INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, May 17, 2013) - E.J. Viso's quest for a 230 mph lap fell just short, but the Andretti Autosport driver still recorded the fastest practice lap at Indianapolis since 2003.
Viso recorded a lap of 229.537 mph in the No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA CITGO Chevrolet before rain brought an early end to the day's activity
Viso's Andretti Autosport teammates, Marco Andretti (228.754 mph) and rookie Carlos Munoz (228.520), were next in line on the speed chart. Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car was fourth (228.401) and JR Hildebrand (227.529) was fifth in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car. Munoz, driving the No. 26 Unistraw car, is among the pole contenders despite his first-year status. The last rookie to earn the pole for the 500 Mile Race was Teo Fabi in 1983.
Thirty-two drivers logged 707 laps in the session without incident. Rookie Conor Daly, whose No. 41 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing made contact with the SAFER Barrier exiting Turn 1 on May 16, was the lone driver entered not to get on the track.
Despite the rainout, there's two hours of track time available (8-10 a.m.) preceding the 11 a.m. (ET) start of the first segment of qualifications.
Twenty-four positions will be filled until 4 p.m., when the top nine entries that posted the best four-lap average speed returning at 4:30 for a 90-minute shootout to determine the Verizon P1 Award and set the first three rows for the 97th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 26.
INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE QUOTES:
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Midas/Big O Tires Honda): "Our plan for Fast Friday was to get as many new-tire runs in that we could to see how the balance is and to see how much speed we could get out of the car, and I think we found some good stuff. We made some changes today to the Midas/Big O Tires car that will not only improve the car for qualifying but also in the race. It's always good when you find things like that. We'll just keep moving forward. I feel good about where we are. I think we're certainly among the best of the Honda's. There is a little bit more room to go, but we're close." (About getting nervous for qualifying): "I think everybody gets nervous; it's just part of the deal. It's one of the biggest days of your life every year to come here and qualify at Indy. We'll be giving it our all, I know that."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 21 Sarah Fisher Hartman/Century 21 Honda): "It was a short day for us, but we got through what we needed to for what today was. It was a half day with the rain, but we got through all of our qual setups, and I think we're prepared for what we need to do tomorrow. We'll make the most of it, but obviously the race next weekend is what's most important, so that's what we're keeping our focus on. I think it's open still. We have a little better idea of where everyone is at, but I think anything could still change tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how quickly everyone actually runs. We'll see where we'll stack up. I'm not 100 percent sure where we're at, but I think we're looking good relatively to most people, and I think we've got a great race car. I think the adrenaline of having to go out and do four laps at a very tough setup to gain maximum speed in front of a great crowd in Turn 1 is the coolest part. It's a fun experience getting to do that in front of the crowds in the inside and outside of Turn 1 when all the pressure is on you and you have to complete the four laps. It's something that isn't super-easy to do."
JAMES JAKES (No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Honda): "We did a lot of good work today. We were obviously hindered by the weather, but I think we are in good shape. If we put everything together, we should have a strong package for qualifying tomorrow. Obviously now it gives us a chance to look over some data, some extra time. We'll see what happens. All guns blazing tomorrow. All three cars have worked well together all week. I'm excited to get out there tomorrow." (About preference for qualifying draw): "It would be great to be the late teens. I don't want to be the first out, and I don't want to be the last out. To be honest, I don't care: It doesn't really bother me. You have to go out at some point, right? Here qualifying is so different to everywhere else. It's not too dissimilar to a test session apart from the fact that you are the only car on track. Let's see if we can get all three Rahal Letterman Lanigan cars inside the top10."
