Team Chevy driver quotes following first qualifying attempt to lock into field

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Ed Carpenter: "I think we have a good chance for the pole on Sunday but the field is very tight this year."

HELIO CASTRONEVES, No. 3 PENNZOIL ULTRA PLATINUM TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FOLLOWING FIRST QUALIFYING ATTEMPT: “It’s good to actually hear what he is saying because it sounds like we are in kind of a similar scenario. The car feels fantastic. The Pennzoil car looks really good. I was kind of surprised to be honest for the speed. I thought we were going to pull at least a 229.9 or close to 230. When I saw the 229.3 I was like ‘uh’ I don’t like that.

Yeah, similar to what he is saying we have got to figure out the quick. We know we have a plan B obviously and that is what we are going to try to do and let’s see what happens. Yeah, the only thing I wish actually would be a little wind, because the track condition is absolutely perfect. With the new rules you are allowed to go without losing your time depending on the line you go in.

That is what we are going to do. We are going to try to keep going and squeeze. I know all the guys are going to go. I heard obviously the Ganassi and yes, you want to be the fastest out there today, but the main key is to be in the top nine. At this point that is what we are going to focus on right now.”

ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, FOLLOWING FIRST QUALIFYING ATTEMPT: “To be honest, I wasn’t sure we would run that quick this morning. I am happy with that and now it is just sitting back and seeing what everyone else does. I really don’t want to make two runs today. I think there are a couple of little things we can do to get some more speed out of it. But I would rather test that stuff on Sunday.

Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

I think we have a good chance for the pole on Sunday but the field is very tight this year. There are so many good cars and drivers out there that I don’t really know where we sit right now. It will come down on who gets it right on the day for the pole. It really comes down to being perfect for four laps. It makes for the a long day because you have to sit around and see what everyone else can do on Saturday. If you would have told that we were going run 230 for an average, I would have said it’s a top nine spot.

But I don’t know right now. If we have to go back out now, I think we can get some more out of the Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy. I thought it would take about a 229 or 228.5 to get into the top nine before this morning’s runs. Then a lot of guys ran 230 this morning, so I am just not sure where our 230 run stands. I hope it remains on the top of the charts. In a perfect world, we make one run today and one run on Sunday. We’ll just wait and see right now.”

WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FOLLOWING FIRST QUALIFYING ATTEMPT: “I felt pretty good. I lifted on that run so obviously got more than that. Just have to go back and have a good look at what we can do with the set-up here. I think we have got a fast enough car, just looking at it right now to definitely be in the top nine, but maybe challenge in the top three. That is the aim for today get in the top- nine.

I think we are good. For us it’s just to get in the fast nine in the safest way possible. I have to say it is very difficult on this new tire. The new tire runs on low downforce, but it’s a very good race tire very durable. So we are just kind of struggling to get a good balance right now in the car for this low downforce tire. I lifted that means when you lift you have a moment so I’ve got to understand what is going on. It’s difficult to tell because we have been running around with such heavy downforce. It’s a little cold and we are on the lightest downforce we have been on. It’s low grip for me right now, it feels that way. I think if it was hotter this tire would be better.”

TOWNSEND BELL, NO. 6 ROBERT GRAHAM - KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET, FOLLOWING FIRST QUALIFYING ATTEMPT: “I think we had a great balance. We had to make some adjustments on the first lap, but it was a very consistent run all the way across. Probably like Tony (Kanaan) I think we’ve got a very good balanced car. It’s essentially very close to what he raced at KV last year. I’m appreciative for his test driver work on my behalf. It’s good it’s just not quite getting the same speed out of it some of the other teams, but from a balance stand point we are pretty happy. Our other teammate cars with (Sebastian) Saavedra and (Sebastien) Bourdais I think have run and the speed is comparable to what I have. We will have to go back and study things and make a decision as to what and how much and when.”

TONY KANAAN, NO.10 TARGET CHIP GANASSI CHEVROLET, FOLLOWING FIRST QUALIFYING ATTEMPT: “We thought my car was faster than Scott’s (Dixon). Obviously we are not as fast as anybody right now. The whole team has been struggling. We probably had a top-12 car going in to today, and then we were going to make it better during the day, and obviously that isn’t the case. So we are going to have to make it better today to try to make it to the fast nine. If not, honestly I won starting 12th last year, so I don’t think it will be a problem.

