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Daily Trackside Report - Wednesday May 14

TODAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local):
8 a.m.    Garages open
Noon-6 p.m.    Indianapolis 500 practice
***
Light rain was falling over the Speedway this morning.
***
Some fun with Indianapolis 500 numbers:
Simon Pagenaud’s car in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis was the first car with a number between 70 and 79 to visit victory lane in race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Perhaps more interesting is that cars carrying single-digit numbers and numbers in the teens, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s 80’s and 90’s all have been to Victory Lane, however, no car with a number in the 70’s has won the Indianapolis 500, which Pagenaud hopes to change this year.
***
2:50 pm. – Trucks running around oval in track-drying effort,
***
Verizon IndyCar Series drivers talked about the effect the rain delays today and on Tuesday have had on their preparations for the race.

TOWNSEND BELL (No. 6 Robert Graham KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “I think it’s all right. We have a really good baseline setup to work with here at KV and the car has been excellently prepared and we have good people. I feel very comfortable in the car out there. At this point, I’m looking forward to qualifying. We’ve had four good, long runs in the car, so we have a pretty good sense of where we stand. It’s not a big deal.” (How do you spend the day as you wait to go out?): “Just catching up on e-mails this morning. Also getting with the guys and going over lots of little refinements and tweaks and things like that. Nothing major. Just trying to stay on top of all the details.”
JAMES DAVISON (No. 33 KVRT/Always Evolving Racing Chevrolet): “We only planned to get out today for an install check with either Townsend (Bell) or (Sebastien) Bourdais shaking the car down. The plan has always been for me to do (Rookie Orientation) tomorrow morning. Weather-provided, we’ll do that and then try to get up to speed as soon as possible. With a limited program, we’ll be very much focused on the race and not taking any unnecessary risk to squeeze speed out of the car for qualifying. We’re very much focused on the race, and looking forward to getting going later today with either Bourdais or Townsend in the car or tomorrow with me in ROP.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Hydroxycut/Mistic KVSH Racing Chevrolet): (How do you spend time waiting to run?) “You try to get ahead, but there’s not much to do, really. We didn’t run Sunday, and we didn’t get much running Monday and clearly didn’t get anything done yesterday. It’s a bit a shame, but that’s what Indy is. Sometimes you get to qualifying and you haven’t done anything yet.  Everybody was (complaining) that there’s an extra practice day on Monday, but maybe everyone will be glad in the end. There’s a lot of downtime in Indy and you have to find ways to use it in a positive way and keep your head in the game.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): “The good thing about having some rain delay is it gives our guys some time off after a hectic weekend with the GP of Indianapolis. Obviously people want to be running and working on their setups. It’s sort of a yin and yang thing with the rain. Overall, I think it will balance out. We’ve got a good setup on the SFHR car and we should be fine.”
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 67 SFHR/RW Motorsports Honda): “It’s not easy to continue the (testing) program with less practice time because we have so many things that we wanted to try. At some point you have to rely on the knowledge of the team and look at the data so you can make smart choices for the next day you are able to run. I’m pretty confident that the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team has the capabilities and all the tools that we need to get a great qualifying and good cars for the race.” (Are you losing race setup or qualifying preparations?): “I would say qualifying prep for us. The second day we were running, we went to try something and we didn’t have time to try it. The same thing happened yesterday with the rain. Just before it started pouring down, we had made a massive change and were about to go try it and we didn’t have time. I think we never extracted the full potential of the car and we never got the car to the speed that it’s capable. It is what it is, but that’s the challenge of the Speedway in the Month of May.”
***
4 p.m. – Track drying efforts continuing. Practice will be extended to 7 p.m (ET) once it begins.
***
Anticipating a rainy day in Indianapolis, Kurt Busch departed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, heading to Charlotte today to spend the day with Stewart-Haas Racing. Busch, who will attempt to compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte on May 25, will return to Indianapolis for  practice Thursday and Friday before qualifying his No. 26 Suretone Verizon IndyCar Series machine on Saturday morning.
Saturday evening, Busch will return to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the NASCAR All-Star Race before returning to Indy on Sunday for more qualifying and practice.
Kurt Busch (No. 26 Suretone Honda): (About being ranked third on the overall time charts after three days of practice): “It definitely wasn't on my radar. But what I've been able to do as a student is each day progress at a strong rate, and progressing is being able to digest the information and then being able to apply it the next day. Each day out, the Andretti Autosport team has helped me with a game plan on what's next, so it's nice when you can have a solid forecast of what to expect. As far as guys getting tows and posting those good laps, some of my drafting experience helps from what I've seen at Daytona and Talladega; Indianapolis has a little bit of Darlington characteristics into it. What I mean by that is you have to be single file and you have to know which corner you are approaching at all times, and it's a matter of give and take with the other drivers out on the track. I haven't been around many guys, mostly the Andretti guys but it's been thumbs up right now. It's been nice to continue to find speed and to feel more comfortable in the car in the traffic." (About the biggest surprise so far in his Indy 500 experiences): “The biggest thing that's been a surprise is honestly just the open arms that everyone has had here and supportive of me being here and just kind of rooting me on. It's nice to talk to Rick Mears or to bump into Juan Pablo Montoya and we're talking NASCAR and the crossover to IndyCar. Then again Michael (Andretti) has been amazing. He's a great owner to drive for and even the camaraderie with Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and Marco (Andretti); it's just been neat to experience it all." (About  losing track time Wednesday to rain): “I think it's a nice point... sometimes to just have a reset and have a day when we're not continuing to feed information and just have a day to digest. Once the track is good to go, we're going to have cooler conditions and it's going to be more ideal for qualifying trim anyway. We'll have qualifying Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then come back around and work on race trim again Monday."


