15 laps at 205-209 mph and 15 laps at 210 mph-plus.
INDYCAR driver stewards Arie Luyendyk and Johnny Unser also monitor car control, placement and a consistent driving pattern. AJ Allmendinger, Tristan Vautier and Carlos Munoz completed the program May 11 and were cleared to join in practice and qualifications.
Daly's GP3 race commitments in Barcelona, Spain, where he finished third and fifth, prevented his attendance on Opening Day. Still, he'll get ample track time before Pole Day qualifying May 18. Race Day is May 26. IndyCar.com
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (No. 17 Office Depot Honda): "We went out this morning and didn't have a lot of confidence in the car, so we have been making changes to get more confidence in it. I would have liked to start running in traffic a little bit, but right now, with how the car is, we don't have the gears to do that. We learned some things, but we still need to make some changes to improve the Office Depot car. I would like to have a better feel in the car, but we have a little time."
E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela/Andretti Autosport/HVM Chevrolet): "Another day at the track just preparing and slowly trying to hit all the points in our to-do test list. Little by little, we've been accomplishing them. Today we had some things we had to check in the engine, which is why we couldn't run at the end of the day. Anyways, as a team, we've been progressing. As of now, we've all been doing our jobs, which is bringing the best information together so we can make some clever decisions and continue to put a good setup together. Tomorrow is another test day, and we're planning to keep following our (to-do) list."
JAMES JAKES (No. 16T Acorn Stairlifts Honda): "It was a busy day; we got a lot of race work done. We were trying to mileage out our engine as much as possible today and ran 114 laps. We were just trying to get a feel for the Acorn Stairlifts car in traffic and work on race stuff. I'm excited to get back out there tomorrow and finish the mileage off, and then we can work on qualifying stuff at the end of the week."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 22 Panther DRR Chevrolet): "The position means nothing. It's all about how much tow you get, and we're not playing that game yet. I'm just very happy. Yesterday was a perfect first day; today was a perfect second day. We're actually in a much better position than we were last year at this time. We have learned a lot about the car, and the team has done a great job preparing it. Every time we go out we have a plan of what to try, and the plan is working out well. Also, we have two other cars – JR (Hildebrand) and Townsend (Bell). We're starting to get to a similar setup, so that only helps. We have a very good pace, and we're very happy with the progress so far."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15T Midas/Big O Tires Honda): "We started with a little bit of issues and couldn't quite get them sorted while we were in the pits, so we came back to the garage and found a couple of things. We went back out, and immediately the Midas/Big O Tires car was miles and miles better. I think we are probably still conservative compared to others on wing and that sort of thing, so I feel pretty good about it. Frankly I wasn't expecting to go 220 (mph). I thought the maximum we could do at that time with the gears we had was maybe upper 218's or something. I thought the car was really comfortable in traffic, so we'll keep working on it and getting it better."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): "Another good day in the No. 83 car. The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing guys were on it. We just worked through our program, went through a couple engineering changes, and we will just keep working toward our program and the end of the week. We'll have to see what the weather does, but today turned out to be a really nice afternoon. There's every likelihood that tomorrow will be beautiful, so we'll inevitably do a lot of running then, and we'll be in good shape for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We'll just keep working in that direction."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 8 NTT DATA Honda): "We had a really solid day of practice today in the No. 8 NTT DATA car. We were able to get into a really good plan of going through setups. We had a lot of running and a couple laps with some traffic. It was pretty challenging today with the wind, but it was good to get a feel for some setup changes, and I think we made some progress."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 21T Sarah Fisher Hartman/Century 21 Honda): "It was another good, productive day for us. We got through another strong list of setup changes. We did a little bit of running with cars, so we were able to get an initial read on how the car reacts behind other cars, which is great. We just need to do more of that in the coming week, hopefully before the weather comes in and we get some rain."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): "I think it was another good day of practice. We've been trying some changes – some work, some don't – and that's all part of testing. Had another opportunity to run with the teammates, and it's really good to see all of Andretti Autosport working together that way. We'll put our heads together tonight and continue to make the DHL Chevy stronger."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet): "Solid day. We purposely were limiting miles a little bit, but on the runs that we did, I think we accomplished what we wanted to and got some more good running in the pack this afternoon with the guys. Everybody is getting more comfortable and sort of blowing the dust off of running in a pack here, which is very unique to running in a pack to anywhere else. I say good day for the GoDaddy crew, and we'll just keep progressing like this. If we do that, we should be in a good position by the end of the week."
