Pagenaud leads final practice, Castroneves' crew wins pit stop contest

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Carb Day was busy with the final Indy 500 practice with Simon Pagenaud setting fastest lap. The pit stop contest was won again by Helio Castroneves and Team Penske.

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, May 24, 2013 - Simon Pagenaud hopes Coors Light Carb Day is a good indication of Indianapolis 500 Race Day.

Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda
Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda

Photo by: Jay Alley

Pagenaud, who will start the 97th Indianapolis 500 from the outside of the seventh row, topped the speed chart for the final practice session, the final opportunity for teams to fine-tune their cars before Race Day.

Pagenaud, driving the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda, topped the speed chart with a quick lap of 225.827 mph with Andretti Autosport E.J Viso (225.304 mph) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (225.053) right behind.

Similarly, Helio Castroneves hopes that winning the IZOD Indy 500 Pit Stop Competition could be a good omen for him.

Castroneves, driving the No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Chevrolet, defeated Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the championship round. His pit crew received the $50,000 first place prize for its speed and accuracy.

The winner of the competition has gone on to win the Indianapolis 500 six times, most recently with Castroneves in 2009. It was the 14th win for Team Penske and sixth for Castroneves in the pit stop contest, which extended their records.

Coors Light Carb Day notebook

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh talked today about driving the 2014 Corvette Stingray Pace Car to lead the starting field to the green flag for the 97th Indianapolis 500 Sunday. Harbaugh played for the Indianapolis Colts during his NFL career and is a longtime partner in Panther Racing.

Jim Harbaugh: "It's just fantastic. It's great to be back here and watch the team, watch our drivers and some of the youngsters, too. Ed Carpenter, I knew him when he was a child; same with Conor Daly. To see those two guys out here doing what they're doing, it's just wonderful." (On driving the Pace Car): "Well, it’s like, 'How'd you get so lucky?' I'm just lucky, I guess. I was thrilled when they told me they were considering me. To be able to do it; I'm really thrilled to do it. It's going to be one of life's memorable moments. I need some work, though." (On receiving Pace Car coaching from three-time Indy 500 winner Johnny Rutherford): "I got that going for me. Mr. Rutherford took me around the track this morning and showed me how to do it. Then he let me do it for four or five laps. I need some work, but I'll get it down with him in my corner."

Indianapolis 500 final practice quotes

Ed Carpenter (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Chevrolet Racing): "We were going to run 20 to 25 laps today. But the car felt good, so we did a couple of pit stops and parked the Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet after 18 laps. It would have been fun to go out and play longer, but it isn't necessary. The smart thing to do is just put the car away and prepare for Sunday. We will continue to go with our plan right now. It worked last week for us. We ran race setup all week until Friday when we trimmed out the car for qualifying. I feel we have a fast car today. We think conditions will be similar on Sunday, too. This week has been pretty crazy but fun. We had 16 appearances Thursday, so it was busy. But you have to enjoy it. You never know when this situation will happen again. I feel super-confident that we have the tools and the team to win this race. We won the last 500-miler in Fontana, so we know we can do it. We just have to execute and go with the game plan. It's easy to get excited with this kind of car. I just need to remain calm and be ready to run a strong race."

Tristan Vautier (No. 55 Lucas Oil/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "Practice was difficult for the first 45 minutes; we struggled a bit. The car was too low, but we were able to find some good things in the last run and will have to find more speed for the race."

Charlie Kimball (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): "I think the final practice today was really good. We made improvements, not only to the car but to pit stops and racecraft. Through the course of the week, we looked at some data and have a good foundation of what we need to do come Race Day on Sunday. Obviously, we'll look through the data and maybe make a few small changes, but I'm really confident in the guys and in the race car. I think we'll be in really good shape. We have the pit stop competition this afternoon, and I have the upmost confidence in the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car crew."

Ryan Briscoe (No. 8 NTT DATA Honda): "We were making a lot of changes in the final practice today. I finished feeling really strong with the last change we made to our dampers. It was really good, so I'm very happy with the way the car was feeling. We were actually on a huge lap, coming to the checkered flag before the engine went. But looking at the bright side of things, it's better to happen now than the first couple laps of the race. So maybe we'll be really lucky and be able to put in a fresh engine without a penalty for the start of the race. It looks like the cars are running strong, so I'm feeling good for the race."

Josef Newgarden (No. 21 Sarah Fisher Hartman/Century 21 Honda): "It felt great. That's what this session was all about is getting back in the rhythm of things and feeling comfortable with what we're going to do in the race, and I think we absolutely achieved that. So I'm excited for Sunday."

Graham Rahal (No. 15 Midas/Big O Tires Honda): "The Midas/Big O Tires car feels pretty good. I'm pleased with where we're at, handling wise. In traffic, it felt pretty comfortable. We will keep working at it. I don't think we're far off at all. Now it's just a matter of going racing in the biggest race of the year."

