- Daily Trackside Report: Opening Day, May 12
May 12, 2012 | By Paul Kelly
Daily Trackside Report: Opening Day, May 12
Welcome to Opening Day/Celebration of Automobiles for the 96th Indianapolis 500, the fifth race of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season. Amy Konrath, vice president of public relations/communications for INDYCAR, Doug Boles, vice president of communications for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and their staffs are here to assist you. Please direct your questions and requests to anyone in the Media Center.
This is the 46th edition of the Indianapolis 500 Daily Trackside Report, which was first distributed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1967. As stated on the first page of the 1967 DTR: "This press information has been compiled as an added source of your information in your coverage of the '500.' It is our sincere wish that it will be of assistance in your assignment."
Notes and items of interest will appear on these pages during the month and will also be available on the official IZOD IndyCar Series website, www.indycar.com. Performance histories will be issued at the end of each day in the Media Center and on the IZOD IndyCar Series websites.
Live timing and scoring reports from the Indianapolis 500 will be available on the Internet at www.indycar.com. The live timing and scoring module provides statistical information, including track segment speeds, lap information and much more.
Feature stories, reports, driver quotes and notes, and photos will be posted on the site each day. More detailed information, including media advisories and VNF coordinates, is available at www.indycar.com/media.
The 96th Indianapolis 500 Media Guide is available online at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway media website, media.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.
The Guide is available only in digital format this year.
Media members can access a link to the guide in the News section of the IMS media site. Once the link is clicked, the Guide is loaded in a special interface that allows the Guide to be read like a traditional book. There also are a variety of unique features for easy navigation, including:
- Table of Contents with links to each section for faster access to specific information.
- The ability to bookmark specific pages or sections.
- Linked thumbnails of every page.
- Full-screen viewing.
- Zoomed viewing and navigation of each page for easier reading.
- The ability to print specific pages or the entire Guide.
- The ability to download the Guide as a PDF to a hard drive or a USB thumb drive.
Media are welcome to apply for IMS media site access and create a unique username and password by visiting media.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.
Please contact Paul Kelly of IMS Public Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments about the Guide.
TODAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local):
8 a.m. Garages open
Noon-6 p.m. Indianapolis 500 practice
INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE:
At 11:55 a.m., the ambient temperature was 70 degrees with a relative humidity of 44 percent and winds from the southwest at 6 mph. Skies were hazy. The track temperature was 107 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.
Noon – GREEN. #2 Ryan Briscoe is first car on track. All three Team Penske cars -- #2 Briscoe, #3 Castroneves, #12 Power – run in three-wide formation down the front straightaway on their first lap.
INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE:
12:51 p.m. – YELLOW. Debris.
12:52 p.m. – GREEN.
FIRST ON TRACK, 1984-2011
Year Driver Started Finished
2011 Helio Castroneves 16th 17th
2010 Helio Castroneves 1st 9th
2009 Robert Doornbos 23rd 28th
2008 Will Power 23rd 13th
2007 Jaques Lazier 28th 27th
2006 Marco Andretti 9th 2nd
2005 Danica Patrick 4th 4th
2004 Sarah Fisher 19th 24th
2003 Felipe Giaffone 16th 33rd
2002 Billy Boat 23rd 18th
2001 Stephan Gregoire 29th 28th
2000 Stephan Gregoire 20th 7th
1999 Stephan Gregoire Did Not Qualify
1998 Mike Groff 32nd 15th
1997 Dr. Jack Miller 17th 20th
1996 Michele Alboreto 12th 30th
1995 Eliseo Salazar 24th 4th
1994 Raul Boesel 2nd 21st
1993 Jimmy Vasser 19th 13th
1992 Scott Brayton 7th 22nd
1991 Scott Brayton 19th 17th
1990 Tero Palmroth 16th 12th
1989 Arie Luyendyk 15th 21st
1988 Raul Boesel 7th 20th
1987 Ludwig Heimrath Jr. 10th 30th
1986 Chip Ganassi 26th 25th
1985 Dick Simon 26th 14th
1984 Dick Simon 20th 23rd
Indianapolis 500 veteran Sarah Fisher is spotting today for rookie Bryan Clauson, driver of the No. 39 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing/RW Dallara/Honda/Firestone.
Townsend Bell, driver of the No. 99 BraunAbility/Schmidt Pelfrey Motorsports car, will not be at IMS until Sunday. He is driving in the American Le Mans Monterey presented by Patron race today at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.