ENTRY LIST UPDATE:
The entrant name for #22 Karam is Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing with Chip Ganassi Racing. The car name is now Comfort Revolution/Brantley Gilbert.

INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE:
    At 5 p.m., the ambient temperature was 60 degrees with a relative humidity of 81 percent and winds from the south at 3 mph. Skies were cloudy. The track temperature was 74 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.
    5 p.m. – GREEN. Session has begun after a delay of five hours.
`    5:30 p.m. – YELLOW. Track inspection.
    5:41 p.m. – GREEN.
    5:45 p.m. – #77 Pagenaud turns lap at 226.122, fastest of the month, so far.
    6 p.m. – YELLOW. #98 Hawksworth does a half spin and makes hard contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 3. Car comes to rest in the grass between Turns 3 and 4. Car has moderate damage to the left-side of the car. Driver climbs from the car without assistance from the Holmatro Safety Team.
    6:06 p.m. – Light rain reported over Turn 1.
***
Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, INDYCAR Medical Director: Jack Hawksworth has been checked and released from the infield medical center. He is cleared to drive.
JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 98 Integrity Energee Drink Honda): “I have no idea what happened to be honest. We just went into [Turn] 3 and it just snapped, so we’ll have to look into it. I don’t know if it’s – honestly, I wouldn’t want to comment just yet because I have no idea. Suddenly it just snapped.”
***
    6:18 p.m. – GREEN.
    6:24 p.m. – YELLOW. Rain falling over Turn 2.
    6:29 p.m. – CHECKERED. Track closed for the day due to rain

FASTEST TIMES/SPEEDS OF PRACTICE:

