Fast Friday is in the record books. Chevrolet IndyCar V-6 drivers from both Andretti Autosport and Team Penske occupied the top-four on the final time and speed chart for the day as teams had their first opportunity on-track with the increased boost the IZOD IndyCar Series has allowed for Pole and Bump Days.
Marco Andretti set the pace with a time of 39.5535 seconds/227.540 mph. He was followed by Ryan Briscoe who clocked a fast lap of 39.6764 seconds/226.845 mph. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was next in the order with a lap of 39.6973 seconds/226.716 mph. Fourth in the order was Ryan Hunter-Reay who turned a lap in 39.7526 seconds/226.400 mph.
Other Team Chevy drivers turning laps that placed them in the top-10 were: James Hinchcliffe, sixth quickest with a lap of 39.8276 seconds/225.974 mph; Ana Beatriz – 7th quickest (39.8842 seconds/225.653 mph); JR Hildebrand – 8th quickest (39.8976 seconds/225.572 mph) and Tony Kanaan – 10th quickest (39.9428 (225.322 mph).
Of note for Chevrolet today was Katherine Legge, who passed the third and final phase of her Rookie Orientation Program. The successful completion cleared her to qualify and race in the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500.
A total of 32 drivers took to the famed 2.5-mile oval in preparation for Pole Day tomorrow. The only car not getting track time today was Oriol Servia. The team discovered a problem with the car prior to leaving the garage area for pit lane, but will be ready for practice in the morning and to make their qualifying run.
Following two practice session in the morning, next up will be Pole Day for the Indianapolis 500. Positions one through 24 will be set in the session that will run from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. From 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. will be the Fast Nine Shootout between the fastest nine qualifiers of the day to set the first three rows for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 27.
Pole Day and qualifying for the 2012 Indy 500 begins at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow and will be televised live on NBC Sports Network. The Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 27. The race will be broadcast live on ABC beginning at 12:00 p.m. (ET) (tape delayed at 7:00 p.m. ET in Indianapolis).
MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 26 TEAM RC COLA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – FASTEST TIME OF THE DAY (39.5535 SECONDS/227.540 MPH): ON IF HE FEELS TODAY IS A GOOD INDICATOR FOR TOMORROW: “I sure hope so. Why not try to go for the pole, I think now all the sudden, today was a big day for us. I thought we were at a bit of deficit to my teammates to start the month, but we just kept rubbing on it, we never gave up, and you know we kind of woke the car up and obviously with this added boost today it woke my car up in particular as well. But you know we’ve been working really hard too and finding that every couple of tenths of a mile an hour and it all adds up. So it’s going to come down to a couple of a tenths of a mile an hour, I really believe that and the four-lap average, I’ve been really working specifically hard on the consistency over the four laps that I think is going to make a difference tomorrow.”
ON WHAT THE POLE WOULD MEAN TO HIM: “If you’re going to be in the top nine you might as well be on the pole. It would mean the world to me, I showed up this month to win the race 100%. And I still believe I can do it from 33rd, but if we could do it from first it would be fantastic. Especially, they just told me in that last interview that it’s been since ’87 with my grandfather, so that was the year I was born, so it would be cool to be able to be on the pole tomorrow for sure.
“Hopefully tomorrow if we’re knocking on the door for a pole that’d be pretty ironic because last year we were just trying to get into the show, so it’s just credit to the guys, we’ve just been working so hard and I think that Al McDonald, my engineer, and I have been working really well together. He has a lot of faith in me and vice versa, so that’s all you need is that kind of chemistry and obviously the five of us work together as well. But there’s only so much that five of us can find. A lot it’s credit to the guys and just rubbing on the cars and every little bit counts, and that’s all we’re doing is attention to detail. We learned that when we were just trying to get into the show, but now all the sudden that we roll off with pace, now all those little things are putting us in the position to potentially run for the pole.”
ON IF HE THINKS THE NEW FACES THAT HAVE BEEN FASTEST ARE JUST A FLUKE: “I don’t count anybody out. I think you’d be foolish to. That’s the beauty of the IZOD IndyCar Series; the depth of the talent from the drivers and the teams is unreal. We’re not going to get overconfident; we’re going to come out tomorrow and try to do the same thing we did today. We know this place can be tricky and it changes, so I’m just hoping that this thing replicates tomorrow and we’re just quick. But yeah, I don’t count anybody out. I’ve got to say, it’s been great working with Chevy and we’ve been really making a statement out there, especially with this bit of a deficit that we started with at the beginning at the month. You know with Chevy behind you that it’s not going to be any kind of a deficit or a problem, so I think that’d be a huge statement to put ten Chevys in the top ten tomorrow.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE STARTING DRAW? IS THERE A BIG DIFFERENCE GOING OUT IN THE MORNING VERSUS THE AFTERNOON? “Yes. The cooler the better. There is just more grip on the track. The hotter and greasier it is, the slicker it is. We’ve been trying to practice in both and the car, so far, has been good in both. Hopefully it doesn’t affect us too much. We’ve put some of our fastest times down in the hottest conditions, which I’m very pleased with. Whatever number we pull, hopefully the car has the speed.”
