Rapid rookie Munoz tops practice for Indianpolis 500 on day six

Tomorrow is Fast Friday!

Rapid rookie Munoz tops practice for Indianpolis 500 on day six

INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, May 16, 2013) - Rookie Carlos Munoz topped the speed chart for the second time during the month of May as team's geared up for "Fast Friday" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Carlos Munoz, Andretti Autosport Chevrolet
Carlos Munoz, Andretti Autosport Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

Munoz, the Firestone Indy Lights point leader, set the fastest lap of the month, so far, with a lap of 225.163 mph (39.9711 seconds) in the No. 26 Unistraw Chevrolet. The lap topped the previous best of the month by Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti (225.100 mph).

Andretti, driving the No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet, was third on the day (224.882 mph) as Andretti Autosport swept the top three. Reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay was second (225.006) in the No. 1 DHL car.

Day 6 of on-track activity also featured 33 drivers for the first time as 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Lazier made his maiden appearance in the No. 91 Lazier Partners Racing car. He contributed three install laps to the 2,227 total logged during the humid six-hour session. Lazier will participate in a refresher course before the track opens for practice at noon (ET) May 17.

Rookie Conor Daly brought out the yellow flag for the first incident of the month when the No. 41 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing made contact with the SAFER Barrier exiting Turn 1 midway through the session. He was checked at the infield care center and cleared to drive.

Drivers will get a boost for the seventh day of practice for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race as they transition from race setup evaluation to mostly qualifying simulations.

As with the 2012 race, the boost level will be upped from 130 kPa to 140 kPa for "Fast Friday" as drivers/teams focus on qualifying setups and the two days of qualifications. The boost level to the 2.2-liter, turbocharged V-6 engines will return to 130 kPa for the one-hour final practice May 24 and Race Day on May 26.


SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "I'm very happy with the race car. I think we're really close to where we want to be. I got to run with Dario (Franchitti) and Scott (Dixon), which was really helpful in traffic. They helped me to see what the car might be like in the race. It's always difficult to predict what will happen when we're in the race, but I'm confident. The HP car is pretty fast I think. We just need to keep chipping away." (About receiving advice from JR Hildebrand about throwing first pitch at Milwaukee Brewers' game Monday, May 20): "I'm looking forward to the baseball game in Milwaukee because I've never been to a baseball game. It's going to be a lot of fun to go, and Milwaukee is a great city, too. It'll be great to get there before we race at the Milwaukee IndyFest. JR was a great coach, and he gave me a ton of great tips. Honestly, I think it's a game I could get addicted to. Big thanks to JR for helping and making sure I don't embarrass myself when I throw out the first pitch at the Brewers game."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Chevrolet Racing): "It was another pretty productive day. We learned some more things for the race. The last two days we have done some positive things as well as negative ones. And you do learn from the things that don't work. I think we are zeroing in on things right now. We are getting closer on the setup we like. I'm not sure it's where we need to be because some of these guys are very quick. There are times that I think we are very good and then other times I am worried. I think that really shows the depth of the field. It's very competitive. I do feel better with each day right now. The forecast was for rain today, but we dodged it. Conditions were pretty good today. Friday's forecast doesn't look good again. But who knows about the weather here."

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 98 Team Barracuda-BHA Honda): "Early on today, we felt the Barracuda Racing car was OK. Later in the day, I think we took a big break and tried something pretty risky, and unfortunately it didn't work. It's not a big deal, though. We're just going to reset everything and go back tomorrow to where we know the car has been good in traffic. We'll also start working a bit more with a qualifying mindset because we're going to run the boost at 1.4 since it's Fast Friday. It's going to be a totally different approach, but overall we know we need to make some improvements on our race car. We're struggling a bit compared to last year, but we pulled through it in 2012, and the car was kind of a bullet then, so I'm sure the Barracuda Racing boys are going to do the same again this year. We should be in great shape."

JAMES JAKES (No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Honda): "We made some great steps today with the Acorn Stairlifts car. To be honest, it's been going pretty well all week. We are just working with the plan that we have had all week, trying not to concentrate too much on the times on the tow reports but getting the car good in traffic and then looking for single-lap pace with no one else out there. The guys did a great job today. They have had a long few days, so it's nice to get done early so they can get home, get some rest and get ready for a big weekend."

