The Month of May officially got underway today, as the Verizon IndyCar Series took to the IMS road course for practice in preparation for Saturday’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis race. The fifth race of the 2016 season is now in it’s third year of existence, and features plenty of exciting action for fans to see from many different angles. The threat of rain was there, but it was dry for nearly the entire day. The Indy Lights drivers played in the water during their final practice session, but that was the only one all day that saw wet conditions.
Scott Dixon was fastest on Thursday, edging out Team Penske drivers Will Power and Simon Pagenaud. Dixon’s best time was a lap at 1:09.8281 seconds. Graham Rahal was the fastest Honda driver in fourth, and Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top five. All 25 cars participated on Thursday, completing a total of 1,237 laps around the 2.439-mile road course. James Hinchcliffe missed out on the first practice session, but managed to log 25 laps in the afternoon, and was 8th on the speed chart.
It was the first day of action in 2016 for drivers JR Hildebrand, Gabby Chaves, Alex Tagliani, and Matt Brabham. Hildebrand is with Ed Carpenter Racing this month, and Chaves is filling in the No. 19 car for Dale Coyne Racing in both races. Tagliani is running with Foyt, and Brabham is with KV Racing. Spencer Pigot is also in this race, and was the fastest Rookie driver on Thursday.
Thursday Combined Practice Results
Dixon believes the faster cars will show their speed tomorrow. “We rolled off not too bad. We did the usual thing where we try a few different things and circle back to where we started. That’s how the afternoon at least ended. I don’t think you get a really good gist on speeds until tomorrow on most of the field. The car felt decent. We’ll take what we learned today and hopefully tomorrow should be strong. It’s definitely going to be very tight.”
The Andretti Autosport drivers are still trying to get over the hump this season. Ryan Hunter-Reay was the fastest of the group on Thursday, but they have some work to do before this weekend.
There will be a 45-minute practice session tomorrow at 11 AM, followed by qualifying for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, which begins at 3 PM. IndyCar will stream the qualifying live on their YouTube channel.
Juan Montoya: “The Verizon Chevrolet was good all day. We made progress in some areas. We feel like everything is setting up the way we want right now. We beat the rain this afternoon, which is helpful. Hopefully qualifying will go well tomorrow and set us up for a good race.”
Helio Castroneves: “First thing, it’s great to have hum by Verizon on board for the race. It’s always nice to have something a little different. They’re different colors from what we normally run. Also, it’s great to be in Indianapolis. The hum Chevy was good today. We were able to learn some things and we’re looking forward to qualifying tomorrow.”
Max Chilton: “In the first session this morning we worked on some front wing changes and some rear spring adjustments. We had some problems with the overall balance of the car which slowed us down a bit as well. The field is just so tight. Two-tenths of a second can really move you up or down the order a significant amount. We have a bit of work to do but I’m confident the Gallagher team will make the right adjustments for tomorrow.”
Scott Dixon: “It was a really good day for Team Target and the No. 9 car guys. I flat-spotted a tire in the first practice session and that kind of put us behind a bit. But we had good pace in the second session and are off to a good start this weekend. The ultimate goal everyone is after this month is to sweep the Grand Prix and the 500 and we’re working hard on starting off in the best position possible.”
Tony Kanaan: “Obviously not the way we wanted to start our month of May. We’re still just working on the car and trying to get it where it needs to be for Saturday. We spent a lot of that second session making changes and we weren’t able to get as many laps as we would’ve liked. We still have the first practice session tomorrow morning to make sure everything is in place and ready to go for qualifying. Today wasn’t a great one for the No. 10 NTT Group Chevrolet, but there’s always tomorrow to turn it around.”
Sebastien Bourdais: “It was an interesting day for the Team EUROPA – KVSH Racing team. We didn’t start the day where we wanted. The car was a little off, which was surprising given our history here and coming off Barber where the car was blindingly fast. I am not sure what really happened, but we fought our way through it. The guys did a good job, the Chevy power was there and things worked out. We’ll just have to see what happens tomorrow.”
Will Power: “It’s a track I really enjoy because it’s technical. It’s very much like a European track. You can drive the car in a different way that you can’t drive it on any other circuit. It’s definitely one of my favorites. It’s a lot of fun. I think it races well, too. With the long straights and everything, creates good racing. Hopefully we can see a lot of passing in the race. But if I’m in front, hopefully not.”