Bell is flying to Indianapolis from California on a red-eye flight tonight, arriving in Indianapolis at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. He will come straight to IMS for his driver physical and plans to turn some shakedown laps and maybe one full fuel run.
Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser visited the track today. Unser is one of the Indianapolis 500-winning drivers who is serving as a judge for the Vintage and Historic Car Show today during the Celebration of Automobiles.
BOBBY UNSER: (About returning to Indy, with new cars and engines this year): “It’s exciting. I think the cars are real pretty. They're going to see how fast they can go, and I think the fans are going to be really excited to see them. In other words, it's something different. We've needed something different for so long that it's just going to be a lot better. I think we're all looking forward to it. For sure, I am.”
1974 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year and 1985 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Pancho Carter is serving as an honorary judge today for the Celebration of Automobiles Vintage and Historic Car show. Along with Roger Penske, Rick Mears, Bobby Unser and Tom Sneva, Carter will help Road & Track editors choose division and overall winners from more than 200 cars from the 1920s to 1970s.
PANCHO CARTER: “The Speedway got me out here early this morning to help judge these beautiful classic cars, which will be a tough job to do. Let me tell you, there are a lot of wonderfully restored vehicles out here. It’s hard to pick a favorite, because they really all catch my eye. We’ve got so many nice cars: It's going to be really tough to judge. They all look extremely well-prepared. But I always love coming out to the Speedway; it's like coming home.”
2011 Indianapolis 500 Chase Rookie of the Year JR Hildebrand drove to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this morning in a 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle 396 Super Sport that Panther Racing presented to him last July as a gift for finishing second in the Indianapolis 500. The Chevelle SS has been Hildebrand’s dream car since he was a boy growing up in Northern California.
Hildebrand’s Chevelle SS is parked today in the IMS infield along with other cars participating in the Automobile Festival, a new addition to the Celebration of Automobiles that features current and late model vehicles on display in manufacturer- and model-specific groups.
JR HILDEBRAND: “It's obviously a good-looking ride, and I drive it around quite a bit. Around Indianapolis, obviously, you get a lot of weather, but on days like this, I certainly roll it out of the garage. There are a lot of places around the world where the car culture is big, and this is one of them. It’s a fun car and a little bit of an eye-catcher, and I get a lot of thumbs-up driving around town."
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard was the honorary starter today, waving the green flag to start the first practice for the 96th Indianapolis 500.
GREG BALLARD: “It’s unbelievable fun to wave the green flag, to be able to do that every year. I’m out there just a few feet away from the cars. It’s a great way to kick off the month. It’s so much fun to be out here to see the first day, and there are thousands out here already. I hope all the people come out here and support all these activities all month. The vintage cars are out here and so are Purdue’s eV races. It’s so much fun to come out here and be part of it. It’s amazing how many events have been added to the ‘500.’ It used to just be the race and a couple of other events. There are so many events, from the parade to the crowning of the queen. Each organization does their thing to make this event meaningful to the city, all in support of this great race track. There is an entire industry built up as the result of the track being here in Indianapolis. We estimate there are 8,000 jobs in motorsports alone that are year-round here. And those are high-paying jobs. Seven colleges have motorsports programs in the state of Indiana. So much of the safety evolution of the passenger car is the result of the evolution of safety at this track. More and more people are getting excited about the race. We have a sister city in England, in heart of motorsports valley. There’s so much going on in motorsports, and this track and this race have been at the core.”
1:43 p.m. – YELLOW. Track inspection.
1:52 p.m. – GREEN.
1:57 p.m. – YELLOW. Debris.
1:59 p.m. – GREEN.
Former Formula One driver Jean Alesi is attempting to become the oldest rookie starter in Indianapolis 500 history. Alesi will be 47 years, 348 days old on Race Day, Sunday, May 27.
USAC standout Jack Hewitt is the oldest rookie starter. He was 46 years, 320 days old when he started the 1998 Indianapolis 500.
Five rookies assigned to cars for the 96th Indianapolis 500 passed all three phases of the Rookie Orientation Program on Thursday, May 10: Rubens Barrichello, Bryan Clauson, James Jakes, Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud.
Jean Alesi and Wade Cunningham completed two of the three phases and can finish the test during practice this week.
