After a clean Opening Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday, Wednesday presented the first two crashes of the month. Around 12:30 PM, Fernando Alonso misjudged the exit in Turn 3 and smacked the outside wall, which sent him into the inside wall, and spinning back onto the track and into the outside wall in Turn 4. Fortunately he was able to exit the car on his own power, unharmed. The McLaren machine was severely damaged from the multiple hits.
Just as Happy Hour began, Felix Rosenqvist got a little too low in Turn 2, clipping the grass and sending his car into a violet spin into the outside wall. Some heads up driving by Will Power and Jack Harvey prevented the accident from becoming even bigger, as Felix came across the track quickly. Still, it was a hard hit for the Ganassi driver, who slid into the inside tire barrier. He too was checked and released from the medical center.
Wednesday Indianapolis 500 Practice Results
Josef Newgarden was the fastest on Wednesday, keeping Team Penske’s streak alive after Power took the top spot yesterday. Newgarden’s lap of 228.856 mph just edged out 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon. Spencer Pigot was 3rd fastest, as Ed Carpenter Racing continues to flex their muscle. The team’s other two cars were both inside the top ten. There were a total of 3,219 laps turned today, which was 216 more than Tuesday.
The big stories were obviously the accidents involving the two high-profile drivers. McLaren has been struggling to find speed, while dealing with electrical issues on top of that. The car that was destroyed today is the chassis that was built in England. Their backup car that was assembled here in the United States is being taken apart, as they will use pieces from that car to repair the primary. The crew will be hard at work through the night.
“It was understeer on the car, and even if I lifted the throttle on the entry of the corner, it was not enough and I lost completely the front aero.” Alonso said. “The wall came too close and too quickly. Unfortunately, it happened today. We will lose a little bit of running time again. I’m sorry for the team, but we will learn, and hopefully, we will come back stronger tomorrow. I’m disappointed and sad for the team and for the guys. We worked quite a lot on the car and definitely now it’s quite damaged, so I feel sorry for the team and for my mistake. We will learn from this and hopefully tomorrow we’re back on track and back stronger.”
Looking at speeds without a tow, it was Alexander Rossi leading the way, followed closely by Kyle Kaiser for Juncos Racing. Team owner Ricardo Juncos stated today that he has been hard at work to secure sponsorship, and hopes to have some good news soon. Patricio O’Ward was able to complete his ROP this morning before practice began after mechanical issues on the car prevented him from doing so yesterday.
While there were two incidents on Wednesday, Graham Rahal had a couple of close calls himself.
Though there was a threat of rain early in the morning, the weather was absolutely perfect all day long. The forecast calls for more sun and slightly warmer temperatures on Thursday. Practice begins at 11 AM and will run until 6 PM once again.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: “We had a pretty good day. We’re trying to set a few things methodically and slowly. I was relatively happy with the car being in the window. The Shell Chevy looks good and feels good. It looks like a race car. It’s really pretty and I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it. We just need to make sure it’s as fast as it needs to be. It was a solid day. We worked on some race stuff and will probably get into some qualifying stuff tomorrow.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES: “Another great day for the Pennzoil Chevy. We felt that every moment we were out there was a learning process. We made some positive changes and as the track cooled down, we decided to stop a little early so we can focus on warmer weather tomorrow. So, tomorrow is going to be a busy day, for sure, and we’re looking forward to it.”
MATHEUS LEIST: “Productive day here at the track. We went over a lot of things that we had planned and didn’t have any issues, so that was a good thing. Through most of the day we did a lot of “qually” (qualifying) runs trying to focus on qualifying and trying to develop our car from last year. Towards the end of the day, we just focused a little bit more on race pace-ran about an hour and a half with race setup. Just looking forward to Day 3. I think we have a good baseline for qualifying and the race, so we’ll just keep trying to have smooth days and we’ll be in good shape for qualifying and race day.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: “Today was a good day for the Arrow crew. We had another long list of things we wanted to get through from an engineering side and we knocked most of them off pretty successfully. We learned some things that worked, some that didn’t, but spent a lot of time on our race car today. I think, by the end of the day, we’re really happy with how we’re running in traffic.”
