If there is one Indianapolis 500 practice day that you must attend, it is this one. The practice after qualifications have been completed are some of the most exciting and action-packed on track activity of the month. It lived up to the billing today, as all 33 drivers took to the 2.5 mile over and completed 2,886 laps in just 3 1/2 hours. There were nine drivers that ran more than 100 laps, and ten others completed at least 95 laps. Josef Newgarden recorded the fastest speed, at 227.414 mph. The American who starts in the middle of the front row on Sunday was the only driver to reach the 227 mph barrier.
Teams were focused on three major areas today. The first was getting their car comfortable in traffic, working on the race trim. They also worked on pit stops with the crews, simulating what will be key moments in the 500-mile race. They also worked on fuel mileage, trying to determine how long they could run on a full tank of fuel, in case it turns into a fuel mileage race on Sunday.
Monday Indianapolis 500 Practice Results
Chip Ganassi had to feel slightly better about what he saw today from his drivers. Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon were 2nd and 3rd on the speed chart, with Charlie Kimball in 6th. Sage Karam got his Dreyer & Reinbold/Kingdom Racing machine in the 4th slot, and Pippa Mann was the fastest Honda on the day, ranking 5th fastest in the practice session. Alex Tagliani was able to get his car out and run 10 laps, after the team made repairs following his crash in the exit of Turn 4 yesterday during qualifying. Things weren’t all roses for the AJ Foyt team though, as Jack Hawksworth’s engine went up in smoke with about an hour left in the practice session. Both Tagliani and Hawksworth will be starting on the last row, along with Buddy Lazier.
As expected, the cars were running in large packs, simulating race conditions to work on their car setups. The weather conditions were fairly close to what is being projected on Race Day. The action on the track was intense, and there were a number of close calls. Fortunately there weren’t any incidents, and it appears that this race is going to be wild from start to finish.
The only remaining track time available to the teams before Sunday’s epic race, is a one-hour practice session at 11 AM on Carb Day. There is a strong possibility of rain on Friday though, so we may have seen the last of these cars until Race Day.
Juan Montoya: “It was a good day out there. We tried a lot of different things. The Verizon Chevrolet responded well to some and not to others. The conditions were difficult with the warm temperatures. The crew has done a great job all season and I’m certain they’ll give me a great car on race day.”
Helio Castroneves: “We threw a lot of stuff at the Pennzoil Chevy today. We just tried a lot of combinations with the warm weather to see what would happen in traffic. The guys have worked really hard on this car and we’re excited that race day is getting closer and closer.”
Buddy Lazier: “We’re working on our race trim – the downforce level that we think will be right for the race, gears, etc. The team did a great job and I really liked the car at the end of the practice. We’re a small team with limited resources, so we need to get the most out of what we have, which is exactly what we’re doing. Larry [Curry] and the guys are doing a great job. We have one more day, Carb Day, where we’ll continue our progress with our race car. So far, so good! Our program has come a long way in a week. I’m proud of my team.”
James Hinchcliffe: “It was a productive day here at IMS. This session is very important and I’m really glad we get it. During the week, you try and do some race running but guys are on different programs, it’s a six-hour session, some guys are on track, others are in the garage, so it’s a bit tough to get a really good read on what the race will be like. Today, everybody’s on track running race runs all day. It gives you an opportunity to gather some really valuable data and I think we made some positive changes to the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car. Some negative changes too, so at least we learned a direction and at least we can tune on it a little bit for Carb Day and hopefully be in a good position come Sunday.”
JR Hildebrand: “It was nice to get a good day of practice here. After qualifying, you are totally dedicated to working on the race setup. It is going to be tough. I think it is going to be hotter on race day than it is here today, so that makes it tough to figure out who uses the right downforce and such, at least for the start of the race. That was a lot of what we worked on today. We worked on identifying where we want to be at in the beginning and what we think we can go to under varying circumstances. I feel like we made good progress here and all three of us ECR drivers are starting to hone in on what we need. There is some work still to do to make sure we really optimize what everyone has been up to, but I still feel pretty good about where we ended up today.”