Pos.    Car     Name    Time    Speed
1.    77    Simon Pagenaud    39.8016    226.122
2.    21    JR Hildebrand    39.8488    225.854
3.    9    Scott Dixon    39.9123    225.494
4.    3    Helio Castroneves    39.9396    225.340
5.    7    Mikhail Aleshin    39.9449    225.310
***
Thirty-one drivers have been on the track to date and turned 1,044 laps today and 5,095 laps this month. Juan Pablo Montoya turned 61 laps today, most of any driver. There were three cautions for a total of 33 minutes and 1 second today.
Verizon IndyCar Series officials will open the track at 11 a.m. Thursday to allow James Davison to complete the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program.
***
INDIANAPOLIS 500 POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a quick day due to the amount of rain we got this morning. The No. 3 Pennzoil team had planned to only run one lap due to our engine change last night but ended up taking it out for a few more laps to try an adjustment. Looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully the rain holds off so we can get more laps in.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “Well we waited all day for the weather to clear and we ended up getting some track time today, so I guess something is better than nothing in this case.  Just more of the same running really today. We worked on long runs in the Target car and our speeds improved a bit as well so that was a plus for us.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “We worked on just a few things today really, given the limited track time.  A lot of our focus today was on dampers and spring combinations.  We made some changes, but again very limited time on track today for Team Target and everyone else.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “It was kind of nice to get out at all today.  We thought it was going to be a wash out.  I felt like it was a bonus session today.  We were able to learn a couple of things and we are itching closer to where we want to be with the race cars.  Both J.R. and I have been trying a couple of things likely and I think we are both making progress.  I think we are making a step forward now.  Obviously, the cars have speed.  J.R. put up a big number today. That’s encouraging also.  Hope to get more track time on Thursday.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “There are so many things that are within our control, but the weather isn’t one of them. We didn’t need to see that rain today, but it is what it is. The No. 2 Verizon Chevy team is sticking to the plan. The good news is the car continues to show speed out there. Hopefully tomorrow is drier than the last couple of days.”

MARTIN PLOWMAN (No. 41 ABC Suppy/A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "Today was a really good day for us. Yesterday I didn't feel very comfortable in the car in traffic but we fixed a few things overnight and the very first session I got out there and mixed the car up in traffic and was able to stay flat and pass quite a few people in traffic. So I think we're exactly where we want to be at this time of week. Speed-wise, we're still very heavy on downforce and didn't have the gearing to go faster than that, but we know we have a car that will easily mix it up with the mid- to front-pack guys." (About what he did with his spare time during the rain delay): "I spent a couple of hours watching on-board videos from last year's race from different cars just trying to learn things that I could pick up from starts and restarts and how to position my car in traffic to avoid the mistakes that those guys made. I was able to visualize myself in that position so that things will seem a bit more normal when I'm there on Race Day."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Racing Honda): “It feels really good. The car is really nice. I’m very, very happy so far. Obviously the conditions are very good for a fast lap.  The density of the air is a lot stronger so you can run in a little less wind for the same amount of downforce as yesterday and that creates lap time and obviously the engines work better with a stronger density in the air. That’s why you see big laps today. It’s always enjoyable to get close to 230. Hopefully we can break that in qualifying. That would be great, but the car is fantastic. I’m very happy. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports is really, really doing a great job this month. Our Honda engine seems to be very competitive. So, so far so good. I think the balance of the car is really good in traffic. I’m very happy, very comfortable. Third year in Indianapolis is a big change compared to the first two years. I feel a lot more comfortable. I have a better vision of what I need for the race. So yea, I really enjoy it and am having a great time.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “After a long day of waiting due to the weather, we rushed to get in a short 90 minute practice session. It was good that the officials extended the practice session so we were able to get in a few runs. The car was better today after trying some different settings from yesterday. It was better in traffic although we weren’t in heavy traffic, just light traffic. But I could definitely feel that the car was better. We’ll continue to work to find more stability but we were able to do two long runs today and get a gauge on the mileage. Hopefully it won’t rain the next few days.”
SAGE KARAM, (No. 22 Comfort Revolution/Brantley Gilbert Chevrolet): "The day went well. It was kind of a weird day, waiting around for the weather to clear up. We actually didn't think we were going to get out at all today, so just to get some laps in was a plus. I got to feel a new wind direction (a tailwind into turn one), which I think was the most beneficial thing for us this afternoon. Also it was a bit colder, so I got to feel what pit road is like in cool conditions. As far as lap times, we didn't get into a strong draft today, so we mostly worked on setting up the car to run alone or with one car in front. We'll see how it goes the rest of the week, and we'll try to get the No. 22 car higher up on the charts before qualifying weekend."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Preferred Freezer/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “Obviously we’d rather be on the sharp end of the stick than not. I think there’s two takeaways I guess from looking at this, one, the Chevys and Hondas seem to be quite evenly matched, which I think is a good thing generally for the series. Two years ago when the engine competition first started, there was a pretty definitive difference that the Hondas were better on race day, the Chevys were better in qualifying. Last year the Chevys had a little bit of the advantage across the board. It seems like we’re in for a bit of a fight, so that’s always good to make sure that everybody’s in contention out there.” (About showing speed): “I don’t care about putting up a big lap time, I care about how the car feels. It’s great to see that the car has the speed in it because at the end of the day you rarely go through practice with guys that are capable of setting those fast times, they end up being the guys that have the quicker cars. Certainly our focus is trying to make sure not that we can put in a big tow lap, but that we can catch up to that guy and pass him, and leapfrog through the next few guys ahead of him. So that’s what we’re working on right now. I think with myself and Ed, we’ve both had experiences over the last few years that have I think make us really that the priority really is race day and that’s it. So far it’s going well. Glad we were able to get out today, we definitely learned a few things with the conditions being quite different than they were over the last few days, and we’ll continue plugging away.”

