Indianapolis Motor Speedway
CASTRONEVES TOPS "FAST FRIDAY" PRACTICE FOR INDIANAPOLIS 500
INDIANAPOLIS - Helio Castroneves laid down a marker of 228.611 mph that roused the sun-soaked crowd at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and raised a few competitors' eyebrows on Fast Friday, the six-hour session in which 39 drivers prepared for Pole Day by recording 2,254 laps on the 2.5-mile oval.
Alex Tagliani (228.327) remained strong in the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, while Scott Dixon in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car was third (228.181) on the speed chart. Ryan Briscoe, driving the No. 6 IZOD Team Penske car, was fourth (228.029) and Bertrand Baguette cracked the top five (228.028) in the No. 30 RACB/Aspria Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Special.
Eight different teams were represented in the top 10 of the speed chart, and the field was separated by 1.0729 seconds.
Something broke on the rear suspension, and when that happens, you're just a passenger.
The top 24 spots in the 33-car field will be available through traditional four-lap attempts from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Each car will have up to three attempts, and bumping begins when the 24 spots are filled. The times of the top nine drivers from this first segment of qualifying will be erased at 4 p.m., with all of those competitors guaranteed to start no worse than ninth.
From 4:30-6 p.m. the "Fast Nine" will be required to make at least one four-lap qualifying attempt and additional/optional attempts are available if time permits. Each driver's best run will set their position on the starting grid.
Indy qualifications also have an impact on the championship, with 15 points awarded to the pole sitter through three points for starting 25th-33rd. Only the PEAK Performance Pole Award winner in the other 16 IZOD IndyCar Series races receives the bonus (one point).
Castroneves won the PEAK Performance Pole Award presented by AutoZone in 2010 with a four-lap average speed of 227.970 mph. Sebastian Saavedra (223.634) was the slowest of the 33 starters, and the field average was 224.974.
Positions 25-33 are available on Armed Forces Day/Bump Day (May 22). Bumping begins once 33 cars have qualified.
FAST FRIDAY NOTEBOOK:
Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, INDYCAR medical director: Simona de Silvestro was evaluated this morning for the second-degree burns to her right hand and superficial burns to her left hand and has not been cleared to drive. Further updates on her condition and driving status will be provided when available.
2010 Indianapolis 500 Chase Rookie of the Year Simona De Silvestro talked today about the crash Thursday in which she suffered second-degree burns to her right hand and superficial burns to her left hand. She has not been cleared to drive and will be re-evaluated Saturday by INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Michael Olinger.
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: "Something broke on the rear suspension, and when that happens, you're just a passenger. You can't really do anything about it, especially when you're going about 220 mph. I hit the wall and it took forever to land, it seemed, and then it started getting pretty hot out there (because of flames). It was pretty shocking, actually, especially to be on fire. It's kind of weird because the fuel is splashing on you and you don't really know what to do. A lot of things go through your head, but you want to get out of the car as quickly as possible. Everyone is working hard to get me back in the car, and I think it's important for me to get back in the car quickly. It just shows how safe the car is. I don't think a crash like that in any other car I would be standing here. When I got out of the car, I couldn't believe it because it was so crazy being along for the ride and being on fire - again. I was pretty shocked, but it was nice to be standing. I don't think I was a good patient in the infield medical center because I was in a lot of pain and I was screaming for water to cool my hands down. They took good care of me and then we went to the hospital, where they said it was second-degree burns. We took the bandages off (this morning) and they were really blistered, and tonight we're going to check them again and see what they say. They don't look pretty, so I don't want to look. I can say I'm pretty lucky to be here. It is my goal to get back in the car as quickly as I can. It will be (INDYCAR's medical team) decision and also mine because it's pretty shocking. I can move my hands, but it is pretty tight because it pulls the skin. We'll get some gloves that can fit."
INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE QUOTES:
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): "I think the Sprott team made a lot of good gains today. When we first went out, the temperatures were obviously a lot hotter than they had been in all the running we had done. As a result of that, the car was quite lively this morning. We had a couple of runs where we had a very loose race car, but that's all part of the Indy education and learning curve, having some proper loose runs and learning how to deal with those. We came in and made a series of changes, and every single one of them was pointing the car in a better direction. And at the end, there we went out around 4 o'clock and made a couple of new tire runs still not in full qualifying trim and set some very competitive times in very clean air. We're very happy with the gains we made, not only overnight from yesterday but also during the day. We're now just looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings. We parked it a bit early because we had no interest in competing in the "tow Olympics" and going for those gigantic laps. We were focused on running by ourselves today. We're looking forward to qualifying. Hopefully we can be a first day qualifier and be able to breathe a little bit easier on Sunday. The four-lap qualifying format is obviously something new for me on ovals because in Indy Lights it was only a two-lap average. In these cars, especially here - although I haven't qualified on any other oval in these cars - the car changes a lot over four laps. Inside the car, we have a lot of tools that we can use to tune the car, so, for me, part of today was getting a feel for the car over the course of four laps and what adjustments I can make to fix a problem. That was a good experience for me to have. I learned a lot, but I'm certainly not at the level of these experienced guys who know almost before they get to the corner what they're going to need to do and can adjust the car two or three times a lap. We're chipping away at it bit by bit, so I'm looking forward to making that first attempt."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "We worked a lot on race setup, and we concentrated the last few hours today on speed. I think we're looking good for tomorrow, and you should see the usual suspects coming to the top soon."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "The Target car was OK today. This morning we worked on race setup and then spent the afternoon working on our qualifying setup. We still have some more trimming out to do, and I think we can work a bit more on the balance of the car."
