Chevrolet V-6 power topped the board as the fourth day of practice ended at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500. Again, it was Andretti Autosport leading the way for Chevy. Marco Andretti, No. 26 Team RC Cola Chevrolet, was the fastest of the 30 cars taking laps with a time and speed of 40.2367 seconds/223.676 mph.
Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet, was second in the final order followed by James Hinchcliffe, No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, in third. Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, was fifth to give Chevrolet four of the five fastest cars.
One additional Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar driver put up time and speed that landed him in the top-10: Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet – 7th.
Of note today for the Chevrolet 2.2 liter V-6 IndyCar teams and drivers was the ongoing process of learning how this car and engine configuration reacts in a pack of cars. The new Dallara DW12 presents a new scenario on-track because it punches a larger hole in the air than the previous version of the race car. That, in turn, creates opportunities for pulling up on the car in front of them more quickly than in previous years and making a pass.
Teams are also managing their tire allocations to ensure they have enough new sets of Firestone Firehawk race tires for the remainder of this week plus qualifying practice on Fast Friday, their qualifying attempts on Pole Day Saturday and possible making a second attempt on Sunday. In addition, they will need tires for the final practice before the race on Carb Day, Friday May 25th as well as enough sets to compete in the Indianapolis 500 on May 27, 2012.
Practice will resume Wednesday at noon.
MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 26 TEAM RC COLA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – FASTEST IN TODAY’S PRACTICE: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “I’m really pleased with where we are at with the race car so far. I have just been really working on the car in a pack, and just trying to stay flat in traffic. We have the car to the point now that I am confident to say we would be the ones to beat if the race was today. The speed on its own I’m a little concerned about. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, if we start 33rd, we can still win this race.”
IS IT DIFFERENT OUT THERE RIGHT NOW WITH THE NEW CAR WITH THE HANDLING? “Indy with the old cars, when you think you have those things so maxed out and perfected, you roll them off the next day…You’ll see tomorrow. It might be a big challenge for me because that is Indianapolis for you in the month of May. You just have to be ready. It is like starting over tomorrow and we’re prepared for it. I’m not expecting to roll this car off tomorrow and set the world on fire. We just have to keep working like everybody else. The new car, it still has four wheels man. It’s still a race car. A lot of things are similar. The big thing has been working with Chevy, and it has been great. It has been a lot of fun. We’ve made great strides and I am so proud of them with this little deficit we might have been up against. I don’t think it is going to be a big deal, but we’ll see.”
TALK ABOUT HINCH (JAMES HINCHCLIFFE) AS A TEAMMATE AND A PERSON: “He’s a helluva kid. He’s in the championship run right now. That’s what’s it is all about. You have to be relaxed enough to have fun, but still get the job done. He’s able to do both of those things. The three of us, well the five of us here, it’s been great. We’re an oiled machine so far. But, like I said, it is Indianapolis, and we are prepared to start over tomorrow.”
DO YOU THINK TIRES WILL BE AN IMPORTANT FACTOR FOR THE RACE? “I think so. A little bit. Firestone does such a great job, but it is going to be very hot. It is going to be a challenge. It is going to be the same for everybody, and it is the same old story. How much grip can you have in the car versus where’s it going to be at the start of the stint versus the end. You try to get away with as skimpy as you can without being too skimpy at the end of a stint.”
WHAT’S IT LIKE IN A BIG GROUP AND ARE YOU DOING ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY THAN YOU HAVE IN THE PAST? “Yes. These things, it is just obvious looking at them, they poke a huge hole in the air. I think it is going to be great for the fans, man. I don’t think anybody is going to be able to lead for more than a couple of laps because the leader is just a sitting duck. You get such a great tow. There is going to be a lot of passing. The thing I am concerned about is the last minute because what happens is you get a decent tow, but then that last couple of car lengths, it really sucks you in, so a lot of guys are going to be ‘No, I can’t get him, can’t get him’. Then they are going to feel that and they are going to be doing last minute dive-bombs. That will be interesting, but you just have to be heads-up. That’s all.”