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 68 SFHR/RW Motorsports): “The boys did a good job. We tried some new things and it definitely worked out and it was a good session. It gives us a lot of data to analyze tonight and prepare for tomorrow.  Slowly but surely we are getting to a point where we are working on the car as much for race trim and understanding things that we might need for qualifying. I’m pleased but there’s more to come. I’m really happy with where we are at the moment and I know the potential has not been obtained yet. I’m looking forward to getting quicker every day." (About the shortened day): “"I was happy with what we got today because I think we can re set the button and look at the data. I think more is always better to prepare for qualifying but tonight’s session will help us read into a couple of changes that we wanted to address and that we wanted to view. If we end up not having a lot of time due to the weather, this particular session today was quite important."

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "I’m happy we got some laps today. Fighting the rain all day long, so getting almost 40 laps in was good. Hopefully it’s dry tomorrow so we can get a lot of running in tomorrow and work more on the race setup and figure out what we need in traffic. Today was fast because it was cold compared to the other days. With that you can take more front wing out. There’s still a lot to do before qualifications. I think we are getting close but we have to figure out every little detail before qualifying on Saturday."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 National Guard Honda): “It was a short day. I didn’t think we were going out today but we got lucky. I hope we get lucky Thursday too. I think we’ve got a lot to work on. I was pretty optimistic the first couple of laps; I thought the car was pretty good but we just never really gained anything from there. Now its time to start digging deep and figure out what it is.  Both of our cars did the same speed. We’ve got to find more and keep working hard.”
 
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): “I went for a long run in the morning and caught up on some emails during the rain delay. The engineers were working and honestly, sometimes a day like this is a good time to catch up and analyze what you have done. If not you just keep testing and testing and its hard to really analyze everything you test. We will take the last day and a half of rain but now we are ready to get back at it.  We just did a couple of runs and the car felt good. It was almost just a reset of the setup but now we want to try more things. It’s all good, we keep improving.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We logged some miles today to test a few things, so the day wasn’t a total loss. I think we are progressing pretty good with the DHL car. We’ve been focusing on the race car set up and running with teammates to help simulate some race conditions. We’ll take a look at everything and start moving into qualifying work over the next two days."
***
WEDNESDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local):
8 a.m. –  Garages open
11 a.m.-Noon – Indianapolis 500
Noon-6 p.m. – Indianapolis 500 practice
 

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