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE TOP-NINE DEAL? “If the fans like it, then I’m a fan, because I think that is what it is for. I think it is going to be interesting. It is going to be tough if my first run is a 217 and they have to erase that time, that would be tough. But, it’s the same for everybody.”
DID THE EXTRA BOOST AFFECT FUEL CONSUMPTION? HOW DID THE BOOST MAKE THE CAR FEEL? “Fuel consumption, we’re not really worried about. We just put enough in to get four laps in because they are taking the boost away for the race, so we haven’t been trying to worry about that too much. But, as a driver you take to it well. You always want more and more boost and power all the time. It seemed to liven my car up a bit, so I wish we could keep it for the race. Would be nice.”
WITH THE EXTRA HORSEPOWER IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU FEEL IN THE AR BESIDES THE EXTRA HORSEPOWER? “It’s kind of free. When you get horsepower, unless you are wheel spinning in the short chutes, and we don’t have that kind of crazy horsepower. It’s normally free. It just kind of bumps all of our speeds up. That is how we’ve felt so far. I was expecting to have to search for a lot more grip. But, our car has been pretty consistent. For everybody, it’s just been faster.
“The tows are a little bit less effective now with a little bit more boost. They mean a little less. A lot of guys, I’m sure, at the wing angles we are at today, don’t want to be looking to get too close to another car. That’s where greed comes in. You want to be P1, but you don’t want to stick it in the fence. Especially when it’s fast.”
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE BIG HORSEPOWER AND HIGHER SPEEDS OF THE PAST HERE BECAUSE THAT WOULD SEPARATE THE PACK? “I’m always a fan of trying to separate the men from the boys and be a part of the men obviously. As a driver, as I said earlier, the more power the better. But, it is all relative. When I was quickest at a 223, maybe the fans don’t think that is fast, but that was the goal. It’s all relative. Not everybody is the same. It would be fun almost to the place where it was tough to go flat, not flat at minus whatever the rear wing goes to. That would be fun. But, also, it is a cool challenge for Chevy and Honda and everybody to see what they can pull out of these V-6 engines, because it is easy to tune down a V-8, but it is tough to really maximize the V-6, and credit to them. That is what they all chose and that is where the future is going so it is cool.”
RYAN BRISCOE, NO. 2 IZOD TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – 2ND QUICKEST (39.6764 SECONDS/226.835 MPH): HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING INTO TOMORROW (POLE DAY): “I feel like we’re making progress, for sure. I think we still have some work to do. I’m sort of feeling six to seven tenths off of quick time right now for going for pole. It is in the car. We’ve just been making big gains today on the balance. It’s tough when you are this trimmed out; got the extra horsepower today. It’s all about the fine tuning, and getting as little scrub through the corners as possible. It was a good day. Certainly made big improvements. I finished with the best run of the day and it will help me go to sleep feeling better tonight.”
ARE YOU SURPRISED WHERE THE SPEEDS ARE? DID YOU ANTICIPATE THEM BEING THIS QUICK? IS YOUR SPEED WITH A TOW OR ON YOUR OWN? “It was all alone (SMILES BROADLY). No, I think everyone that is up there had a tow. I had a lot of help actually, the last lap, from (Sebastien) Bourdais. I think we’re up there. We’re a top-nine for sure. It’s hard to know exactly where everybody stacks up right now because of the fact that it is hard to get clear laps. All the top speeds you see there are with help. We’re up there. We’re competitive. Certainly going to be working hard tonight to come out strong tomorrow.”
ANDRETTI HAS BEEN STRONG ALL WEEK. HOW FORMIDABLE DO YOU SEE THEM? “Yes, they are definitely going to be heavy favorites going into tomorrow (Pole Day), and I would say for the race as well. I haven’t done many long runs with their cars, but I’ve seen them running together and they look pretty good out there. They have done a good job, definitely. I think them, together with our package and Chevrolet; we’re very pleased with how things have been progressing over the last week in practice. It’s going to be close I think. There are a lot of teams that are really performing well this year at the Indy 500. A lot of small teams as well, really. Sticking it to the big guns. It’s tough. We have to be on our toes and keep working hard and never ease up.”