AJ ALLMENDINGER (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet): "The IZOD Chevrolet ended up 11th today in terms of speed, but I feel like we are gaining on the setup. I was able to gain more experience in race traffic, which you can never get enough of. The car is good, and I'm interested to see how the car will handle with the extra boost of power we get tomorrow. Another day of experience behind the wheel, and we're learning more and more."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet): "Another day of trying to find something new in the Shell Pennzoil Chevrolet. We are really digging, and the guys have done a great job so far finding the small bits here and there. Now we turn all of our attention tomorrow to qualifying and seeing what kind of speed we can find."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): "Today was another really good day. We spent a fair amount of time working on race stuff. We did a couple of solid, full-tank, new-tire runs in traffic. The car feels really stable. I think we made progress and found a couple of things today that some of my teammates run and liked, and I agree with them. So we went in that direction, as well. I think we're in really good shape for next Sunday. Now our focus kind of shifts to qualifying on Saturday. Obviously, with Fast Friday tomorrow, we'll get a little more boost. As race car drivers, we always like to go faster, and I think we have a good shot with the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car as we increase that boost. So we're going to trim out the car and see what we can get out of it."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was great to be able to get Verizon Chevrolet on track today as we were planning for rain. We are still working our way through our list; it is a process of continual adaptation to the conditions. I feel as though we did find something today that will help us during the race. Looking at the times, you can tell it is going to be tough."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 8 NTT DATA Honda): "We didn't get to do too many laps today as we kind of got stuck in the garage this afternoon with some work that the guys had to do on the car. So we probably didn't get to do as many long runs as we wanted to do, but the car felt good at the end of the day. We did a single long-run, where we ran with Scott (Dixon) and Dario (Franchitti) a bit, and it was pretty strong. It was pretty strong, so that's good. We're looking forward to some more race preparation on Bump Day."

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 21 Sarah Fisher Hartman/Century 21 Honda): "I thought we had a good day today. We've had good days pretty much all week, so that is positive. We worked on our race setup today, which is great because we've been waiting to do that all week. And now tomorrow we get to work on qualifying, so I think we're looking really positive headed into the weekend. We'll be looking to do well in qualifying, but more importantly we'll be looking to do well next weekend. I like Fast Friday because it's the best indicator as to how qualifying will go. You're really going to see the highest speeds of the weekend tomorrow other than Saturday, and you'll get a clearer idea of where everyone is at, so that's always good to see after a long week of testing."

E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA Citgo Chevrolet): "The team has been consistently at the top of the charts. Carlos (Munoz) was up there today. Ryan (Hunter-Reay) was really fast yesterday. Marco (Andretti) and James (Hinchcliffe) have been at the top of the charts, and that's good. It shows that we are a strong team. So far, we've been working on the racecraft. I'm sure you've seen us out there passing each other and trying different things with the cars. This is what a big team and a team that has plenty of resources is able to do. First and foremost, it's been a very refreshing season for me. It's been a while since I have been able to feel I have a team fully behind me. It is what I have been feeling so far with these guys (at Andretti Autosport). Obviously, it's been a little of a learning curve. Everyone on my crew is new to the team, with the exception of maybe two or three guys. Every beginning is always difficult, but it's been nice. We've had the speed in every race. Talking more specifically about the Indy 500, about this special month for us, just knowing that I have a team and a car that is always fast is always nice. That gives us the liberty to go out and try different things in the car, and taking the chance that it might work or not but knowing that you can always go back to the roots and still have a good baseline." (How do you feel you will be when you start focusing on qualifying setup?): "I believe that every race car has some fundamentals. I believe the Andretti grip is a fundamental that they have developed that is really good. And then all you have to do is trim the car. Obviously, you smoothly adjust the car for qualifying, but I think we have what we need to find that grip when we really need it in qualifying with very little downforce."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): "We worked at it again today - not even sure what day it is anymore, really - we just keep working on the cars and inching in on where we need to be with limited practice days left. I think we'll see some surprises in qualifying. We don't really know what to expect. We just need to concentrate on our program and being quick on Race Day. We need to peak in the race and not in qualifying. Hopefully we do well in qualifying, but we need to be able to make sure that we have the race sorted, too."

TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 55 Lucas Oil/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "I'm so glad we got a lot of time on the track today since we thought it was going to rain and didn't think we'd be able to do much. I'm really starting to feel more comfortable out there and can't wait to get back out there again. I think we're in good shape at this point now that practice days are winding down before Pole Day."

SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KVRT Chevrolet): "I think it was a pretty good day. We struggled a little bit in the beginning of the day but were able to figure it out. We were also able to run a little in traffic, and that was pretty fun. I think we have a pretty strong car in traffic. Now tomorrow we will have to see how it goes with some qualifying stuff, but I think today was a really good day and the first time I was pretty happy at the end of the day, so it's a good thing."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Midas/Big O Tires Honda): "I think today went pretty good. We found a lot of things to make our car better. For our qualifying setup, I feel really good. The Midas/Big O Tires car was second of the Honda's on the no-tow report. We still have to work on the race setup; we have to make it better. We'll see what Fast Friday brings. I know there is still some stuff in the bag. We never really got a tow lap, though. Our fastest lap was by ourselves, so I don't feel too bad about that. It doesn't look good if you just look at the time sheets without taking that into consideration, but everything is all right."

MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (No. 17 Office Depot Honda): "We felt like we were making big progress on the Office Depot car, especially by ourselves. We were much happier as the day was going on, but we tried to run in traffic, and we just couldn't. We have a lot of work to do to run in traffic."

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 22 Panther DRR Chevrolet): "Everything is going to plan, so I am happy to be boring in this way! It's all been good, and we're not where we want to be yet, but we're definitely getting closer and closer. Tomorrow is Fast Friday. We're doing what we have to do, so I'm happy."

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Unistraw Chevrolet): "The fastest lap was a tow, an unbelievable tow. Yesterday, I was thanking Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) and all the other drivers for the tow, and today I am thanking him (E.J. Viso) and Ryan (Hunter-Reay). But yeah, this last run I felt really comfortable each time I ran behind people in racing conditions. Each time I felt more comfortable. We are improving the car from the beginning until now, and I think right now we are really strong. We have a real strong car every time we test, and we can go back and make sure we have a pretty competitive car. But tomorrow and Saturday is another thing entirely. We will have to prepare for qualifying." (How do you feel about tomorrow when you will gain 40-50 extra horsepower?): "I'm excited to feel more speed again. I'm comfortable and think we'll have a great car, a really secure car. But I will tell you tomorrow how I feel after my first run how it feels to have this boost."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "We didn't have the day we would have hoped to today. We started to take some of the downforce of out the car, which is usual for qualifying. The tough thing is that the track conditions at Indianapolis were again different today, which makes things challenging. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we're focused 100 percent on qualifying the car. The boost levels in the Honda engine will be turned up over the next two days in preparation for qualifying. I think we'll have a closer idea of where we are in tomorrow's practice session."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "Today was a decent day. We kept it pretty simple overall. We did one qualifying simulation run and then made some changes with the dampers in the car. We also worked on some mechanical things, and it was one of our better days because we just methodically went about our run plan and didn't run the death out of the car. We just went about our business today and ran with what we had. Looking to qualifying, you'll see the speeds go up anywhere from 2 to 4 miles per hour. How that pans out for us, we will see."

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): "We've been working a lot on the race setup in the National Guard Chevy and feel like we've been making a lot of good changes. We're getting to where we'd ideally like to be for Race Day. We had a big tow lap, but the cars that put in those big laps are usually good cars. But that's not indicative of how fast the car really is or how well it works in traffic; it's just how many cars you can get in front of you to bang it up into sixth gear and put in a big lap. But we feel like we're pretty close on the setup, and we've been circling around trying to get the car to do a couple different things, but we feel strong."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "First, I'm glad Conor (Daly) wasn't hurt. It was horrible to see that he had a big moment today. (How did your day go?): "My day went well because we learned a lot, so again it was productive. There were a couple of things we needed to address, but we learned the car performed well in race trim and qualifying trim, so that was good." (How does Conor get over that accident?): "The important thing is to find out why it happened. To know that is the most important thing, so once he knows that, he should be able to get back in the car, and in a few laps he will be back up to speed."

TOWNSEND BELL (No. 60 Sunoco "Turbo" Panther Racing Chevrolet): "The No. 60 Sunoco 'Turbo' Chevy is awesome. We're really happy with the balance, which means at this point we can think about our qualifying setup and optimization. Our basic foundation is really good, so tomorrow we'll do some qualifying sims and get things tweaked for Saturday. The competition in this series is as strong as I've ever seen it, and while I was commentating on the race in Brazil, I had it in the back of my head that I was going to have to get out here with these guys. I think we're in for an incredible race."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet): "Practice today did not go as smoothly as we hoped. We ended yesterday really happy with the car after struggling for part of the day, so it's was good to end on a positive note. We were looking forward to coming into today and trying a few things. Earlier in the day, we accomplished a few useful things. We had another long run that, in all honesty, proved that we have a slow car even if the handling wasn't terrible. But late in the day, getting ready for our second long run, we scared ourselves with something. I'm not sure what it was, but there was definitely something amiss on the car because I couldn't even run a corner flat by myself in clean air, never mind a full lap or with traffic in the mix. Sometimes that happens. We'll take the car back and have a proper look at it getting ready for Fast Friday. I'm sure whatever the culprit is, we'll diagnose it and fix it. That's what this team does. So we'll be back at it tomorrow. Not an ideal way to end today, unfortunately, losing a bit of running in the pack and ending with a sour taste in our mouth. Luckily there are no points or prize money for today, so we'll just keep our heads down and get back on track tomorrow."

CONOR DALY (No. 41 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "These guys work so hard. I'm incredibly thankful for the continued opportunity that I have. I'm just glad that the car wasn't as damaged as it might have looked flying through the air. I tried to save it, and I would have saved it if we had about another 100 yards wider. But I know they're going to work hard and get it all prepared, and as long as we can get out tomorrow and shake it down and make sure she's pulling in the right direction, I think we'll be fine. I think it should be good."


Rookie Carlos Munoz back on top at Indy 500 practice

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