MARCUS ERICSSON: “It was a productive second day. Again, we went through our program without any issues. We managed to do some running on our own and quite a bit in a pack, which I still feel is the biggest sort of learning curve for me, getting used to running in a pack. That was sort of what we focused on again today. I was quite happy with that, I feel like we’re making progress all the time in the Arrow car. We’re taking it step by step, and I think that’s important. This morning we did some no-tow running, and that was pretty promising, as well, so there’s a lot of positives. Like I said, it’s a long month, and we just have to take it step by step.”
SCOTT DIXON: “We worked on race running pretty much all day in the PNC Bank car. We had a baseline setup that I think was pretty strong. We ran a lot of laps and tried to go through a lot of mechanical things and then with the dampers. I think we made some solid gains and then we were just trying to pick the right times to run at the end and maximize what we could learn.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST: “I was behind Colton (Herta) and I was just trying to run the NTT DATA car in traffic and I felt a very sudden change. I had a bit of push and it went very loose, very fast. I couldn’t react to it. Luckily, my team has built a really good car and a really safe car, so I am completely fine. I just really have to analyze what happened there. I’m not sure if I was down on the curb. It kind of looked like I could have been up a little bit and that probably explains it. I cannot really remember. It’s a shame, but that’s how it is.”
WILL POWER: “We’re definitely in a better window right now. I feel a lot more comfortable in traffic and the car feels pretty good. So now we’re just going to have to start trying little things. Maybe head into some qualifying work tomorrow. I saw (Felix) Rosenqvist crash in front of me and it was so, so close. I’m glad he’s OK. This place you have to be so careful with these cars. They can really bite you. I just hated to see him hit the wall like that.”
TONY KANAAN: “A good solid day. We did a lot more of qualifying work, I think we’re P2 (no tow speed) and then at the end, (we did) some race work. Happy, I’m happy but we’ve got to keep digging. We don’t know what the other guys are doing. Some are doing just race stuff. I’m pretty happy with my race car right now. There’s a couple things we need to improve, but we’ve got to qualify first, so we’re going to concentrate on that tomorrow.”
GRAHAM RAHAL: “We ran in race trim all day. I feel like we’re pretty competitive. We need to get some understeer out of the car to be a little bit quicker. In general, I think we’re close. It seems like a lot of guys are good on one run and struggle the next. It’s going to be one of those deals where we have to stay committed to it, try to work through it and find ways to improve. I think all three of our cars are very similar on balance, so the good sign is we can all work together at it.” (About coming close to the wall on a few laps:) “The one felt close (to the wall) behind Spencer (Pigot). I knew that what happened to Fernando (Alonso) could have easily happened to me. I could sense it was coming, so luckily, I lifted before it got bad. Unfortunately, it seems like when you get in the wake and the car decides to understeer, it goes pretty big.”
SANTINO FERRUCCI: “It was another solid day at the racetrack. We were running in race trim, turning laps and we happened to set one of those really cool tow laps while running in the pack. It’s nice to go 228.5 mph and be near the top of the timesheet. I think we have something solid, but now we are going to start backing it down and preparing for qualifying, probably later in the day on Thursday.” (About his learning curve at Indy): “It’s a slow learning process. There’s no way to rush anything. You go day-by-day learning how to manage traffic, race others, learning the gaps, how to come into the box and out of the box better, learning your tools.”
ED CARPENTER: “It was a decent day. It felt a little more like May today in practice. Everything went exactly to script and all the changes we made, we were pretty happy with. Today was a good exploration day. In the end, we made progress. We had some peaks and valleys throughout the day, but that’s what you have to deal with in May. It’s what makes it so challenging on track. Overall, I think things are working really well for the team. I feel pretty good about the progress we are making, but there is still a lot of work to do. We will be working more towards speed as we get closer to the weekend.”
SPENCER PIGOT: “It was another good day. We made a lot of improvements to the car. In traffic, we made the car a lot better, which is always positive. We were able to put up some good lap times and pass quite a few cars. So far, so good in practice.”