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 Herbalife Schmidt Pelfrey Racing): "I'm very happy with the Herbalife car. The balance is great, and I'm comfortable. I'm ready to let it rip tomorrow and see what we have. It's going to be competitive, but it's nice to know it looks like we'll be competitive." (About the importance of the qualifying draw): "It just depends on what the weather does. Your draw is your draw. You just get on with it."
ED CARPENTER (No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing): "Overall, today was another productive day for us. We went in to Fast Friday with a game plan, and we stuck to it. We were able to do some mock qualifying runs early this afternoon and also worked on race setup a bit this evening. The car felt good out there; it's pretty consistent. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the Dollar General machine can do tomorrow in qualifying."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central): "It was a pretty good day for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing. We started practice today with race setup and made some improvements. We also worked on our qualifying setup; I found out we were running the same trim as Scott Dixon, so that made me feel a little better. We still have some work to do to make the No. 38 Service Central car more comfortable. It's going to be hard to make it in the top nine tomorrow, but I'm confident we'll have a fast car."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen): "Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing had a good day. We made a lot of progress, mechanically and aero-wise. We're in really good shape for qualifications tomorrow. The No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen car is fast."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers &Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "I think we did pretty well today. The car seems to be pretty quick. Against our competition, we're right there. We're in the top cars. It's going to be tight. It's going to be a lot tighter than I was expecting. There are a lot of good cars. I've seen some amazing speed from the Rahal car (Bertrand Begue), Dario (Franchitti) is strong, (Scott) Dixon is strong and obviously the Penske cars are really strong as well. So, if we make it in the 'Fast Nine' again, it would be an amazing accomplishment because I think the field is a lot tighter this year than we've seen it in the past. And if we come up the car that gives us the chance to make a run at the pole then we'll throw everything we have at it and see what we come out with. I'm fairly pleased with our week, the boys did a great job, the engineer group that we have is great. Hopefully we can make it happen."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom): "We made some improvements with the Venom car today, and now we're trying to see what we can get with what we have. I don't think we have the quickest car, so we're having to make it a bit harder to drive in order to go fast. But whatever it takes."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co A.J. Foyt Racing): "We feel good about the car. It's just hard to really know where we are at. But I think if we do our jobs like we have been doing, it's a first-day qualifier no problem, and then we can work on race setups on Sunday. Tonight is when we massage the car, and we'll get some speed out of that. It will come down to getting the best out of the time when we are out qualifying tomorrow. It's that close to doing very good, and it's going to come down to taking 100 percent out of the situation, weather and our place in the qualifying line. We're close enough that we are going to be able to play with these things, so I'm happy."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers &Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "Our team continues to rise every weekend. When we are in the window when we roll off the truck, we have a great group of people who make it easy to fine-tune the car. Being a one-car team, when we are off the window, it's not easy, but this week, the car has been strong. With a few aerodynamic changes from last year, the car has been very consistent. It's been nice just to fine-tune and not reinvent the wheel on our setup. I need to take my hat off to the guys. They have been very meticulous in preparing the car and on a track with high speed like this, it's crucial. As a driver, you need to be comfortable in the car, and you need to drive it well, but you need to have the car, but if you don't there's nothing you can do." (Do you have any more left in your car?) "We have a couple of things left. I think we were conservative this afternoon. We made some changes on the car without pushing the limits aerodynamically. I think it's going be very difficult to do a 228.3 (mph), but it will have to be up there for a one lap go. It's all about how consistent you can be and what's your draw. We feel that we are strong, but on the charts, there are a lot of cars that are strong. It's very difficult to have a good read. We ran very few laps this week, and we tried to run by ourselves to evaluate the right gearing and right downforce and make the right call on ride heights and all of that. I think we can go to bed tonight feeling we have a strong car, but the Ganassis and Penskes look tough. Hopefully when we pull everything out that we think we can, we'll be right there with them."