Mikhail Aleshin: “The final day of practice went well. I think we’re going to be pretty fast in the race with the No. 7 DOOM and SMP Racing car. All three cars showed some good pace. It’s not going to be easy for anyone. It looked like many people struggled in traffic, but it’s all about having good sets of tires and good luck.”
Max Chilton: “It was good to get some proper running in today in the Gallagher car after all the antics of the past few days. Yesterday we didn’t get that much running in. Getting back in the car yesterday gave me the confidence to get back up to speed. There was a lot of action out there today and I think it gives you a hint of what the race could be like. We made a few final changes to the car today which I liked. We still have a little to work on for Carb Day but I learned a lot today.”
Scott Dixon: “With about 15 minutes to go it started to get crazy out there with all 33 cars on track. It was very similar to race conditions and things went well for Team Target. It’s still a long way to go but you never know what the weather will bring so you saw a lot of people on track today. You always want a little more practice time and Carb Day will be pretty busy if the weather holds up.”
Tony Kanaan: “I’m glad we were finally able to get the No. 10 NTT DATA Chevrolet up to speed for practice today. I’ve felt really good about my race car since the early sessions and it showed how strong the car is in race setup today on track. We made a lot of progress overnight and it helped put our qualifying run behind us. We’re 100% focused on the race now and just figuring out the best strategy to get back up front.”
Will Power: “The Verizon Chevy ran well today. We feel comfortable going into the race and we’re definitely where we need to be. Very happy with the race work we have put in so far.”
Takuma Sato: “I think it was a productive day. I was able to learn about the car in traffic finally for the first time because we never had the opportunity to run in traffic on practice days because we had so much going on. We tried a few test items, some worked pretty good, some didn’t so I think we found a good baseline for the race. We’ll go through the data over the next couple days because we still need to try a few things on Carb Day, but I think we are in a good position now.”
Graham Rahal: “We started off good and then we made some changes which kind of took us sideways in terms of progress. Then we had to go back to the garage to replace the left rear upright. We went back out and just pounded around made a solid, good improvement. We ran on old tires and again, I could pass everyone I wanted to pass. I’m pretty pleased with the Steak ‘n Shake Honda. If we could go out next Sunday and the conditions were just like this, I’d be a happy man. Legitimately, I felt like there was nobody that I was around that I couldn’t pass and I don’t think I’ve ever said that on the Monday before the race. We’ll probably just polish it (car), put it away and then go for Carb Day and see what we’ve got.”
Spencer Pigot: “I think we made some progress throughout the middle part of the session. Towards the end, we tried a few things that didn’t give us what we were looking for so we will go back and see where we can improve. It was good to finally get some running in the pack. We missed quite a lot of time during the week but I think we can make some changes and have a good car for the race. It’s definitely a lot different in the pack with all the drafting, people passing and checking up and doing all sorts of stuff. Its unpredictable out there but it’s exciting. It’s definitely going to take time to really get the hang of it but I think Carb Day will be another good practice for the race.”
Ed Carpenter: “Practice was pretty good. I’m happy with the way the car feels. The track got pretty hot today, so it was a really good day to do race running because the conditions were challenging. It is really hard to gauge how far above average we are with everyone else because it got so hard for a lot of people. Overall, I think we’re in pretty good shape. The hard part is just going to be managing the early part of the race. It is definitely hard when you are deep in a pack, so I’m just going to have to be smart to get through that early and get up to the front a little cleaner where it gets better with less cars in front of you.”
Josef Newgarden: “With the heat today, conditions were difficult with trying to figure out the car, but the good thing is we dealt with conditions similar to what I think we will see on race day and that’s really all you can hope for with practice. I think everyone was battling with it today, trying to figure it out, but I feel confident. We have a pretty strong package with Chevy and our ECR team and we’ll try and put the Preferred Freezer car in victory lane on Sunday.”