Last year I had the pressure of winning; this year I have the pressure to win again. You take it in a completely different approach after winning this race. I’m glad that I did it. I’m glad I got to celebrate for a full year. But now it is time to go back to work. The fans have always been great with me here and they still are. I still struggle to walk around here, which is a good problem to have. We’ll keep doing what we are doing. As long as I can keep pleasing them and putting on good races for them, they are still going to cheer for me.”

JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 21 PREFERRED FREEZER ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, FOLLOWING FIRST QUALIFYING ATTEMPT: "I think it was a pretty good run. I had to be pretty quick on the adjustments in the car to try to squeeze a little bit more speed out of it on a couple of laps, which was working well, but on that last lap I lost a little speed so we'll just have to go back through the data and see where that was. It's a long day here today, so we'll see how things shake out after everyone's had a run. we would've liked to have pulled a little bit more speed out of our run, but obviously Ed (Carpenter) has some speed in his car.

So we'll go back and take a look at where the differences are between the two of our runs and go from there. It's not a lot of lap time. The cars are very close together, so maybe there's a little bit of time lost in shifting, or not shifting, warm-up laps, and those kinds of things. With how close everyone is, you're getting into the nitty gritty little bits of detail to determine what's going on. For Ed and me, it's a very transparent relationship so that makes it easier in a situation like this to really figure it out. Especially with Ed being as quick as he is, I doubt that we'll really be in a position to bump him out. So we'll see what things look like in a bit."

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 2 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FOLLOWING FIRST QUALIFYING ATTEMPT: “It is good to be back. I thought we could have run a 230 (mph). We made some changes and we were just sliding around a little too much in qualifying and just dragging the car down a little too much. It’s not bad. That is what we do…it is normal. We feel like we have a really fast car for the race. As the day goes on, we will understand better where we are and how good our car is; how much speed it has; and go from there.

I think we know what we need to do with the car. We are going to give it another run later. It’s hard to know because it is so close. I think we are going to somewhere between eighth and twelfth. So we are going to have to really push that issue a little more. I think qualifying is great. I think what they did is really, really good. I think it is awesome the way they did it because you are going to have people running all day. I mean going at it all day. I think if you are going to do a test run, you might as well just time it.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No. 11 No. 11 HYDROXYCUT/MISTIC E-CIGS – KVSH RACING CHEVROLET, FOLLOWING FIRST QUALIFYING ATTEMPT: “We spent a lot of time to get it right for the race. The car is definitely pretty racy. It’s pretty comfortable in traffic and we got it better during the week. We tried quite a few things and I think we have it much better understanding of what we are looking for in race trim than we do in qualifying trim mode. Obviously we didn’t get much practice so that is kind of a shot in the dark a bit because this morning was the first time we came with the rear wing laid back in qualifying trim.

Sébastien Bourdais, KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
Sébastien Bourdais, KV Racing Technology Chevrolet

Photo by: Jay Alley

It’s not easy, but it was a pretty solid run. We kind of scrubbed a bit too much on lap two and four coming off of (Turn) two it was the tail wind but that was about it. Really there wasn’t much going. I think Fast Friday with the high boost and everything was the day dedicated to qualifying running so we got seven laps in. It’s kind of tricky, but it is what it is. We have seen plenty of upsets coming from the back here. The great thing is now we have to do it all over again tomorrow anyways. We are not necessarily going to stop there we are going to keep at it and make it as far forward as possible.

I just feel we can’t content for the fast nine if we don’t make it today. 10th place would be alright. It’s a couple of changes front, rear just changing a bit of cross weight and things like that. Essentially I think it’s a little better tire. It seems to leave a lot less vibrations from everybody’s feedback and stuff. It seems a bit more durable as well. The grip seems to be a bit more consistent through runs and stuff so it’s a better tire. But it requires a little bit different set-up not dramatic just a couple of adjustments here and there.”