Takuma Sato: “Bit of a tough day but it was an interesting day, we went through quite a few test items. We split the menu items up among the three cars and I think we found some positives. The tires are good for just the first few laps, so I wasn’t able to do a quick lap but in the end we found some direction. The weather helped by staying dry today. Hopefully tomorrow we will be moving up the chart!”
Graham Rahal: “I think we are okay in terms of performance. We took a big swing there and made a big change for Practice 2. It was one of those things that would either go our way or not and I think it hurt us a bit so we will go back on that change for tomorrow. Spencer (Pigot) had some good finds so we will work with that. Overall we are competitive but I have been fighting a pretty bad cold so it beat me up a little today. We ran a lot of laps this afternoon and were pounding around so I definitely got a workout in so I will sleep well tonight, that’s for sure. I think we learned some stuff there, we definitely learned the wrong way to go. We’re going to make some changes and get this Steak ‘n Shake machine back up front.”
Spencer Pigot: “It’s great to be back in the car, I have been waiting a while. We had a really good day today. We kept improving, the car is getting better and better and I am getting comfortable in it again. It’s cool to be driving an Indy car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s so much quicker than what I am used to driving here which makes it a lot more fun. I’m really enjoying it. The straight line speed here is higher than I have ever experienced, and you are braking all the way down to really slow corners. It’s a unique track.”
Conor Daly: “It was my first time here on the Grand Prix track. It’s a cool place, such a nice circuit but you wouldn’t expect anything less from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I think we had a really productive day. We’re certainly further up the grid in practice than we have been. We’re inching closer, it might take a while but we’re getting there. We’re going to keep working on the car. There’s a lot to be done but I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made today.”
Gabby Chaves: “It feels great to get back in the car. It’s been a long time out of the race car so I’m really working hard to make myself the best I can be every lap out there, so then I can give the best feedback and we can improve the car as well. It’s a process, we’re doing it together. I’m pretty pleased, we’re definitely not far off. I know there are a few things here and there that we can improve and that’s what we’re here to do. If you can’t start racing at the beginning of the season, the month of May is certainly the time to do it!”
Simon Pagenaud: “The Menards Chevrolet was very strong today and I feel very proud to be in it for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indy. I was concerned with the weather that we might not be able to get the second practice in, but I’m glad the rain held off. We’re where we want to be and we feel strong going into qualifying. So, I’m pretty happy with where we ended today.”
Carlos Munoz: “We didn’t run in Practice 2 because of mechanical issues. We still don’t know yet what happened really. Practice 1 was kind of OK, we’ll see tomorrow. The goal today was to do the miles to change the engine in the hhgregg car. We’ll see tomorrow with the new engine how it goes.”
Marco Andretti: “We just lost the balance from this morning. This morning the Snapple car was behaving well, this afternoon we had a couple problems every corner – understeer, snap loose and just trying to combat one of them. We don’t know which one to fix first. We lost the car in Practice 2, Practice 1 the car was good so just trying to figure that out.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “We started making some gains in the second practice session. Certainly a lot better here than we were last year, so we need to find two-tenths of a second to put us in the mix for the (Firestone) Fast Six. Hopefully we’ll put our heads together tonight and find it for the DHL team.”
Alex Tagliani: “We didn’t run much in first practice. We had some telemetry issues but second practice was okay. We tried to catch up and get some laps in to get back into the groove in second practice. I think it was decent, and I think there is more to come. We just need to get the car where it needs to be, and for me to put a good lap in. I think we’ll be all right.”
Jack Hawksworth: “I felt comfortable in the car both sessions. We ran our race set up for both sessions today. Still working some kinks out. We’re still trying to find the right balance on the brakes, but for the car overall, it felt good.”
Charlie Kimball: “Overall we had a pretty good day of practice here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s always nice to be back on track at IMS. We worked on a lot of different things–mechanical platform, aerodynamic settings–and I think we’ve found a window we’re pretty happy with. We were able to run a good lap time; I think we were fourth quick at the time, but then people stacked in there. Some ran new tires while we didn’t, so I think we set ourselves up well as far as tire usage the rest of the weekend. Overall we’re pleased with the progress of the No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet. I think we need to find another few tenths right there to be really happy. But it’s so tight, so competitive, that just another tenth or two would have put us inside the fop-five.”
Alexander Rossi: “It’s the best Friday we’ve had in a while. I think the car started off pretty good – or better than it has off the truck which is encouraging. We found quite a bit there right at the end of the second session so I think we have a good starting point going into tomorrow.”