Michel Jourdain completed all three phases of the test as a refresher. He last raced in the Indianapolis 500 in 1996.
The Rookie Orientation Program is designed to provide first-year drivers an informal opportunity to get acquainted with the 2.5-mile oval. The three speed phases, which were set by INDYCAR based on the weather and track conditions, were: Phase 1: 10 laps at 200-205 mph; Phase 2: 15 laps at 205-210 mph; and Phase 3: 15 laps at 210 mph-plus.
The 500 Festival announced Saturday that singer/actress/author Olivia Newton-John has been named grand marshal of the 2012 IPL 500 Festival Parade. The 55th IPL 500 Festival Parade is Saturday, May 26 in downtown Indianapolis.
Newton-John also will give the command to start engines for the Firestone Indy Lights Firestone Freedom 100 race Friday, May 25. Her nephew Emerson Newton-John is making his debut in the series in the race.
Four-time Grammy Award winner Olivia Newton-John also will walk the red carpet on Race Morning before the 96th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 27. Since surviving breast cancer in 1992, Newton-John has been an advocate for health awareness, becoming involved with various charities, health products and fundraising efforts. She continues to give back to the community generously and has been acknowledged by charitable and environmental organizations for her ongoing efforts.
OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN: “I am so excited to be the grand marshal for the IPL 500 Festival Parade. The combination of this honor and being in Indianapolis to support my nephew Emerson Newton-John during the Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100 race is sure to make for a wonderful weekend. Emerson has worked tirelessly over the last 10 years in the pursuit of rekindling his racing career and I can’t wait to see him take the green flag on the 25th.”
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti has switched car numbers from No. 10 to No. 50 for his Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone during the 96th Indianapolis in honor of Target’s 50th anniversary in 2012.
Target and team owner Chip Ganassi have partnered together for nearly half of those 50 years. TCGR was established in 1990, as the 2012 season is the 23rd year of partnership between the two organizations.
INDYCAR announced Thursday that turbocharger boost levels will increase for "Fast Friday" and the two days of qualifications for the Indianapolis 500.
The standard boost level of 130 kPa (kilopascals) for superspeedways will be upped to 140 kPa for the Friday, May 18 practice session, Pole Day on Saturday, May 19 and Bump Day on Sunday, May 20. The increase will result in the addition of 40-50 horsepower.
The boost level will be 130 kPa for all other practice days and Race Day, Sunday, May 27.
INDYCAR set boost levels for the Borg-Warner single and twin turbochargers utilized by Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus before the season based on testing. It also will be 130 kPa for the superspeedways of Auto Club Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. The boost level for the short ovals of the Milwaukee Mile and Iowa Speedway is 140 kpa, while it’s 155 kpa for road and street circuits.
"INDY Live" will be on the air May 15, 17, 22 and 24 with Mike King as host. The radio show, starting at 7 p.m. each day, originates from the Brickyard Crossing Restaurant and is open to the public.
Autograph sessions will be held during commercial breaks for attendees. The lineup for the first two shows:
Tuesday, May 15
(7-7:30) – Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Marco Andretti
(7:30-8) – James Hinchcliffe, Ana Beatriz, Ryan Hunter-Reay
Thursday, May 17
(7-7:30) – Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe, Will Power
(7:30-8) – Mike Conway, Wade Cunningham, JR Hildebrand
Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports rookie Simon Pagenaud is turning his ability to misplace accessories, including car keys and sunglasses, into a charity effort this month during the Indianapolis 500.
Pagenaud is asking fans to bring gently-used sunglasses – or “sunnies,” as he calls them – to him at IMS. While Pagenaud will wear some of the sunglasses, all of them will be donated to Goodwill of Indianapolis at the end of May.
Fans are encouraged to bring used sunglasses to Pagenaud during autograph sessions, but he will gladly accept them from any fan at any time. A collection bin for sunglasses will be set up outside the Sam Schmidt Motorsports garages in Gasoline Alley.
For more information on Goodwill, visit goodwillindy.org.
SIMON PAGENAUD: “I lose my sunnies all the time, so this is just something fun I wanted to do with the fans during my first time at Indy. At the same time, I’m able to help out Goodwill of Indianapolis. So please, bring me some sunglasses. You will be helping me and Goodwill.”