DOES IT HELP THAT YOU HAVE A LOT OF TEAMMATES BECAUSE THE DRAFT IS GOING TO BE IMPORTANT? “We might give our teammates a couple of extra inches, but we want to beat them too. It is going to be hectic. Right place, right time. Trying to stay out of trouble. It is 500 miles, so that is the game plan the first three-quarters of the race. From there hopefully you are in a position to charge. It helps. It definitely helps because you know can trust them and stuff like that, but we’re still, each and every one of us wants to win the Indianapolis 500.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 SHELL V-POWER/PENNZOIL ULTRA TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – 2ND QUICKEST: "The Shell Pennzoil car felt great today. We worked some more on the race set up and towards the end we were able to get a good draft. Always good to put up a fast time and we will continue to work hard to get things where they need to be.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NO. 27 TEAM GODADDY.COM ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – 3RD QUICKEST: “It was a pretty reasonable day for the Go Daddy car. We went out early and had some reasonable speed on our own and then focused on the race (set up) from there on out. We’re running in bigger and bigger packs now and learning more about this car because it’s still so unknown in a proper race condition, but you can see by the end of the day where everyone has the same mindset compared to last year. We’re running a lot more in traffic earlier in the week than we were (last year) and it’s just a function of everybody working to figure out what the car will do on race day. We have three cars in the top five so we’re clearly reasonable in traffic and on our own with a couple cars so we’ll just keep chipping away at it.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 28 TEAM DHL/SUN DROP CITRUS SODA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – 5TH QUICKEST: “It was another productive day for the DHL/Sun Drop crew and the whole Andretti team. We worked together as a group and I think we found some good speed. The good thing about the Andretti Autosport cars is we’re up towards the top when we’re running alone and up towards the top when we’re in a pack. Things are going as planned and we still have a long week to go. I’d say we’re 90% focused on the race and 10% on qualifying at the moment, and that will change on Friday, but right now we’re focused on race setup right now.”
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – 7TH QUICKEST: "The Verizon car was really good today. We mostly worked on race setup and also got the chance to see what it's like running behind a bunch of cars. It was another day of collecting information and we feel good about where we are."
JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 4 NATIONAL GUARD PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET – 13TH QUICKEST: "I think it’s nice to have some friends out there to be able to play around with on the track. It just gives us some good information to work off of as we move forward this week. With this new car we have a couple things we still need to sort out in terms in how the car feels in race trim and how it’s going to last over a stint. What we’ve seen here is that you’re going to have a helluva time pulling away from anybody, so chances are pretty good that you’re going to be in traffic for long stints during the race. The National Guard Panther guys have been working hard all week at trying to figure that out.”
RYAN BRISCOE, NO. 2 IZOD TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – 14TH QUICKEST: "We had a good day in the IZOD car working on the race set up. We were running in a lot of traffic out there maybe even busier than it normally would be in the race, but I was getting a really good feel for what this car is going to handle like, come next Sunday, but until then we are going to keep on learning."
ORIOL SERVIA, NO. 22 PANTHER/DREYER & REINBOLD RACING CHEVROLET – 15TH QUICKEST: “It was an interesting day. I wasn’t super happy with how my car felt this morning. We did a couple of big changes in the afternoon and the car felt the best that it has felt so far to me, so I’m very pleased again with how we finished the day. Yesterday was similar. We tried some things in the morning that we didn’t like and then we went back in the afternoon to a car I really like. I think we are at a point now that we need to start running in traffic and see how the car behaves in race conditions and in dirty air. I feel now that we are at the point and that’s a good point to be, especially on a Wednesday where we still have a few days ahead to fine tune that.”
TONY KANAAN, NO. 11 ITAIPAVA | GEICO | MOUSER ELECTRONICS – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET – 19TH QUICKEST: “Today was a good day. We concentrated more on race setup and got a feel for the car when running in traffic. Hopefully tomorrow will be like today.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA, NO. 17 TEAM AFS ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, 21ST QUICKEST: “Today was very different from the other days we have had here. We saved miles and tires because we have been running a lot since Opening Day. Today we decided to practice our pit stops a lot and went out for a traffic run with my teammates, but we didn’t do a lot of laps. It was nice to see my teammates do well out there. They learned some important things that I would like to test tomorrow, so it will be nice to work together. It is going to be a busy day for the AFS Racing crew.”
ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S PREMIUM ULTRA VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET – 22ND QUICKEST: “It was way better than yesterday’s (Monday) car here. It’s been a bad day, a good day, a bad day and pretty good day today. We did get a lot of things done today. We are making progress now with the car. We have been trying so much stuff with the new DW12. We didn’t make the car perfect today but I was pleased with the direction we are going now. We did a good job figuring out what we need for the future here. We exposed some issues with car that will help in the next couple of days. Now, we need to come up with a good plan overnight so we get closer to the fastest guys. We just need to fix all of the things we uncovered today. I’m sure we can do it this week.”
E .J. VISO, NO. 5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET – 26TH QUICKEST: “It was a really tough day today. Many of the things we tired today didn’t produce the results we wanted. The plan right now is to go back to the setup we had yesterday and start from there. I am confident we will come up with a solution. We just have to keep working hard and good things will happen.”
ANA BEATRIZ, NO. 25 TEAM IPIRANGA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT / CONQUEST RACING CHEVROLET – 28TH QUICKEST: “I think that we made some improvements today. We still do not have the speed that we wish we had. We will have a long night researching everything, so that we can make sure we have the same speed as my other teammates tomorrow. Thanks to my Ipiranga team for all of their hard work.”
RUBENS BARRICHELLO, NO. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET – 28TH QUICKEST: “We are still trying different things but just can't find the speed. However what was good today, was learning to run in traffic which I haven't really been able to do much of and working out my lines. We have