SIMON PAGENAUD: “We had a really good first two days here at the Speedway. We’re really happy with the Menards Chevy. It’s good. It’s strong in traffic and good on its own, so we’re just going to work on little details, which is amazing. We’re way ahead of the program, so I believe this strengthens our chances.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL: “Overall, it was another great day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We spent a little bit of time working on single-car pace and started down a road of changes and found a direction we need to keep exploring. After we got some laps in early in the session, we came back to the garage and got ready for some race running. We did some work in traffic and the No. 23 Fiasp Carlin® Chevrolet was OK, but now we have a pretty solid direction we need to keep pursuing. The spotters and the whole team did a great job today and we were able to finish up the day with some good live pit stop practice.”
SAGE KARAM: “Day 2 for us was definitely a step in the right direction. We did some setup work overnight and made an initial run. We made a few minor changes, but it wasn’t what we wanted. So, we went back to the garage and went in the direction of JR’s (Hildebrand) setup. The car was way better and I was able to make some good runs by myself. Yesterday (Tuesday) and this morning, the car didn’t feel very good running with other cars. But this afternoon the car felt much better in the packs. We are working with JR and his team with a variety of setups for traffic. I like the direction our team is going towards the weekend.”
CONOR DALY: “Yesterday was a bit of a struggle for us, but we went back to what we liked yesterday and it was a great today. The car has a lot of speed in it. I really don’t think we have shown the maximum potential – people get some lucky laps out there – and I think we have been focused on our program. I was happy with the car all day. It was nice to do a lot of laps and knock out a lot of test items. Even in traffic, it is tough to run with these cars in traffic, but I had a lot of confidence after today to be able to just go out and run laps. Really nice to have this day on track, and hopefully, we can do more tomorrow.”
ZACH VEACH: “So far, so good. This morning was a bit of a challenge. We jumped from my car (setup) to something that Alexander (Rossi) was running, and the first half of the day we worked to get it a little more comfortable for us. Luckily, around 3 p.m. we made some changes that were great and brought the thing back into the window, which I kind of liked and it went up from there. To be P7 two days in a row, overall, a lot of that is tow, but I think we have a pretty good car. We’ve just got to keep making progress. I think we found the car today that we are going to qualify Saturday. Thursday and Friday will be all about tweaking it.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI: “It was another good day running through the checklist of things we were trying to get done – I think we accomplished most of it. As I said yesterday, it’s really trying to stay up on top of the track conditions as the temperature changes as we get later in the week. I’m happy with where we are at so far, and hopefully, we can continue the practice tomorrow.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “Today was definitely more of a challenging day trying to find speed and balance with the car. (Temperatures) were a bit warmer today, more representative to what we will see later in the week. We are just trying to get through our race checklist and qualifying checklist. We definitely have to find some speed in the No. 28 and that is what we will focus on tomorrow.”
TAKUMA SATO: “We were only working on the race setup today. This place is so different, considering its only four corners and the speed range is 220 mph, but it changes a lot, day to day. By yourself, it felt good, but in traffic it was a very different feeling. The track is getting more rubber laid down and everyone is getting more competitive and the whole pace is raised. It’s even more difficult to follow. In fact, trying to overtake is extremely difficult. I think we learned quite a few things today, and hopefully, we can translate it into tomorrow for a better result.”
PATRICIO O’WARD: “I think it was a pretty good day for us. We were able to finish up our Rookie Orientation Program this morning and then we started going through our run plan for the day. I was very pleased with what the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet did out there today. Even though we were further down on the timing sheets, we ended ninth for no-tow speed, so I’m happy with that. We did some good work for qualifying and then we did some running in traffic, so I could get a feel for what that was like in an Indy car. We definitely have some more work to do to the car, but I really think tomorrow is going to be even better for us.”
KYLE KAISER: “Overall, I am really happy with how Day 2 has gone. Starting off this morning we rolled off in the No. 32 Chevrolet and went straight off to running in traffic and had a pretty strong lap right out of the gate. More importantly, the car is feeling really good. The balance has improved a lot since last year. Running on our own, our no-tow speeds are really strong and the car’s balance also feels great. The team has just done an amazing job preparing for this. Regardless of what is happening outside of our program, the team is maintaining focus and doing a really great job. I am looking forward to having another fun day tomorrow as we keep preparing and get closer to qualifying.”
JAMES DAVISON: “We had an encouraging day straight off the bat. This morning we had a much more competitive car in race trim and further improved the car with some of the changes that we made. We also were able to find some changes we wouldn’t use, further advancing our knowledge of the car. Today we were able to pass a large number of cars, which is what today was all about, being ‘racy’ and working on race trim. I’m looking forward to going further tomorrow.”
