Chevrolet Racing Indy 500 practice day 5 report

Team Chevy Racing

Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport Chevrolet
Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

For the Chevrolet V-6 powered teams and drivers, it was a busy day as preparations continue for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500.

For the first time in the month of May Indianapolis 500 activities, there was one on-track incident with approximately 15 minutes remaining in the six-hour practice session. Rookie Josef Newgarden spun and made incidental contact with the wall, however, it was a clean day for all 14 Chevrolet V-6 drivers.

The majority of the Team Chevy efforts today were directed at race set-up and how the cars run in a pack. Starting tomorrow, more emphasis will be placed on putting the car in qualifying trim and getting ready to make a run for the front row on Pole Day, Saturday, May 19th.

Practice will resume Thursday at noon.


MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 26 TEAM RC COLA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – 2nd QUICKEST: “We are still making gains on the race setup. The RC Cola guys have all been working great together as a team to really develop a good race car. I would say we are a change or two away from being the one to beat on May 27th. We have some more work to do when it comes to the car’s speed on its own. Once we get the car right, it won’t matter where we start.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 28 TEAM DHL/SUN DROP CITRUS SODA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – 3RD QUICKEST: ON HIS DAY: “I think it was a good day. We just concentrated on making our cars better in traffic and race trim. Obviously most of these speeds come from traffic tows. We were all on tows at some point. It just depends on how and when it happens. Most importantly, we didn’t try and set any up. We just got to work in traffic. The Andretti Autosport cars have been working really well so far. We have been making progress. As a team we have been working really well together. It has been a cohesive unit. It’s pretty impressive to see how things have been operating so far. Now the goal is going into qualifying is to keep that teamwork going; get through the weekend, and I think we’re most of the way there, or part of the way there on some pretty good race cars. That’s most important for us.”

IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU CAN TAKE FROM LAST YEAR’S CAR, OR DO YOU JUST START TOTALLY FROM ZERO? “Well, you can take some things. But no, we’re starting over again with this car. I really have to credit the team. They’ve been working so hard since last year; we came here and had a pretty tough time. They’ve re-doubled their efforts for Indianapolis and it’s really showing now. It’s a lot of fun, being in a good race car here and making changes and making things better and it really is starting from scratch with this car, I think. We’ve learned that. So, that’s been a highlight for us. That’s been something that we hope we can take advantage of and make the most of on race day.”

IS THERE ANY GUIDELINE TO GET HELP FROM THE DALLARA FACTORY OR DO YOU JUST GET THE CAR AND THEN IT’S UP TO YOUR TEAM TO MAKE THE BEST OUT OF IT? “Yeah, there hasn’t been one, for sure. But you know, they’ve made good progress on this car and developed it. We have Dan Wheldon to thank for that as well, as it’s so aptly named the DW12. But part of the fun thing too is working with Chevrolet and making the car better and the power and we’re in a fight with Honda right now, and nobody really knows who has the upper-hand. But certainly Chevrolet has strong-armed the beginning of the season so far and we hope that continues. We certainly feel like we have the power to go out and win this thing with them. But it’ll be tough. There’s a lot of Hondas up there, that’s for sure.”

THE DRIVERS HAVE TALKED ABOUT THE CARS SUCKING UP IN THE TOW AS YOU’RE GOING OFF INTO THE TURNS. TALK ABOUT AS THE BOOST GETS ADDED ON FRIDAY HOW MUCH QUICKER DO YOU THINK THE CARS ARE GOING TO RESPOND TO BEING SUCKED UP TO ANOTHER CAR HEADING OFF INTO THE TURNS AND THE DRAFT “Well, the whole idea behind the boost is for qualifying; that we’re all going to be trimmed out. And the idea is not to run in traffic. So, you’re really doing yourself a disservice if you go out there and put yourself in the draft; because then you really don’t know how fast you are. You’ll see over the next few days; Thursday and Friday, and then obviously Pole Day, that we’ll be giving ourselves as much of a clean track as we possibly can, and trying to get the most out of all that boost and lowering that rear wing.”