DID THE EXTRA BOOST TODAY IN ANY WAY AFFECT YOUR SETUP? “I think the biggest difference is the tire degradation with the extra speed. You are certainly putting a bit more force through the tires. It is harder to be consistent over four laps. But it was great. I wish we had some more (horsepower). Maybe we could race with this horsepower and qualify with our road course boost. I would love that. I think it was great. I’m glad we’ve made this step. It’s nice to be back in the 220s consistently. It certainly makes it a challenge. I don’t think it is going to be just about who can do the first timed lap the quickest. It’s going to be who is going to be quickest on lap four tomorrow. A lot of that is because of the extra boost we are getting from the motors.”
DO YOU THINK ANY OF THE SMALLER TEAMS WILL BE A THREAT TOMORROW OR IS IT GOING TO BE THE USUAL SUSPECTS? “There are a lot of usual suspects. Looking at the best Hondas, Dario (Franchitti) or was it (Scott) Dixon was fastest one day. (Josef) Newgarden from Sarah Fisher (Hartman) Racing, he’s been right there as one of the best guys and Bryan Clauson too, who is a rookie. They are both rookies. They have been impressive for sure and I think certainly to keep an eye on moving forward. There are a lot of drivers here with a lot of experience. A lot of good teams. You are talking about Andretti being a five-car team. Penske being a three-car team. Ganassi being a four-car team. That’s 12 cars right there. Just between three really strong teams with experience, you are leaving a few out of the Fast Nine tomorrow.”
COULD YOU FEEL THE EXTRA HORSEPOWER? WHAT IS YOUR APPROXIMATION, 40 OR 50? “Somewhere in that range. 40 to 50 horsepower I guess. Yes, you can feel, not on-track so much. You are just going faster when you are at terminal velocity. Leaving pit lane, around the apron, there is definitely a little bit more punch. There’s 40 horsepower more. It’s not a massive number when you are talking about 600. But, it certainly a number that you feel.”
IS NEWGARDEN THE BIGGEST SURPRISE THIS YEAR? “Yes, probably. As far a newcomer, he looks like the guy who has been showing the most speed so far.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 SHELL V-POWER/PENNZOIL ULTRA TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – 3RD QUICKEST (39.6973 SECONDS/226.716 MPH): "I felt we made a lot if improvements in our Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Chevy during Fast Friday. Today certainly helped prepare us for tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to qualifying."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 28 TEAM DHL/SUN DROP CITRUS SODA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – 4TH QUICKEST (39.7526 SECONDS/226.400 MPH):
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NO. 27 TEAM GODADDY.COM ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – 6th QUICKEST (39.8276 SECONDS/225.974 MPH): “The speeds rocketed up a bunch. They were telling us it was going to be five miles per hour but I didn’t quite believe them – I guess they know what they are talking about because that’s about what we saw, maybe even a little more than that. Huge credit to the team because the cars have been awesome. When you throw that much more horsepower, that much more speed in a car you never know how it’s going to react and the (cars) were solid. From where we’re sitting we’re very happy. We’ve made a couple of gains throughout the day and we’re just going to polish the Go Daddy car, put it away and really focus on tomorrow.”
ANA BEATRIZ, NO. 25 TEAM IPIRANGA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT / CONQUEST RACING CHEVROLET – 7TH QUICKEST (39.8842 SECONDS/225.653 MPH): “Today was our most competitive day trimming for qualifying and getting the most speed that we can out of the car. I think the Andretti team did an awesome job and now the cars are pretty fast, so I am proud today – especially for the Ipiranga Andretti car. If we want to make sure we are in the top 10 I think we still need to work a little bit and hopefully tomorrow we’ll get some more speed and get a little closer to our teammates. But I’m pleased and happy with what we accomplished today.”
JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 4 NATIONAL GUARD PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET – 8TH QUICKEST (39.8987 SECONDS/225.571 MPH): "We feel pretty good. We’d like to find a little more speed in the National Guard Chevy, but we more or less accomplished everything we set out to do today. Now it’s just a matter of trying to figure out what our target speed will end up being when Pole Day comes around tomorrow. The Panther boys have done a good job and the Chevrolets look strong out here so far, and that certainly bodes well for us. The thing we did a good job of today is just focusing on what we’re doing and figuring out what we can get out of the car while just loosely paying attention to what other people are doing. The boys have done a great job staying out of the whirlwind that becomes practice at Indianapolis and hopefully that pays off for us.”