RYAN BRISCOE, NO. 8 NTT DATA CHIP GANASSI RACING CHEVROLET, FOLLOWING FIRST QUALIFYING ATTEMPT: “I was just talking to him (Scott Dixon). As a team we have got to put our thinking caps on a little bit. It’s definitely not a question of downforce. We just need to find some speed somehow. We’ve got a long day ahead of us, but we will be able to practice later, have a couple more qualifying attempts and do our best. The car felt reasonable, we just need to find the speed. It’s got to be there. There are no excuses we just need to really put our thinking caps on here and see.

We haven’t had much opportunity to practice qualifying and really start searching. So today we are going to get into that and make a long day of it. I mean that is where he coming from the stand point of as far as trimming out goes they won’t let us take the rear wing off so that would be the next step for us (laughs). But it is something else. I think it’s not just about the downforce number. I mean (Ed) Carpenter is running more downforce than any of us and he is the quickest car out there. Whatever they are doing they are doing it right and we need to try to figure it out pretty quickly.”

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA, NO. AFS 17 KV AFS RACING CHEVROLET, FOLLOWING FIRST QUALIFYING ATTEMPT: “It’s hard to believe that this is the same car that was involved in the big accident last weekend. I am so proud of the KV AFS Racing guys, they did an amazing job putting the car back together in two days. We lost a lot of time on track, but we are here and the car feels good. To be at the same pace as my teammates with a car that is not fully build for this event is a great feeling. We haven’t focused so much time on the qualifying trim, so I know we have a good race car and now we focus on the race next weekend.”

SAGE KARAM, NO. 22 COMFORT REVOLUTION/BRANTLEY GILBERT DREYER & REINBOLD KINGDOM RACING CHEVROLET, FOLLOWING FIRST QUALIFYING ATTEMPT: “Today was great. We qualified and made the show. We’re in the Indianapolis 500, which has been a dream of mine as long as I can remember. To finally accomplish that is an incredible feeling for me and also my family, because we’ve worked so hard for it. As far as the car is concerned, it’s great as well. Dreyer & Reinbold-Kingdom Racing put a really good car together for me. We know it’s not today that counts, but tomorrow and next Sunday. Hopefully tomorrow we can find another couple tenths in the Comfort Revolution/Brantley Gilbert car, and try to qualify towards the front. Right now we’re sitting about mid-pack, which I can work with, but if we can get up to tenth, it’ll be a whole lot easier on me, and we’ll have a lot more fun with that, so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

SCOTT DIXON, NO. 9 TARGET CHIP GANASSI RACING CHEVROLET, FOLLOWING FIRST QUALIFYING ATTEMPT: “We’re a mile-and-a-half off right now, and we are trimmer than a lot of the cars out there with the exception to the Penske’s that are pretty trimmed. It is hard to see when Ed (Carpenter) rolls out there, they have a lot of downforce on them, and goes out there and knocks off some 230s (mph) right out of the box. I think fundamentally we are missing something right now. A mile-and-a-half doesn’t sound like that much, but it is. The unfortunate part is you work probably six months of the year trying to find the combinations that you want to run, and we think we get the best speed out of it.

We have to try and reinvent the wheel in the next hour or two. Hopefully that will help us find some speed. I watched the No. 8 (Ryan Briscoe) to see how it ran. They are fairly similar. I think the No. 10 (Tony Kanaan) seems a little more solid than we are right now for speed. But probably for only a half-a-mile-an-hour. In general we are still lacking. So, we’ll see how everybody goes for the first run and we will start working on some big set-up changes here, and take a few practice runs to see if we can find some speed. Right now. If we run through all these spots, we are going to be sitting back in about 20th or 21st. So we have a lot of work to do.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL, NO. 83 NOVOLOG FLEXPEN CHIP GANASSI RACING CHEVROLET, FOLLOWING FIRST QUALIFYING ATTEMPT: “It’s pretty tight but that is the Verizon IndyCar Series for you at the moment. It’s super competitive and you know you have to get the most out of the car. With the weather conditions the last couple of days getting limited qualifying running yesterday and then with the temperatures this morning limiting how much we were able to do in that 8 – 10 a.m. time frame I’m pretty happy with the No. 83 Novo Flex Pen colors effort in qualifying. It was a solid flag in the ground as a baseline.