MARCO ANDRETTI WAS IN HERE YESTERDAY AND SAID HE THINKS HE CAN WIN FROM 33RD WITH THE DRAFT, AND THAT SOMEBODY COULD DRAFT UP. HOW IMPORTANT IS QUALIFYING? HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO START NEAR THE FRONT? “Well, it’s important because we’ve been working so hard on these cars. And we want to start up front. That’s the goal is to do well in qualifying. We want to be a part of Pole Day. We want to be a part of that final fast nine and go out there and have a shootout. That’s what we want to do for sure. It’s always better when you start up front and run up front. That’s the whole goal. You’re less likely to get caught-up in incidents being up front. Everything just tends to go a lot smoother up there. So, trust me; we’re very focused on that despite the fact that qualifying not being a premium or whatever, it’s very important to us.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NO. 27 TEAM GODADDY.COM ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – 4TH QUICKEST: ON HIS DAY: HOW MUCH DATA TO THE ENGINEERS HAVE TO DETERMINE WHAT YOU WERE DOING BY YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU DID IN A PACK? “We have tools to try and eliminate tow laps so you have a little bit better sense, not only of ourselves, but everybody’s doing. But, ultimately between our cars and the timing data that we can get, there is so much data to pour through. And on top of what we are learning with the new car, we are learning an awful lot more than we have the last couple of years. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, compared to last year with no rain days…rain days last year were just spent pouring through all the data that you are gathering through this week of testing. We haven’t had a chance to do that, so we’re shot-gunning a couple of things trying to get as much track time as we can when we’ve got it. We think that will lead to a lot more engineering and de-briefs and meetings and stuff next week when we’re not on track. As Ryan said, I think the Andretti Autosport cars are quick on our own. We are really working on our race cars now. It has been so nice to work with this group of drivers and engineers because we have been coordinating ourselves on-track. With the new car, there is a lot to learn. We’ve structured it pretty well, and we’ve stuck to plan. It’s such a nice feeling to work with a group like this.”

THE ’96 INDIANAPOLIS WINNER, BUDDY LAZIER, AND HE SAID FOR A RACE DRIVER, ITS SORT OF FUN TO SORT OUT A NEW CAR. WOULD YOU AGREE WITH THAT STATEMENT?“One hundred percent. This is one of the things I look forward to the most. When I was younger and thought about getting up and being a top-level racing driver because when you go through the junior formula, you’re moving into a spec car that’s been developed by somebody else and then probably raced for a couple of years already. And you’re tuning it. You’re not developing it. And even last year’s car was sort of along those lines. It was at the end of its development cycle and there really wasn’t a whole lot left to figure out. And so, coming into this year, it was a super exciting task for us and not just us as drivers, but the engineers have really got to sort of flex their brain muscles again. And the mechanics are a lot of these guys who are around when you see a new car every single season. And that was a lot of fun for them and they’ve sort of just been rubbing on and polishing the same car for the last few years. So, they were, even though it was a lot of seven-day weeks and 12-hour days, they love it. They love having a new toy to play with. So it’s been really exciting.”

IS THERE ANY GUIDELINE TO GET HELP FROM THE DALLARA FACTORY OR DO YOU JUST GET THE CAR AND THEN IT’S UP TO YOUR TEAM TO MAKE THE BEST OUT OF IT? “I think for the most part it’s really up to the teams. Obviously there was some manufacturer testing at the end of last year, and with the Chevy test car we were able to learn a little bit. But that again, that was more manufacturing testing; it wasn’t so much Dallara testing. And I haven’t seen a manual from them on how to set it up (laughs), we we’ve sort of been on our own.”

THE DRIVERS HAVE TALKED ABOUT THE CARS SUCKING UP IN THE TOW AS YOU’RE GOING OFF INTO THE TURNS. TALK ABOUT AS THE BOOST GETS ADDED ON FRIDAY HOW MUCH QUICKER DO YOU THINK THE CARS ARE GOING TO RESPOND TO BEING SUCKED UP TO ANOTHER CAR HEADING OFF INTO THE TURNS AND THE DRAFT: “Yeah, I think it’s a non-event for qualifying and for the practice that we’re going to have that extra horsepower. But that phenomenon is still going to be something we’re going to have to deal with in the race. It’s something that I think is going to come up in the driver’s meeting that people need to be pretty smart out there because it’s a long race and this is a different style of racing than we’re used to at this track.”

I TAKE IT NEITHER OF YOU HAVE BEEN ANYWHERE NEAR ANY SORT OF QUALIFYING SIMULATION AT ALL? “We’ve done a little bit of qualifying work. Obviously the emphasis is on the race for obvious reasons. You know, we don’t have to ‘make the show’. We’re in. We know that. We’re here, so we’re in. And unfortunately, that’s always an exciting part of qualifying weekend. But so yeah, we’ve definitely done some work on getting the cars good in qualifying trim. I don’t think anyone on our team has really properly said it and gone for the all-out run. But we’ll see when we have that extra horsepower and practice a little bit with that on Friday and see how it unfolds on Saturday.”