James Jakes (No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Honda): "We've got a great car. The Acorn Stairlifts car has been good all through the latter part of the testing week here, and we're excited about the race. I'd be happy to go out and race right now, to be honest. We'll see what happens on Race Day. The Honda guys have been back in the shop last week working very hard. We've worked hard since we got here, and now there are no more setup changes needed. We knew that going in. We may make a slight adjustment here and there, but nothing big."

Simon Pagenaud (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "The car is really good in race trim. We are really happy with the way it used up the tires, the way it goes through its stints. Honda has done a lot of work before qualifying and after qualifying, and Honda's racing mentality is to go racing and that's exactly what they're doing. They provided us with an engine that is clearly a lot better, so it's a good sign for the race. The car is up there. It's good for HP, and it's good for Honda. I'm really happy for my guys. For them, it's great to go into a race with such a positive note. The goal was obviously to do an out and in just to check that everything was running normally. Then afterward everyone pretty much practiced pit stops, get the guys up to speed, stretching them a little bit. And then it was good for us to get our marks. When you are going 230 mph and all of a sudden you have to go into pit lane, it's actually difficult when you put it into pit lane with the car that speed, so it's important to get into a routine for Sunday."

Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): "It was a good session. We tried quite a few different things in a short amount of time. I think some of the biggest observations was that it was cold, so the car handled a bit different; different wind direction than what we've been used to most of the week. The Hondas turned up the power, which we were expecting. It's going to be a pretty hard-fought race. It's Carb Day. It was a warm-up. It doesn't really mean anything. You get a feeling for what your car does, and that's about what it's good for. We see some people out there running more trim than they will be on Sunday and some that are running a little bit heavier than they will on Sunday. You don't really have an idea of where you stand. This stuff is just how big a tow you've got. It doesn't really mean anything." (What do you anticipate Sunday?): "I expect surprises. We had surprises last year with (Takuma) Sato contending for the win. I think, just seeing how that Carb Day ran and how tight everybody was, anybody could be up front. If you have a good day with no real issues in the pits and you keep dialing on your car a little bit, I think we could have any combination of 15 drivers up there challenging for the win. It's good news because it's going to be a heck of a show. I certainly think that any of the Andretti Autosport cars have a shot at winning. But you have to put the whole day together. It's not just about the car that has the best balance and is fastest on the charts. You have to have the right pit stops. You have to have the entire picture come together to win the Indy 500."

Takuma Sato (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "It's important to feel the car in traffic today because it is our final practice before the race. It was very cool today, which makes the car a lot faster. All felt positive, but we need to tune it up a little bit-massage it. The ABC Supply car is in the region, but it's not quite there yet. Felt quite a few positives, so that was really good, and I feel we have a strong car for the race. But we need to go through it and improve on the last bits."

Conor Daly (No. 41 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "Practice was good. We have a lot to work on still, but it was good to get back out there and get more comfortable running in traffic. The pit stops are all new to me. I feel comfortable with the guys and feel that we looked pretty good out there. I just have to get used to hitting my marks and entering pit lane a little bit slower. We have to work hard at getting in and out quickly. Overall, it was just nice to get in and keep working. Now let's go race."

Larry Foyt (Managing director, A.J. Foyt Enterprises): (About problem with Takuma Sato's car at start of practice): "We had an oil leak, which was unfortunate, and we wanted to make sure the problem was fixed and that there was no oil that could get on the racetrack or on other parts of the car. We were just being really careful, which is why we kept coming in and out of the pits and taking everything off to make sure everything was clean and dry because there was no reason to risk anything today."

E.J. Viso (No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA Citgo Chevrolet): "It's been very refreshing working with this team. It's nice. Every time you go to the track, they give you a fast car. There's a great teamwork that we all have - between the drivers, the team itself, the engineers. People ask me: 'What is the biggest difference being on that team? Is it that the cars are very good?' And I say: 'Yeah, of course the cars are really good, but that's not biggest difference. The biggest difference is teamwork,' and we see the result out there. Today was a good day. Last Sunday, my other four teammates were fast. I was not too happy with my race car. We made some changes, and I didn't like them. So today we pretty much went back and put back on our basics, and we're happy. We did plenty of pit stops, we ran in traffic, I ran on my own, and the car responded very nice."

Katherine Legge (No. 81 Angie's List Schmidt Peterson Pelfrey Honda): "I'm just really fortunate that Schmidt Peterson Motorsport gave me a brilliant Angie's List car. They made my life easy. It's been a dream. Jumping in that and it's fast, and I'm super-happy with the car. It's awesome. From the get-go, I could run right up behind people and not have an issue, which a lot of people can't do right now. So assuming the weather in Indiana stays the same for five minutes, then we're going to have a good day Sunday."

INDYCAR

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About this article
Series INDYCAR
Article type Practice report
Tags castroneves, chevrolet, contest, harbaugh, honda, ims, indianapolis, indy500, indycar, pagenaud, penske, pitstop, schmidt hamilton