Speeds continue to pick up at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
There was a lot of waiting at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on what was intended to be Fast Friday. All the Verizon IndyCar Series race cars received a power boost of about 40 horsepower for today through the weekend’s qualifying exercises, and when the track went green shortly after 3PM, speeds erupted.
James Hinchcliffe (at 228 on only his second hot lap since the Saturday concussion), Simon Pagenaud, Marco Andretti and a host of others were quickly in the 228 and 229-mph range and Ed Carpenter upped the ante quickly on his fifth (of eight total) laps to be the sole driver in the ‘30s, turning 230.522mph. In total there were nine over 229 mph today.
That would be it, however, as the rain squalls that have plagued this week of practice for the 98th Indianapolis 500 returned to bedevil the Indy cars. There were only 26 cars on-circuit for the 21 minutes of green flag running and the track was declared closed before 4:30PM.
There were only 168 laps turned on the 2.5-mile oval and, as third-placed Marco Andretti said, “I have no idea what I’ve got!” No one’s had a chance to practice at this 140 kPa boost level (up by 10) in single file, so nobody has a clue what will happen in qualifying on Saturday and Sunday. Unlike most years, there just hasn’t been an opportunity to work on qualifying setups in 2014.
So it’s going to be a crap shoot for everyone involved.
Looking at the combined time sheets, which includes 40 total entries (some teams practiced with their T cars on Sunday, the day after the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis road race), times and speeds are all over the place. In the six days of practice, six drivers from four different teams have set the fastest laps: Will Power (Team Penske), Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretty Autosport), E.J. Viso (filling in for James Hinchcliffe at Andretti Autosport), Simon Pagenaud of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Helio Castroneves from Team Penske and Ed Carpenter of Ed Carpenter Racing.
The 21 drivers that braved Friday’s cold weather are the fastest of the week and the slowest time amongst that group belongs to Ryan Briscoe’s Chevrolet at 226.072 mph. Slowest overall is James Davison, who passed his Rookie Orientation Program on Thursday afternoon and has turned a lap of 217.052mph.
Of the fast 21 today, eight drive Chevrolet-powered entries and the balance have Honda twin-turbocharged engines behind them, with Andretti the top Honda runner for the day. Ed Carpenter, last year’s pole winner at 228.762 mph, got a tow from Sebastien Bourdais for his quick tour of the historic oval - and came away with a $10,000 check for his trouble.
It will be extremely difficult to predict a speed for pole position, although Carpenter did admit both he and teammate JR Hildebrand were pretty well trimmed out, and he said the Penske cars were in qualifying “trim” as well. If it warms for qualifying over the weekend, Carpenter said 230 for pole position is possible.