Firestone Firehawk race tire facts for the 96th Indianapolis 500:
•An all-new Firestone tire specification with nearly 5,000 total tires is available, with allotments as follows per INDYCAR regulations:
•Each entry receives 33 sets (132 tires) for all of practice, qualifying and the race.
•Rookie orientation participants receive an additional four sets (16 tires) for that session only.
•Veteran refresher participants receive two additional sets (eight tires) for that session only.
•Pole Day top-nine qualifiers receive one additional set for each qualifying attempt in the pole "shootout" session, but those sets must be returned following the session.
•Tire stagger: A single stagger of approximately 0.33 of an inch is available for all teams. Stagger, created by molding the right rear tire with a larger diameter than the left rear, helps race cars turn more naturally and smoothly on oval tracks.
3:05 p.m. – YELLOW. Track inspection.
3:14 p.m. – GREEN.
The Second International Collegiate Electric Vehicle GrandPrix took place Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Racing teams competed on a road course in the parking lot of the IMS Hall of Fame Museum. The grand prix consisted of 28 go-karts representing 11 universities – including two universities from England – and is part of Purdue’s electric vehicle initiative. Three grands prix have been run on the Purdue campus. This is the second at the Speedway.
Purdue partnered with leading technical universities and colleges in Indiana to establish the Indiana Advanced Electric Vehicle Training and Education Consortium (I-AEVtec) to educate and train the workforce needed to design, manufacture and maintain advanced electric vehicles.
STEVE DUNLOP (Purdue University, managing director, evGrand Prix): “The International evGrandPrix came about through a Department of Energy grant two years ago, and it's a celebration of technology. It's to highlight what the students have learned over the last year or two in their classes. We have teams as far away as the U.K., Oklahoma and Bowling Green, Ohio. We have community colleges, as well as four-year institutions and grad students. It's a wealth of students that are involved with highlighting what they've learned in terms of electric vehicles, battery-operated vehicles. It's a race, but the race is only one component. For awards, there's also a design component, an outreach component, an efficiency component and then the race component. All of those together give you the overall winner of the event. We're really trying to push the academics. All of these kids have taken classes involved with electric vehicles, batteries, fuel cells; all the different components that go into this type of technology, as well as motorsports."
NICK MALLISON (Team manager, Warwick Racing; The University of Warwick, Coventry, England): "We've been involved with motorsport as a way of demonstrating eco-friendly technologies to the public. Two years ago, we did an eco-friendly Formula3 car. In fact, it caught the attention of the mayor of Indianapolis. He wanted us to come over here. We came over and ended up having meetings with Purdue University, and they invited us to come to the evGrandPrix last year. It's important to us because a lot of the research we do is about eco-friendly technologies, electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles. It's a natural thing for us to be involved in this type of thing.
TOM OLIPHANT (Driver, Warwick Racing): “I’ve been racing karts for 10 years. I'm a fourth-year engineer, as are all of our team. I've got a lot of knowledge about karting, and I wanted to engineer an electric kart. I actually bought Justin Wilson’s old kart off of him when I was younger.”
DARREN STEWARDSON (Team member, Warwick Racing): “We’re doing this for Dan (Wheldon). I was lucky to meet him a few times. Last year, he must have spent 30 minutes with us last year talking to us. He was an amazing person.”
KIRK BARBER (IUPUI senior, driver of No. 35 IUPUI Motorsports kart): “I've been involved in motorsports at IUPUI for a few years. My degree is motorsports engineering at IUPUI. Part of the curriculum is you have to get hands-on in order to apply your coursework. I've been hands-on with all of our karts for several years and finally this year, after my fourth year, they finally gave me the opportunity to drive it. A 72-volt DC motor is what we run. There are 24 3.2-volt cells. We actually have 40-ampere batteries, which is smaller than what is typical around here. We have less power, that's the disadvantage, but the advantage is we have less weight as well. What we've really tried to concentrate on, being in a motorsports background, is to keep everything lightweight, keeping everything neat and tidy. What you will find on our kart is things are a little bit cleaner, and also we've trimmed weight as best as we could to make our 40-ampere batteries work best for us. On the crew today at the track, we have seven people, but total involved in the project is nine. This kart actually finished second at Purdue two weeks ago, and this exact kart won this race last year.”
1992 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Lyn St. James and 1983 Indianapolis 500 winner Tom Sneva served today as judges of the Celebration of Automobiles Vintage and Historic Car show.