TONY KANAAN, NO. 11 ITAIPAVA | GEICO | MOUSER ELECTRONICS – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET – 10TH QUICKEST (39.9428/225.322 MPH):
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – 11TH QUICKEST (39.9488 SECONDS/225.288 MPH): "We accomplished a fair bit with our Verizon car today. We would've liked to find just a touch more speed, although we always want that. Looking ahead to tomorrow - we're in good shape really and we will give it a go."
E .J. VISO, NO. 5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET – 12TH QUICKEST (39.9757 SECONDS/225.137 MPH): “It was definitely a day of improvements. Things went very smooth. We picked up a lot of speed with the changes we made to the car. The things that we learned yesterday were good today and we still believe that we can make some changes for qualifying tomorrow. Hopefully, they will be productive and take us to a good qualifying spot. Then Sunday we can finish our race setups and be ready to go. “
ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S PREMIUM ULTRA VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET – 16TH QUICKEST (40.0096 SECONDS/224.946 MPH): “For Fast Friday, we definitely have the speed to compete for the front couple of rows. But we are still searching for some grip. We just seem to be sliding around a lot. The Chevrolet power is unbelievable and we have been running great today. Unfortunately, we are still scrubbing off too much speed in the turns. We just can’t put our finger on the cause of it right now. The positive is that we have a fast car, but the negative is we haven’t figured how to get it through the corner just right. If we can figure that out, we’ll have a car as fast as anyone here. We’ll work on the qualifying setup today and I hope we can get it right. Because I feel that we can get right in the mix of the action on Saturday.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA, NO. 17 TEAM AFS ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – 19TH QUICKEST (40.0604 MPH): “Overall, it was an amazing day for the entire Andretti Autosport team. It’s great to see all of the cars towards the top and progressing every time we go out. It is that particular time you push yourself to the limit that you need your teammates to really help you make improvements. That is what we have with everyone here because we have great communication. It has been a positive day so we are looking forward to what will come tomorrow. I feel very confident and know that the whole AFS Racing team does also. We’ll need to go out there and just do a good job. I am looking forward to a good starting position.”
RUBENS BARRICHELLO, NO. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET – 21ST QUICKEST (40.1299 SECONDS/224.272 MPH): “I had an okay day. I'm improving my car every time I'm on track so I look forward to a good qualifying tomorrow.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, NO. 7 DRAGON RACING CHEVROLET – 29TH QUICKEST (40.688 SECONDS/221.191 MPH): “It was a good day for the Dragon Racing team. No major drama, no moments, no nothing. Just what we want as we build confidence and get data on what the corrections are when you change things like the wing. We’re just going through what we can with the little time we’ve got. We were able to get in quite a few laps and get a lot done. We still have to keep working at it to try to get some more speed out of the car. We only ran minus five today so there’s still quite a bit of speed to be gained. We’ll keep dialing the car in and get a little more racy out there.”
KATHERINE LEGGE, NO. 6 TRUECAR-DRAGON RACING CHEVROLET – COMPLETED THE FINAL PHASE OF ROOKIE ORIENTATION PROGRAM WHICH CLEARS HER TO QUALIFY AND RACE IN THE INDIANAPOLIS 500 – 30th QUICKEST (41.0154 SECONDS/219.430 MPH): “Everything went according to plan. We have a really comfortable car to do those speeds. Now we have to work a little on the car and work a little on me in trimming out the car and figuring out where we stand. So far we’ve achieved what we wanted to achieve and it’s just a shame we didn’t do it last Thursday. I feel confident moving forward and we’ll just continue to build speed with baby steps.”
ORIOL SERVIA, NO. 22 PANTHER/DREYER & REINBOLD RACING CHEVROLET – NO TIME TODAY: “Obviously, it was not in our plan nor was it our ideal day because we wanted to get a feel of the car. We started the car and we saw some smoke and thought it was the engine. We rushed to change it to try to get out on track. When we put in the new engine it was still smoking just as much, which we then discovered that it didn’t have anything to do with the motor. The bad thing is we didn’t get to run today, but the good news is we didn’t have the penalty that we thought we were going to have in Detroit. The truth is, JR had the whole day and he only did two runs. It’s not like we missed a lot. All we wanted to do was check to make sure that everything was fine and he did and he’s happy with the car. I’m pretty sure tomorrow we’ll just need to do a couple of runs before qualifying and we’ll have the time to do that in the morning and I know that we will have a strong car.”