The nice thing about the updated qualifying, I guess the nice and challenging thing is, you don’t have to withdraw your time to go try again. So the track may never open for practice because people may just stay in line because they don’t have to risk it. I think that what eventually will come is if you are so confident in going quicker you withdraw your time and take it. But as far as the 83 car and the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing side we have to go back and look at the data and see if we can find a little bit more. See what’s left in my engineer and my teams’ bag of tricks. I know they always have something up their sleeve.

We will go back and look at it. We will compare data with the No. 9 car, the No. 8 car, as well as the No. 10 who ran in very similar track conditions to me right after me. We will compare that. We definitely started working towards the qualifying set-up as far as downforce level trimming out this morning. Understanding that as the day warmed up ambient wise some but the track conditions the track temperature coming up would change the handling a little bit. We erred on that side of caution a little bit mechanically, but I think aerodynamically going from 45 degrees to 50 degrees it’s not like going from 50 to 80 ambient wise.

What little understanding I’ve garnered from the engineering staff it’s more ambient temperature on aerodynamics than anything else. We will just have to see what the rest of the day brings. I think it’s supposed to continue to warm up later into the day. I don’t know if it’s supposed to cloud up there were some gray clouds rolling in. I don’t know if that will cool the track back down and the air will still be warm and thin and quick, but that is something the engineers would be able to tell me a lot better than I would be able to guesstimate.”

BUDDY LAZIER, NO. 91 WYNN INSTITUTE FOR VISION RESEARCH CHEVROLET, FOLLOWING FIRST QUALIFYING ATTEMPT: “We had the first qualifying pull and we missed that spot this morning and so the thought was to wait until it opens for practice and go to a balance check and make a run. But I got the sense that there was rain possibly coming it did sprinkle a little bit so we hurried up and went sort of blind in a way. It was actually a good run. I think we had less than 20 laps at speed and we don’t have a teammate so we missed four days of practice.

That is the thing I just don’t want to do anymore. It still is too much. It is difficult to make up so instead of using experience to really do well we are just trying to get caught up all the time. It’s a good car. We’ve got a great engineer with David Cripps. We are just starting to learn each other all the crew. It did come together very last minute so I think in the future that will be our goal is to make sure that doesn’t happen like it did this year and last. Well (this year) it’s better preparation and our plan was to be a lot better. We had some things that didn’t go right in the off season. Without getting into too much detail we were certainly better but at the same time we are really supposed to be.

I think we are all a little disappointed with the last minute nature of it and there were reasons for all that. But at the same time we are excited about being here and try to make the most of it. We have some great sponsors with us this year with Herman Miller, the University of Iowa Stephen Wynn Institute which is something we are really excited about and is unique. We have Phillips Energy Partners which is a great group out of Texas. Our sponsors the support I just want to do a great job for them. It came together last minute but we think we have a lot more potential on race day in particular. We may make another run.”

JAMES DAVISON, NO. 33 KV RACING TECHNOLOGY/ALWAYS EVOLVING RACING CHEVROLET, FOLLOWING FIRST QUALIFYING ATTEMPT: “It wasn’t long ago that our deal was announced. We are running a half-program, hence why we have sat out of a lot of running. Someone asked me before if the weather had hurt us, but not really because we can’t run too many miles any way. We get 500 miles of practice and qualifying on our engine that we can run. We need to use them wisely for the race. Prior to this morning, all I had down was rookie orientation. So we got a little bit done this morning on the car. We are about 80 percent way there on the wing angle to the other cars. That is going to be worth a mile-an-hour or two. We really need to use our miles wisely for race set-up, so unless we need to, we won’t go back out.”

Team Chevy

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About this article
Series INDYCAR
Event Indy 500
Article type Qualifying report
Tags buddy lazier, charlie kimball, ed carpenter, helio castroneves, indianapolis 500, indycar, james davison, jr hildebrand, juan pablo montoya, ryan briscoe, sage karam, scott dixon, sebastian saavedra, sebastien bourdais, tony kanaan, townsend bell, will power