LYN ST. JAMES: “It’s beautiful. I know bringing those cars the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is very special for the car owners. It’s also very special for me and all of our judges. I think these concours events are starting to pop up all over the world, but doing something like that at IMS is very meaningful. I love to be able to see the exotic cars all the way back from the early ‘20s and ‘30s. There is so much to them. They’re colorful and busy, but at the same time they’re beautiful. They’re like art.”
TOM SNEVA: “It was good to be on that side; usually I’m in front of a judge. To be a judge was a pleasure, especially with some of the unbelievable cars in the show. I’ve done a lot of car shows, and there were a lot of spectacular cars out there. You have to give the Speedway some credit to come up with the car show idea. The classic cars that were here are some of the best in the world. It was very hard to make any decisions on the best cars out there.” (What are your fondest memories of the Speedway?): “Just being part of this race is a big thing. We’ve had some pretty good days here. The first time I qualified here in 1974 was one of the most lasting memories. The first 200-mph lap (1977) was a big day for us and, then of course, we go on and win the race. Just qualifying the first time and the 200-mph lap were the two biggest.” (What do you think of the new Dallara race car?): “We need to develop new race fans, so we have to go after the younger kids. The new car is good to get the new demographic group involved. It’s a swoopy, ‘Star Warsy’-looking type of race car, and that’s good for the younger group.”
INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE (cont.):
4:31 p.m. – YELLOW. Debris.
4:32 p.m. – GREEN.
4:44 p.m. – YELLOW. Track inspection.
4:53 p.m. – GREEN.
6 p.m. – CHECKERED. End of practice. #67 Josef Newgarden is fastest of day at 220.250 mph.
Car No. 67 has been the fastest on Opening Day each of the last two years. Ed Carpenter led the first day of practice on May 14, 2011, while rookie Josef Newgarden was fastest today.
2006 Firestone Indy Lights champion Jay Howard, who made his first Indianapolis 500 start in 2011, visited the track today to pursue opportunities for a seat in this year’s race.
JAY HOWARD: “You know, stranger things have happened. Over these last four weeks of the roller coaster – it looked like it was going to happen, wasn’t going to happen, was going to happen – and then with all the other drama that May brings, we’re still hopeful. You never stop working on it, but we’ll have to wait and see. It’s funny, I used to carry my helmet and gear everywhere, no matter if I went to Florida or Texas, wherever. If I wasn’t in a car, I’d carry my gear but never got the opportunity to get in a car. The first time I didn’t take my gear, I got a call. So now I’m not taking my gear anywhere. I guess that’s my little superstition.”
FASTEST TIMES/SPEEDS OF PRACTICE:
Pos. Car Name Time Speed
1. 67 Josef Newgarden* 40.8627 220.250
2. 4 JR Hildebrand 40.9662 219.693
3. 39 Bryan Clauson* 40.9776 219.632
4. 19 James Jakes* 41.2304 218.286
5. 11T Tony Kanaan 41.3335 217.741
* -- Rookie
INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE QUOTES:
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 50T Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “We’re just shaking the spare car down today. It feels OK. We haven’t really done any work on it yet, just shaking it down. Tomorrow we’ll do the same with the primary Target car and go from there.”
JAMES JAKES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “We haven’t done a lot yet. I guess everyone is waiting around because nobody really wants to show their hand at the moment. We’ll see how it goes. Today we were trying to work a little bit on the Race Day setup. I think we’ve got a pretty good car here. We weren’t looking at qualifying stuff yet. We’ll probably try to do that in the midpoint of next week. During the shakedown, we wanted to make sure everything was how we thought it would be, and it was. I’m pretty confident. I think we can get the car into the top 10. It’s a quick car, and I think we can get up to the front. Hopefully, we can put together a good month.”
BRYAN CLAUSON (No. 39 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing/RW Honda): “I don’t know that it could have gone much better. Those SFHR boys prepared a fast Honda race car for us for this month. We were really quick out of the gate. The fastest laps can be misleading because of the tow you catch, but even by ourselves, Josef and I were very quick all day. It will be interesting to see as the month goes on where guys end up. It’s hard to tell whose flat-out at this point and who is not. But I felt really good about our car and the program we have in place for the rest of the month.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): “The guys at SSM did a great job understanding what I need to feel comfortable. We did one run, and then came back in and made a few changes. Then we went back out, and the car was just magic. So I’m very, very happy to be that comfortable that quickly. We ran in traffic, and it all felt good.”
