Allan Brewer, IndyCar Series correspondent
Marco Andretti recorded a time of 40.2367 seconds (223.676 mph) to set the fastest lap of the month to date as practice for the May 27th Indianapolis 500 continued at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday.
"I'm really pleased with where we are at with the race car so far," said Andretti. "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."
Always good to put up a fast time...
Helio Castroneves of Team Penske and James Hinchcliffe of Andretti Autosport posted the second and third fastest laps of the day. Castroneves sped to a lap at 222.025 mph while Hinchcliffe recorded a lap of 221.864 mph.
"The car felt great today," said Castroneves. "We worked some more on the race setup, and toward 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."
"It was a pretty reasonable day," added Hinchcliffe. "We went out early and had some reasonable speed on our own and then focused on the race (setup) 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."
Ganassi Racing's Graham Rahal (221.855 mph) and Andretti teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay (221.814 mph) rounded out the fast five for the day.
"It was great for us, particularly coming off the last couple of days," said Rahal. "We felt the car was good all along; we just couldn't figure out where the speed was. We put a new Honda engine in it last night, and boom. Pretty pleased with the car today. The guys have been working really hard, and we got to run with a bit of traffic in the end. It was incredibly hectic, but I don't know. Maybe a sign of things to come. We'll see what happens in the race."
"It was another productive day," offered Hunter-Reay. "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 toward the top when we're running alone and up toward 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 percent focused on the race and 10 percent on qualifying at the moment, and that will change on Friday, but right now we're focused on race setup."
A total of 35 cars are at the Speedway, with all of them passing technical inspection now.
Thirty-one drivers tested the track today and turned 1,602 laps.
James Jakes turned 100 laps today, again as yesterday (Monday) the most of any driver. There were five cautions for a total of 45 minutes.
Practice continues on May 16th from noon to 6 PM EDT.
The Indianapolis 500 will be televised by ABC at 11AM EDT in 12 days from today, and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network.