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske): "Anything is possible. Right now Shell V-Power is working really well in not only the race setup but also the qualifying setup. Qualifying tomorrow will be very tight. I can see that my teammates will be strong ones, and there are other guys doing fast times out there, too. It will be interesting to see what happens in the Fast Nine. I think we will see speeds in the 228 range tomorrow. It is going to be similar weather as today, but if it is a little bit humid, we may lose a little bit of power. I think everybody has something more. Today was a fast Friday. Everybody started laying out the wings and going fast. I'm very happy with my boys with the Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra car. It was very smooth, especially in the race trim, so I was very happy. We did a lot of laps today, and I wanted to make sure I was happy with the race car. It will probably be the last chance before we go into the race to run in those kinds of conditions. All of my boys were on the same page. As soon as we felt happy with the race trim, race setup, we decided to change and go for it. We had some moments out there. I've got to keep moving forward and have a good lap out there tomorrow and have a good day for the entire Team Penske." (What would it mean to be the first person to win pole three years in a row?): "Just starting pole position would mean a lot. This place is fantastic. It's awesome and tough. It would be great. Records are made to be broke, so I'm not going to focus on that. I'm going to focus on what I need to make it work so we can put the Shell V-Power in the number one spot."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing): "We started with the same car (setup) we had yesterday, but for some reason the car is a little bit loose today. We tried to improve it and didn't improve much, so in the afternoon we went to a different setup. It's still not feeling right, so we have to analyze the data and analyze the car to see if we can improve tomorrow."
PIPPA MANN (No. 36 Conquest Racing): "One of the things everybody has been telling me about Indy since I first got here is how much the track can change. We were in a fairly good position midway through the afternoon and came back to the garage. Toward the end of the session, we went back out and picked up one or two issues, which we then had to try and sort out. One or two issues when you're running that much negative rear wing is not necessarily the best preparation we could have this close to qualifying. However, on our very last run we ran our best four-lap stint - all in clean air. We had a bit of a big drop-off on the last lap, but we got three really good ones in altogether. It's going to be so close tomorrow and the same on Sunday. We're really hoping for a good qualifying draw, and this evening before we go home we're certainly going to be having a good look through the data to see where we think we actually are."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Team Window World): "It was a pretty productive day for Team Window World. We made a plan and stuck to it. We wanted to try some different things, so we did that first on used tires this morning. We feel really good about our last run. The car responds really well. I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to qualifying tomorrow. I don't have any grand expectations, but I think in the big picture, we can get our goal accomplished—getting in the race the first day - and I think everything will go smoothly."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 34 Conquest Racing): "It was a very positive day for the No. 34 Conquest Racing car; I think the most productive so far. We did amazing progress from where we ended up yesterday. Unfortunately, we seemed to have a mechanical failure at the end of the day, and we couldn't get the speed we wanted from it. But we're very positive on finding it and making it work for tomorrow. It's good to have a teammate this year. It's good to work with someone else and share information. It's helped us a lot. Qualifying is going to be very tight. Compared to last year, the competition is a lot harder. It's going to be twice as hard to get in. The speeds are getting very close to each other, and it's going to be very interesting. It's perfect for the 100th anniversary."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): "The Telemundo team definitely made progress today and were able to trim the car. There was a question mark on how the car was going to feel when it was hot like it was. I'm not going to lie: We had to work at it because we had not had these temperatures all week. The car was great in cold temperatures, but not as much in hot, but by the end of the day, it was really good, really nice. I got a little bit of a tow again. But we have two cars, with James, we should be in decent shape tomorrow. We should make the show. Top nine, who knows? But we should be able to make the show if everything goes as we want."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Z-Line Designs/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "It was a busy day. We've gone through a lot of stuff. The key now is trying to study all of that data and see what we can learn from it. We had a couple of different things. The Z-Line Designs car feels pretty good, and we did a reasonable time, but obviously tomorrow is going to be the big day. We'll see what people really have, so we will just have to wait and see."
PAUL TRACY (No. 23 WIX Filters/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "Overall, I think we are in pretty good shape in terms of speed by ourselves. We struggled a little bit with the rear of the car at the beginning of the day. We changed the setup on the car and went back out, and it was much better. We worked on the car a little bit and made some changes to try to improve the balance of the car and put a sticker set of Firestone tires on at about three o'clock in the afternoon and ran a 225.996 mph, which was pretty good by ourselves. We came back after that to check things over and take a look at it. We went back out with a race setup on and I had a very, very small brush with the wall, and we've just decided to look at it over night and we will go at it tomorrow to see where we are at. In terms of speed by ourselves, I think we are OK. We're not great, but we are definitely anywhere from 10th- to about 16th-quickest by ourselves."