MIKE CONWAY (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “We’re running a brand-new ABC Supply car, so we shook it down just to make sure there were no problems. Tried to get a good feel for what the car was doing, made some changes, and we found some things so it was good. Today wasn’t about speed for us. We’d learned a few things between Rookie Orientation and today, which we needed to verify on track. As the week rolls on, then that’s when the real work starts. Tomorrow we’ll be out as soon as we can and learn as much as we can to try to find some speed.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ Honda): “We did a couple of runs today; that was our plan. We made a few changes, and the car feels good. So we’ll do a few more laps in the Sonny’s BBQ car tomorrow and keep working on it. We’ll keep chipping away these next seven days and try to get a little bit faster. We’ve got a good baseline setup, and I’m really enjoying my time in it. We came here to test and had a really good car, and from that test on we were much better. I think we’re starting to understand it and work it out now.”
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 98 Team Barracuda-BHA Honda): “I need to take my hat off to the Team Barracuda – BHA crew because the guys worked until 2 a.m. last night to get us ready to run today. Mission accomplished. The car feels good, and it’s great to be back with the Honda family again. It’s almost like we never left. It was a good first day. Basically, this was kind of like the first, real oval test that we’ve run, and I was quite surprised how quickly we got up to speed and how quick the car was right away. I’m very excited to see where we can stack up as we try to get a run for the pole. I have a great engineer and great group of guys behind me, so I’m definitely looking forward to the month of May here in Indy.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9T Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “Basically, today we just ran the Target T car and give it a shakedown. So far, so good, and that’s the way we wanted it on Opening Day.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central Honda): “Overall, we had a good day today with the Service Central guys. It really was just kind of a brief day and just trying to get the car up to speed. It felt really good right away, and we’ll just keep working the rest of the week. There’s no panic at this point. I think everything feels solid, so we’ll just focus on making sure we have a good race car here in the early parts and work on getting a fast qualifying car later in the week.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83T NovoLog FlexPen Honda): “It was a good day at the Speedway. Opening Day, it’s important to get the month off started off right. All credit to the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing guys. We came here with the new car and a good foundation. We made some good changes, and the No.83 NovoLog FlexPen car just got quicker throughout the day. The weather looks good for the rest of the week, so we’ll have a lot more track time than we have tires or mileage. But we’ll be focusing on race stuff until the middle of the week and then start turning it around and getting ready for qualifying. It was good to put miles on the backup car today, but it’s great to be back at the Speedway.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): “It was a good tow lap. The guys have worked long and hard to figure out what our plan of attack was going to be, and I think that’s what’s going to be what it takes to be successful this year. There’s a lot of new things for us with the chassis and the motors. I think having a methodical approach in how to make the car quicker and the sensitivity to adjustments this year is going to be more important than in years past.” (Do you feel rushed with the amount of track time?): “I think it’s hard not to feel kind of rushed. But I think one of the things we learned last year was taking your time and feeling out your troubles and let things come to you. I think that’s what made our month easy. Easy in a relative sense. But we saw the advantage in taking things slowly and with the way the weather is going to look, we may be able to take advantage of that this week, as well.”
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus HVM Racing Lotus): “I think it was a good first day for the No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy car. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that much running. The car was pretty good, but it will feel better when we have more speed.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 11T GEICO/Mouser Electronics KVRT Chevrolet): “It was a good day. We were just trying to get everybody into the Indy 500 mood. We ran the T-car (backup car) today to make sure everything was all right, and we have no concerns there. It was a smooth day.”