MARCO ANDRETTI WAS IN HERE YESTERDAY AND SAID HE THINKS HE CAN WIN FROM 33RD WITH THE DRAFT, AND THAT SOMEBODY COULD DRAFT UP. HOW IMPORTANT IS QUALIFYING? HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO START NEAR THE FRONT? “I believe Marco’s statement is true. I think you could feasibly start last and win the race. But that’s not the ideal situation (laughs). So, it’s really a much-less traumatic day if you start up-front and run up-front and finish up front. I think in a 500-mile race, there’s a million other variables that are potentially working against you, so eliminate one by starting up front. I think that’s a more ideal situation. I mean if he wants to volunteer and do that, I mean it would be a hell of a show (laughs) and I would cheer for him; no doubt about it (laughs). But that’s certainly not the road I’m going to try and take.”

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA, NO. 17 TEAM AFS ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, 10TH QUICKEST: “Today was a very good day for the Andretti Autosport cars and the AFS Racing team. It was a really positive day because we are working well together as a team. We have a very consistent car and it is all a learning process. I am enjoying it very much, so we will see where it takes us tomorrow.”

JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 4 NATIONAL GUARD PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET – 11TH QUICKEST: "It’s good to get out there again today. We didn’t have as organized of a race run as we wanted there at the end of the day because we kept having cars come out right in front of us in the pits. It’s good to be able to continue to get a feel for the National Guard Chevy and there was a couple of specific things that we were looking to try to address today that we got a feel for in that run. In the end, we’re banking tires and we’ll be able to do some more running later in the week.”

TONY KANAAN, NO. 11 ITAIPAVA | GEICO | MOUSER ELECTRONICS – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET – 13TH QUICKEST: “We continued to work on our race setup today and finding out how the car reacts when it is in traffic. It was an uneventful day and hopefully tomorrow will be the same.”

ANA BEATRIZ, NO. 25 TEAM IPIRANGA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT / CONQUEST RACING CHEVROLET – 18TH QUICKEST: “I think we made a lot of good progress today when it comes to the race setup. We were able to realize some of the good and not so good aspects of the car. I am looking forward to even more improvements for the Ipiranga team. Tomorrow we will probably focus more on qualifying. We are getting one step closer each day to having the car we need for race day.”

ORIOL SERVIA, NO. 22 PANTHER/DREYER & REINBOLD RACING CHEVROLET – 21ST QUICKEST: “We tried several things and we discovered some other ones. I think that we have come up with something that is going to help me a lot for the race. We just don’t know yet if it’s something that’s going to be good for qualifying or not, but we still have tomorrow to decide. I’m happy because we really found something that I think will make the racecar the way we need it to be fighting for the win next Sunday.

ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S PREMIUM ULTRA VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET – 22ND QUICKEST: “We tried a lot of things today with the wind. We are still missing something with the new car. Obviously, we are not where we want to be just yet. We have been making progress each day. It is getting to the point where we have some time to get a good setup, but we are getting closer to the qualifying weekend. So time is precious. We are not discouraged with the progress we are making, but I’m a little disappointed we haven’t made the big jump up the time sheets yet. We have had some decent days in practice, but just not that one day that jumps us up to a proper speed. We seem pretty good in three of the four corners, and we need to work on the one turn that hurts us. We will keep working on it and find that sweet spot with this new car.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 SHELL V-POWER/PENNZOIL ULTRA TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – 23RD QUICKEST: " We started a little late, but the No. 3 Shell Pennzoil is looking good. We tried to manage the tires to make sure we have enough for when it really matters, which is Saturday. Right now we are moving in the right direction. Chevy, Ilmor and everybody are working together so we can have a quality engine and ultimately a good racecar."

WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – 24TH QUICKEST: "We didn't run our Verizon car too much today. We did a little work on it - just tried a couple things - getting ready for the next couple of days. It's been good having such great weather as it allows us plenty of time to work through our process."

RUBENS BARRICHELLO, NO. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET – 26TH QUICKEST: race from when it is full of fuel to almost empty. We made some progress with some of the changes today and hopefully we are going in the right direction."

RYAN BRISCOE, NO. 2 IZOD TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – 27TH QUICKEST: "Pretty slow day for the No. 2 IZOD car, we just did one run. After we made some changes and did a baseline run the car felt pretty good. For now we are conserving tires, but we will get back into it tomorrow and continue to improve. "

E .J. VISO, NO. 5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET – 28TH QUICKEST: “It was another day of working on the race setup. It definitely hasn’t been fun so far. It was a tough day. One of our big priorities is to develop a fast car for qualifying and a safe and fast car for the race, which is what we have been trying to achieve. We tried a bunch of things that didn’t really work out, however by the end of the day things took a turn to the positive side and we will keep working on that tomorrow.”

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Dan Wheldon , Marco Andretti , Josef Newgarden
Teams Andretti Autosport
Tags andretti, chevrolet, hildebrand, hinchliffe, hunter-reay, saavedra