Daly dominates at Gateway but cut tires end test early
Conor Daly was sensationally fast and topped both morning and afternoon sessions today at Gateway Motorsports Park, but the action was halted early as the surface was cutting tires.
Daly’s AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet lapped the 1.25-mile oval in Madison, Ill. in just 25.4371sec to top the afternoon session with a fastest speed of 176.907mph.
Said Daly, “I like this place, I think it’s really fun. Turn 1 is super ‘road coursey.’ It’s a real fight getting into the center of it, and with the wind the way it is, it’s obviously a little sketchy on the exit of Turn 2, but man I like it.
“It’s a similar set-up to where we had it at Phoenix, and at Phoenix our car was fast. Mechanically we knew we had a good package, it’s just the that we didn’t get to qualify well because we had no information available on where to trim out.
Daly’s best was over 2.3mph clear of Helio Castroneves in the fastest of the five Team Penske-Chevrolets – Juan Pablo Montoya was testing too – which filled P2 through P5, with Will Power bringing up the rear in P7.
Power was separated from his teammates by the fastest Honda, that of Scott Dixon in the Chip Ganassi Racing #9, while Daly’s teammate Carlos Munoz and Ed Carpenter made it eight Chevys in the Top 10. Ninth fastest was Tony Kanaan in a second Ganassi-Honda, almost one second slower than Daly’s best.
Marco Andretti was top Andretti Autosport representative in 12th, although two of his teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Takuma Sato didn’t get to turn a lap before the final yellow and ultimately checkered flag due to cut tires.
Andretti Autosport team manager Rob Edwards told Motorsport.com: “Every time we sent a driver out, we’d have to stop him after six or seven laps and change the tires because they were cut.
“They don’t really know what’s causing the issue, otherwise they’d solve it. But I think where they’ve made some of the repairs, it’s left a sharp edge.
“And I think this place has always moved a lot, so when they think they’ve found what the problem is, something else pops up. I don’t think any of us can verify and say, ‘This is the issue,’ but there’s just a general concern with the track surface condition."
IndyCar and Gateway Motorsports Park issued a joint statement regarding the early conclusion. It read:
"Gateway Motorsports Park and INDYCAR overcame tremendous challenges to conduct a successful series open test session today, despite 9.5 inches of rain in the two days leading up to the event. Officials worked tirelessly to prepare the racing surface, which included drilling holes to relieve pressure of ground water and additional proactive measures.
"During the course of today's practices, conditions developed that made it necessary to stop the test early, within an hour of the scheduled end time. The conditions will be promptly addressed by IndyCar and Gateway officials, and all are confident of a successful resolution when the series returns to the track."
Hildebrand did not take part in the afternoon session after shunting in the morning session.
Jay Howard, who will race a third Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car at the Indy 500, used James Hinchcliffe's car to refamiliarize himself with an IndyCar. Howard raced in the 2008, ’10 and ’11 Indy 500s. The 36-year-old Briton's last IndyCar start was the ill-fated 2011 finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which was canceled after the huge shunt in which Dan Wheldon lost his life.
Driver Team Speed Total laps
1. Conor Daly AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet 176.907 67
2. Helio Castroneves Team Penske-Chevrolet 174.559 78
3. Juan Montoya Team Penske-Chevrolet 174.339 55
4. Josef Newgarden Team Penske-Chevrolet 174.329 52
5. Simon Pagenaud Team Penske-Chevrolet 172.716 61
6. Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda 172.130 24
7. Will Power Team Penske-Chevrolet 171.920 52
8. Carlos Munoz AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet 17.432 43
9. Tony Kanaan Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda 170.260 25
10. Ed Carpenter Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet 170.125 52
11. Mikhail Aleshin Schmidt Peterson-Honda 169.816 46
12. Sebastien Bourdais Dale Coyne Racing-Honda 168.988 45
13. Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport-Honda 168.876 43
14. JR Hildebrand Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet 168.598 22
15. Alexander Rossi Andretti-Herta Autosport-Honda 168.410 30
16. James Hinchcliffe Schmidt Peterson-Honda 168.396 24
17. Max Chilton Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda 168.151 50
18. Ed Jones Dale Coyne Racing-Honda 167.902 48
19. Charlie Kimball Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda 166.787 30
20. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport-Honda 165.531 15
21. Takuma Sato Andretti Autosport-Honda 164.465 11
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