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 24 Team Ipiranga/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "We did many, many laps trying to work on the car. We had some things that we were trying to find, and we came back to the garage to improve and to make a big change. We couldn't really find what we wanted, so I'm a little bit disappointed, but we will see. I think that my teammates did a good job, and we'll see what they did and hopefully for qualifying we will be faster."
DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 11 HP/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "I think we are good. We have four cars that went four completely different directions just because we were a little bit stagnant, so to speak. We were just kind of stuck on the speeds that we were stuck on, so all four drivers went completely different directions with pretty major changes and we all found speed. Now we just have to evaluate it and see which package is the best. I think Paul has a real good package, and I felt like mine was pretty fast. I could run a high (2)25 on my own. Right now, we have to gamble around. Tomorrow's qualifying, man, but I feel confident."
DAN WHELDON (No. 98 William Rast-Curb/Big Machine): "Today the car was pretty good. We actually focused solely on the qualifying trim, and it seemed very well balanced. We continued to work hard throughout the day, and again the boys have done an incredible job giving me a car that I feel comfortable in and is obviously very quick, which is the most important thing leading into qualifying. For our race situation, I feel we are in a good spot, as well. I would like to work more on that on Sunday, but we feel certain that the William Rast car can contend for the top nine tomorrow. From that point on, you never know. I am very, very pleased with everyone at Bryan Herta Autosport and am expecting a good day tomorrow."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "Today was the absolute perfect day to drive a race car at Indianapolis. There was no wind, good temperature, and it was great to drive the Verizon car today. We had a very productive day. We logged plenty of miles, did a lot of race work and we also have a pretty good read on how the car will be in qualifying. Having said that, I'm sure the conditions during qualifying tomorrow will be much different. We are in good shape going into tomorrow, and I am looking forward to it."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 IZOD Team Penske): "Today was a good day for the No. 6 IZOD Team Penske crew. We completed a lot of laps. We mostly ran race setups, which we needed after all the time we lost earlier in the week. We trimmed out the car at the end of the day and got good speed out of the car, but we haven't found the limit yet. I'm happy where we finished the day, and we're excited about tomorrow. It should be a really good day on Saturday for Team Penske."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): "We're struggling to find the speed right now with the DHL/Sun Drop car. But, Marco and I both had promising runs at the end of the day - I didn't get a tow -- so hopefully that will roll over into tomorrow. Qualifying will be interesting. We don't want qualifying weekend to be interesting, but it will be interesting for us."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Hire Heroes USA/7-Eleven/Dr Pepper): "The Hire Heroes car feels alright; there's just no speed in it right now. Hopefully, we'll get a direction tonight, go there tomorrow and see if it's any better. As the day has gone on, we've lost ground -- even though we've trimmed out -- so that doesn't really make sense. We'll have a look at the data tonight and see what we find."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy): "We are a little concerned with the speed right now. But at the end of the day, it showed us what we shouldn't do and sometimes that can be better for you. We aren't the fastest car, but the GoDaddy.com car is fast, and we are ready for qualifying tomorrow."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus):"It was another productive test day. We tried many things with the race setup and in qualifying trim. It was good because we tried a lot of things that helped me understand the bigger picture. We still have a few things to do before qualifying, but today was a valuable day."
TONY KANAAN (No. #82 GEICO - KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "We're still working hard in order to get the car where we want it to be but it's not been easy. There are a lot of fast cars out there but there are also a lot of people getting tows, so the truth will only come out tomorrow during qualifying when the each driver it's taking their laps by themselves. I think it's going to be hard to qualify tomorrow, let's see."
E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "It was another pretty good testing day…great weather. We were once again able to complete our program for the day. We went out tried some different qualifying setups and also worked on our race trim. I think little by little we are making a stronger car, but we still have a lot of work to do to analyze all the data we collected. Qualifying is tomorrow and we believe we have a lot of the answers. We just need to put them all together for qualifying and then we will focus on reviewing the data for the race trim."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 07 Team REDLINE Xtreme - Circle K): "It has been a fairly productive day. We started practice on race setup, which I feel fairly happy with. Later this afternoon we worked on our qualifying setup and found some time to mimic a qualifying run, but unfortunately we still need to find more speed. I will look over the data tonight with my engineers and hopefully we will improve the speed of the Team REDLINE Xtreme car for qualifying tomorrow."
SAM SCHMIDT (Owner, Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "I feel really good. I'm a little disappointed we got taken out by Helio again, with a little bit of a tow, and missed out on some money tonight. But I also feel confident about our decision not to go out there between 5 (p.m.) and 6 (p.m.) and to keep everything intact for tomorrow and keep our head down. I don't think Penske has quite shown all their stuff yet. Penske and Ganassi will be very strong tomorrow. Our drivers have done really well all week, and the mechanics have done a great job adapting to each other this week."