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (No. 17 Office Depot Honda): "We didn't get as much done before the rain came as we wanted to. We wanted to run five new sets of tires. We had a little problem with the weight jacker that they had to fix this morning, so we were delayed a couple of hours. So we were only able to run one set of tires and do our first trim, so we are a little behind schedule but better than last year. It's tough because it's so competitive. It going to be really tough for me to be in the top 24, but we will see where are tomorrow. In the pre-qualifying practice, we have to do two steps of trimming (the aerodynamic settings of the car), and we'll see if we can get them done in the morning and see what we have for qualifying."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Chevrolet Racing): "It's hard to have a good idea where everyone is at for speed right now. I saw some people get in some legitimate 'no-tow' laps. There are some good cars that I don't think got a 'no tow' lap, too. It's very difficult to predict anything right now. I think the pole will be in the high 227 or low 228 for four laps. I have a good idea of what I think we can run on Saturday, but I'm not sure what everyone else can do. Of course, weather will be a big component on how qualifying plays out. Until everyone goes out in qualifying, you really don't know how good you are with your car. It's really fun for the next two days. It's a lot of pressure, too. There is more pressure to qualifying for me than the race. I love running fast around here. Having the turbo boost turned up for the Chevy is awesome."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet): "I reckon we would have been over 230 (mph) if we would have had a full day. But, obviously, those were tow laps. I think as a team we're quite comfortable with our speeds. Obviously, tomorrow is going to be another day, and it's just going to come down to having a good balance." (Do you learn much in the morning practice before qualifying due to so many cars being on the track?): "I'll be in my bed tomorrow morning. You don't learn a lot. In fact, you can fool yourself. So I think we are close enough from our last couple of runs that we can just run it and qualify." (There is another chance of rain tomorrow. How does that affect your qualifying mentality?) "You don't want to be as conservative on your first run because that could be the pole run if there isn't a top-nine shootout. So you have to go for it on the first run." (Would you say one of the five Andretti cars is the favorite to win the pole?) "I don't know. (Will) Power put up some good laps. It's just going to take a good balance. I think there is five of us in the running for the pole but as far as favorite - there is going to be a lot of factors tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be on the good end of that. They are drawing numbers today, so that will be a factor, as well."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 98 Barracuda Racing Honda): "I'm a lot happier today. We did some really nice changes to the Barracuda Racing car, and it made it a lot nicer to drive. It behaves more like our race car from last year, and it was nice. We needed a bit more speed, but with the changes we made, I feel that we're about 95 percent of where we need to be to get the car ready for qualifying. From this point, I'm really looking forward to the race because I think the car is going to be even better than it was when we did some race running. It's a big positive, and I'm very proud of the Barracuda Racing team."
E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA Citgo Chevrolet): "We went little by little, step by step, trimming the car one step at a time. Until that point, I believe our realistic time was in the high 227s or low 228s. There are so many factors in play when we were running that we really won't know until all of the factors are the same for everyone. I think that we have evolved as a team and heading into the right direction. Every day we've been on the track and testing a number of pieces on the car. And, as of today, we have a stronger car than what we started the week with. It's all about finding as much mechanical grip as possible, and when it comes time to trim it, you should be in a good position if you did your homework." (Is Andretti Autosport the favorite for winning the pole?) "I think we have a strong team, and we will definitely have a good shot for it. But the Penske guys have showed that they are strong. I think Helio (Castroneves) didn't put everything he had in his run before it rained. Will (Power) was fast. AJ (Allmendinger) was the first car to go out on the track, and he was not totally trimmed and he was competitive. Those guys are also doing their homework, and that is what we are here for. It is fun. It is a great month, and the more competitive it is makes it better for the series, better for the team. It's better for everyone, and it's really what we like."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): "Overall, it was a pretty good day for the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team. We rolled out and had a decent baseline. The HPD/Honda group made the adjustments to the boost levels overnight, which we needed a little bit for calibration stuff. We're focused on qualifying but making sure to do it intelligently. We're making progressive steps with downforce and trying to get the speed out of the car. We'll see what the weather does tomorrow. I think we ended up with a pretty good car, so we're pretty happy with that. We have another round of practice tomorrow, so we'll see what we can tweak on it. But other than that, I think we're pretty happy."