Simon Pagenaud: “I’m happy with the Menards Team Penske Chevrolet. I feel confident in it. Overall, we had a really good run today and we were able to get more, great race preparation in. I think we’re in good shape for this weekend.”
Sage Karam: “Today was a very good day for our Gas Monkey Energy team. It was very busy out there. Due to the weather forecast later in the week, I think everyone was really trying to get their car running well in race trim. And that is what we were trying to do today too. We worked on fuel numbers, pit stops and many things. I think we have a good baseline moving into Carb Day and the race. The car seems pretty good today. We ran in a lot of traffic and I felt the car worked well in these hotter conditions too. Our plan is to take the Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet to the front on Sunday. I have been waiting a long time to get back to the Indy 500. I feel good about the way the day went for us. I can’t wait for the green flag on Sunday.”
Marco Andretti: “We were all over the place setup-wise today. I think we have a direction, but we weren’t able to confirm it so we need to watch how much we read into Carb Day. Looking forward to getting back out there at the end of the week.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “We ran in traffic today and worked on getting out with the field to get a feel for tire life, different downforces. Now that qualifying is over, our focus is shifting to the race car and making sure we are competitive for 500-miles of traffic and track conditions.”
Alex Tagliani: “We made a few runs today, with big thanks to the crew for working hard to put the car back on track today. I’m sure it was a lot of work for them. I guess our Carb Day will become very important to us, and hopefully we have a good race.”
Jack Hawksworth: “We’ve had our fair share of setbacks these past two weeks. This is the cherry on top of the cake. We’ll obviously have to change the engine. I was pretty happy with the car today. Now we need to get miles on the new engine on Carb Day. That’s important to break it in before Sunday. Then we reset and go to the Indy 500.”
Charlie Kimball: “Overall I’m really happy with the No. 42 Tresiba Chevrolet. We did a lot of laps today, I think it was around 100, working on the race car and working in traffic. We’re just figuring out what it’s going to take to get up front and stay up front. Obviously starting 16th we have a few cars to pass before we can get in striking distance. We’ll spend the next few days going over data from all the Chip Ganassi Racing cars trying to figure out how to get the No. 42 a little quicker in traffic and a little quicker out front on its own.’
Matt Brabham: “Today was good out there in the traffic, the car felt really solid. The more experience I get running with people, the better I am going to get. The PIRTEK Team Murray crew had a good solid session working on the race setup getting ready for race day. I felt quite good in the pack, but it’s never perfect. You have to keep working hard at it so when you go out for the race you’re as best prepared as possible, knowing that you’ve worked hard to get to the point you’re at.”
Pippa Mann: “I think anyone who was watching knows that most of the people at this end of the timing charts caught a pretty big tow. I’m no exception. But I think and I hope that we have a top-20 or top-15 race car. That’s the goal. That’s the hope. There were some people that were better than me today, but there were also some people that I was better than, too. Still work to do, but not bad, considering the track temps and what some other people have got too.” (About intensity of practice session): “This was like Carb Day on steroids because we were out there doing it for four hours. It got a bit hairy a few times, actually. Nobody wants to go out there and tear up a race car this close to race day, for sure. It was pretty hairy out there, but that’s representative of what it will be like in the race. In the race, when you have that many cars in a group, you won’t be able to run fast times. You’ll have to use all the gears and occasionally use the brakes. I know that sounds weird here. It gets really interesting and difficult and you are reacting to what everyone is doing, not just what your car is doing.”
Oriol Servia: “”I’m very happy. We did lots of miles and tried lots of things. The best case scenario happened, which was that I was the happiest with the No. 77 Jahia and Lucas Oil car on my last run. I’m looking forward to May 29th. I think we have good cars and I couldn’t be happier with the whole team, and what we have in store for the race.”
Alexander Rossi: “It was a pretty jam-packed day. We tried to get a lot of running in during a short period of time. It’s a complete mental shift from last week – just working on race running and traffic running. I think it was positive. It was hard to really stay what everyone is doing but we were able to stay behind cars, and pass cars, which is good.”