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "It was a lot of fun out there today. It was great to be in the Lucas Oil car, which was different than the one I drove in rookie orientation. It felt a lot different to be out on the track with all the other drivers instead of just the rookies. The car felt good. We're not at the speeds we want to run for qualifying because we're being conservative right now. We did two runs to get me up to speed and shake everything down. It went well, and I'm happy with how the car felt today."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "We worked on a lot of items today in the Target car. We did a number of runs to work on aero setup, then followed that up with some damper work. We also spent a lot of time working on pit stops. The weather looks a bit iffy the next few days, so it was a very busy day on track for us."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "We were continuing with our plan today. We're trying to work through some issues today. It seemed we struggled with speed today with the Target team. Hopefully we can get that resolved tomorrow."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "Today was a great day. We made quite a few changes on the car and ran a lot of laps. It was a beautiful day, and I'm really happy with where we are. I'm comfortable with the car, and it feels good in traffic. We're pretty fast considering our downforce, so at the moment it's looking really good. We just need to continue working on the car like we have been, and it's just great to feel miles ahead of where we were last year."
AJ ALLMENDINGER (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet): "The No. 2 IZOD Chevrolet was good today. It was another day in the car, and as more downforce was taken away from the car, the more comfortable it felt. It's really about logging laps and becoming confident behind the wheel. We ended up seventh on the charts and were able to gain more information regarding the setup of the car. Looking forward to tomorrow and the rest of the week."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "We had a good day in the Verizon Chevrolet. Everything went according to plan as we worked through our process. Toward the end of the day, we turned a decent lap, and we will work to improve on what we learned today."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "It was a very productive day. We made some changes and collected very good data from them, and everything went according to plan. I'm happy to see all of the progress. It's nice to see that Conor got up to speed very quickly so we are able to go to the proper test plan for the two cars tomorrow."
CONOR DALY (No. 41 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "Today was really cool. I really enjoyed my first few laps around here. The car feels great, very comfortable to drive, easy flat all around every lap. It's crazy for me to think we have four more days of practice, which is something that I'm not used to, but it's really nice. I'm excited that we can keep working at it and see where we end up." (What you expected?): "It's always a bit of an unknown at first. I was a little bit iffy on how does the car feel, what does it feel like, and as soon as I got up to speed where you could really feel the downforce kick in, then it was fine. It was harder to go slower than it was to go fast. It's nice to go fast." (What does it mean to be racing at Indy?): "It's incredible; I really can't describe it. It's something that I've always dreamed of, and I'm still dreaming, so it's very, very cool. I'm just so thankful to be a part of this organization."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet): "Right now we're trying to follow the schedule. We're not worried about the result. Rick Mears always says that (Indy) is two races, and right now we're worried about the first race, which is qualifying. Plus there is the weather and things like that, so we're not thinking about the result. I dream about it, about becoming a four-time winner, but right now you have to work before you achieve your dreams. And that's what we're going to do."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet): "Obviously it helps when you can simulate a mini-race, so we had that luxury and we've been taking full advantage of it, and personally I feel like that's how the Ganassis beat us last year. It was the first year for me that pole was in reach, so I got too fascinated with just how fast would the car go instead of getting the proper car underneath you for the race. And everybody's like, 'Last year you were really strong in the race,' and this and that, but the car was a handful in the race, and obviously it bit me there in the end. So we knew we needed to make some gains, and we have so far. But obviously we know how Indy goes; it's early."
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Unistraw Chevrolet): "It was another day of testing for the No. 26 Unistraw Chevrolet. We are just crossing different programs off of our list to practice before we head into the weekend. There are still a lot of days to go and different runs to try. This afternoon's run with my teammates was a learning experience; I still need to prove myself. We have to continue to work on our practice checklist and figure out what is going to work best for the team."
Monday Practice Results
||Car Driver Name
||25 Andretti, Marco
||3 Castroneves, Helio
||1 Hunter-Reay, Ryan
||12 Power, Will
||4 Hildebrand, JR
||14 Sato, Takuma
||2 Allmendinger, AJ (R)
||27 Hinchcliffe, James
||11 Kanaan, Tony
||21T Newgarden, Josef
||26 Munoz, Carlos (R)
||22 Servia, Oriol
||98 Tagliani, Alex
||19 Wilson, Justin
||83 Kimball, Charlie
||77 Pagenaud, Simon
||78 de Silvestro, Simona
||8 Briscoe, Ryan
||5 Viso, EJ
||20 Carpenter, Ed
||60 Bell, Townsend
||10 Franchitti, Dario
||63 Mann, Pippa
||9 Dixon, Scott
||15T Rahal, Graham
||18 Beatriz, Ana
||7 Bourdais, Sebastien
||41 Daly, Conor (R)
||6 Saavedra, Sebastian
||16T Jakes, James
||55 Vautier, Tristan (R)
||17 Jourdain Jr, Michel