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 8 NTT DATA Honda): "Today was all about qualifying runs and trimming the car out. We felt pretty confident with it. The setup felt pretty strong, and we were able to do a few runs, clear of traffic. As far as car balance goes, we felt good, but the speed was a little bit down so we need to see what we can do to squeeze a little more speed out of it for tomorrow. Overall, I felt we got the most out of the day before the rain came."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet): "I think the weird thing about Indy is we have 10 times more practice time than anywhere else, yet you always wish you had a little bit more to make it that little bit better. I think it's just a function of a bunch of drivers and a bunch of engineers who are perfectionists and are always striving to make it a little better. But I think we can be pretty pleased with how things have gone. Obviously, having team cars up there all but one day bodes well. Qualifying is definitely going to be tough. There's a lot of quick cars. Finding that right level of downforce that takes enough drag off but doesn't leave you sliding all over the place and scrubbing speed is going to be key, and it would have been nice to have a run or two more to really nail that down. As a team, I think we're confident and it's going be tough because, like I said, there's a lot of fast cars that are going to be going for that Fast Nine. Hopefully we can get there and get the GoDaddy car in a good position for the start of the race." (About importance of starting position versus the quality of the race car): "It's Sunday that everybody cares about. Dario (Franchitti) proved last year that qualifying is not the be-and all-end - he qualified 17th. He even got hit in pit lane and fell right to the back, but he had a good race car and got his way back up to the front. So it's definitely important to focus on the race car. What's so tricky about (IMS) is it's so sensitive to different weather conditions. So if you're working on your race car throughout the entire week and you actually see a variety of different conditions, that's good. Whatever comes around on Race Day, you'll at least have a little bit of an understanding of what the car and track might do."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): "We feel pretty good overall. Still have some work to do, but hopefully the rain will hold off tomorrow and we'll get a shot at showing what we have. Andretti Autosport, as a whole, is competing for the front row again. But the race is really what counts. We need to be in the right position for the last 50 laps and leading on (Lap) 200." (Pole speed prediction): "It's tough to say. Potentially 228."
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Unistraw Chevrolet): "Today was a short day due to weather, but we wanted to get through our qualifying simulations during our afternoon run. We had to get through our runs pretty fast, but I'm really happy with how they went. I think we have a strong car going into qualifying tomorrow. The No. 26 Unistraw Chevy has been running well all week, so I'm looking forward to doing well. I'm really excited going into my first qualifying run for the Indy 500; it's a dream come true. Ever since I was small, I wanted to be in this race. I remember watching Montoya win the Indianapolis 500 in 2000. This is a special race for me; I'm going to give everything I have tomorrow."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "We really didn't have the chance to do much today with the Target car due to weather. We still got to trim out the car a little bit, though, and we got some more performance out of the engines. We didn't really get to achieve much today, though. We came out for our second qualifying simulation, and then the rain came. We'll just have to see how it goes tomorrow."
MIKE HULL (Managing director, Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "It was a pretty short day today because of the rain and storms in the area. Dario had a really good run while the track was still dry, and we made really good progress. The definition of having a team is so you can compare notes. And we'll continue to do that and progress forward. We'll come back strong tomorrow."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "Today was quite straightforward. On Fast Friday, we have higher boost and only look for the qualifying setup. After the first run, we made some good progress, and the second run was quite satisfying. We were not able to explore more due to the rain, but I think we're in quite good shape. We'll review the details tonight and fine-tune the ABC Supply car tomorrow morning to prepare for qualifying. It was short but quite a good day."
CONOR DALY (No. 41 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "It's obviously not ideal that it's raining. I just got my suit on to go back out and unfortunately we can't. We'll see what happens, but at least we have a bit of practice tomorrow morning to get more comfortable with the ABC Supply car and be back to normal. So it should be good. I'm confident, and we'll just see what happens."