PIPPA MANN: “Today was another good day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Clauson-Marshall Racing Driven2SaveLives Chevrolet. We spent today working on our single-car speed and we feel good about our direction. The official NTT IndyCar Series no-tow timesheets show us in P12, so that’s extremely encouraging. We’ll continue to work on our program and get ready for qualifying for the 103rd Indy 500 this weekend.”
JORDAN KING: “We were up to speed much better today, starting to feel the car and actually work the car well. We made some good progress. Our no-tow time is not too bad, obviously, (but) in traffic, I’m still struggling myself inside the car. It’s kind of a double whammy – there’s a few people who put in some quick times in traffic, which is unfortunate. We need to work on that for the race, and obviously, work on it for qualifying. Those are the two things we’re trying to work on and making small progress.”
JR HILDEBRAND: “We are just learning what we can do with the car. We want to work more with the package this year and it isn’t that much different from last year. However, there are a few new aero parts, a new tire compound from Firestone and the sealer on the racing surface. We feel like we are in the window now. We don’t feel like we should be throwing major changes at it. Because of that we are trying to be thoughtful and making sure that when we make changes we are getting a good read of the car. The car feels pretty good. Feels like we are close to where we want to be. We did all race running again today. We ran with other cars, but right when we thought we would record a big number, there was a track inspection. It happened twice. But our crew seems ready to get more speed out of the car on Thursday.”
MAX CHILTON: “I think that’s probably the most laps Carlin has ever done in a practice session here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is good progress. With race running, the more laps that you do the more you learn. I think we did the most laps out of anyone out there and I’m starting to feel more confident with the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet race car. There are still a few things that we need to iron out, but after two days of testing, I’d say it’s going well.”
JACK HARVEY: “We had a pretty productive day, we managed to get through a lot. We did some race running and some single-car running, and I think in the end, it was a pretty positive day. Our no-tow times are getting better, but we still have more work to do on our race setup, so we can run better in traffic. We are taking steps in the right direction and we will continue to chip away at our to-do list. We will go into Thursday a little bit stronger than we were today.”
ED JONES: “Another positive day. Made some changes, made some improvements. We also found some elements that didn’t work. It’s all part of the learning process, but I think we are going in the right direction.”
FERNANDO ALONSO: “It was understeer on the car, and even if I lifted the throttle on the entry of the corner, it was not enough and I lost completely the front aero. The wall came too close and too quickly. Unfortunately, it happened today. We will lose a little bit of running time again. I’m sorry for the team, but we will learn, and hopefully, we will come back stronger tomorrow. I’m disappointed and sad for the team and for the guys. We worked quite a lot on the car and definitely now it’s quite damaged, so I feel sorry for the team and for my mistake. We will learn from this and hopefully tomorrow we’re back on track and back stronger.” (About if something came loose on the car): “No, I think it was just pure understeer that I didn’t expect. I was running a bit close to another car, and suddenly, mid-corner I lost completely the front grip. I tried to lift off and avoid the wall.”
ORIOL SERVIA: “Yesterday, I was happy because it was the first day, I was just getting used to everything, but I wasn’t really loving the car, to be honest. I feel today that we made some reasonable steps towards everything; feeling more comfortable, gaining speed overall. Again, I still say the same, the timesheets don’t mean much, it just means you’ve got a good tow or not (at this point in the week). All that matters is today. The MotoGator car is better than yesterday. As a part-timer, as my engineer (Bruno Couprie) calls us, you always want to think that the first day, you’re as good as ever, but the truth is, it takes a little bit to get to the best you can be and I think we’re getting closer to that.”
COLTON HERTA: “Solid day on track today for the No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda. Our qualifying pace is pretty decent as we finished eighth in no-tow speed. We did a lot of trial and error on track to get ready for race day. We still have a bit of work to do because I’m still not 100 percent comfortable running in traffic yet, but I’m still learning and need to get the momentum right. We have a couple more days to learn and get more comfortable before we qualify.”
MARCO ANDRETTI: “Not much positive to say. We can’t really hit on what we are looking for yet, so we’ll keep swinging at it.”