E.J. VISO (No. 5 CITGO/PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “The Indianapolis 500 Mile Race is the most famous and respected race in the world, so you always look forward to first day of practice and running laps on this track. We had a good, productive day, and I am very happy and excited that our first day went exactly as we planned. We achieved everything we needed to today. The setup on the car was pretty stable, so I am looking forward to trying some new things tomorrow.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): “It was definitely a bummer to not run the Go Daddy car on Opening Day, but it’s all part of the bigger plan and the bigger picture. With the number of tires we have for the month, we decided to save them for when the track is a little more rubbered-in. One of the benefits of having a five-car team is that we had teammates on track today to get a little data for us. So we have some data from the cars and engines and have something to start getting to work on and can build on that right off the bat before we even turn a wheel. It will hopefully put us in a better position tomorrow, when we do finally get on track. I’m looking forward to getting out there and getting some laps in on this beautiful racetrack.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team RC Cola Chevrolet, drove today in No. 17 Team AFS Chevrolet and No. 25 Team Ipiranga cars): “I’m anxious to get out there tomorrow in the 26 car (Team RC Cola Chevy). I thought the (No. 17 car) was pretty good and had good pace for what the wing settings were, so that's very encouraging to me. I think we're going to be fast, and I can't wait.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet): “It's hard to stand by and watch. We're saving some tires by waiting until tomorrow, and I'm eager to see what kind of speed we'll have based on what we learn today with my teammates Marco (Andretti) and Seb (Sebastian Saavedra). It's great to be back here at Indy, and to just be here to see the crowds and feel the energy. It's pretty special.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 Team AFS Chevrolet): “Today was a very good day on the track. It is so much easier when you have a good car right out of the box. I felt very confident when Marco (Andretti) went out to do a shakedown on the car. He basically went flat out on the first lap, so he was able to give me great feedback. That gave me a good starting position. From that point on, we just tried to make ourselves comfortable. I worked to understand the new car and also the new people that I’ll be working with. Overall, I am very excited to be in an Indy car again.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): “The team has done it all year. People have seen before that they can produce a good road/street car, and there’s no issues oval-wise. They’ve built really good, reliable, comfortable race cars for me, and they’re doing the same for Bryan now. That’s all it is, really. They make our job really easy, and I think that’s what you guys are seeing. It bodes well, if anything, it’s not really a big deal to be quick on this day, but it speaks well for the team. I think the team deserves that credit. I’m really happy for them that they get the credit because they do deserve it. They do a good job, and I’m proud to be with them.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “We ran more than we planned today. We aren’t where we want to be. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t really disappointed about where we were today. We have been working really hard coming into this weekend. But I feel we weren’t ready for today. I think it showed on the time charts and how the car felt. Our guys and myself are going to be working hard tonight to rebound strong for Sunday’s runs. It is too important to us to have another day like today. We didn’t get the time in here at the test that we wanted due to some issues that day. And it would have been a nice baseline from the test to start this weekend with your practice runs.”
RUBENS BARRICHELLO (No. 8 BMC/Embrase KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “My day was very straightforward. We didn’t' have the speed for some reason as I had the same setup as my teammates. However, it is very good we have had this at the beginning of the week, so we can analyze and see what’s wrong. I felt comfortable in the car and improved my speed from ROP on Thursday, but it is not as fast as what we had expected. We have a lot of work to do for tomorrow and the rest of the week.”
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 25 Team Ipiranga Chevrolet): “We were looking forward to running today, but some fixes on the car took longer than expected and we ran out of time. At least Marco (Andretti) was able to do a shakedown, and it looks like everything will be good for tomorrow. I can't wait to run around IMS with my Ipiranga Andretti Autosport car.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): “It was a short day of work with a long amount of time waiting, which is natural. It was the very first day of practice, and we obviously rebuilt the car for the oval, and the boys did a fantastic job. I am so pleased to see all the functions working really well. Michel did a great job through his first day of practice, which produced the basic setup from April. And he developed it nicely. I only did three timed laps, but the car felt good, which is important for the first day. The conditions were definitely good because it was the end of the day, and more than 500 laps of rubber was on the track and the temperatures were cooler, so I expected to be quick. I look forward to beginning to work on the setup.”
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (No. 30 Office Depot/RLL Racing Honda): “We started off exactly where we finished Thursday. We just trimmed the car a couple of times to gradually get it to the setup we are going to run. We are doing it slowly to maintain our confidence. Unfortunately we had a cut in the left rear, so we had to use more tires than we wanted, but I am happy to get through the first official day. We are better than I thought we would be at this point, so I am happy about that.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “This was a good start for Verizon Team Penske. We did what we normally do to start the month of May and will head in the right direction with the car set up. Just a good first day.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet): “The Shell Pennzoil car was really good today; it was a great start. The three of us will continue to work together, so we can get the best result both in qualifying and the race.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet): “Good first day in the IZOD car. It was the first time on the track in the new car and with the Chevy engine, and things felt good. We will start working through the changes, and hopefully the car will keep responding well.”
Twenty-six drivers have been on the track to date and turned 693 laps today and 693 laps this month. Josef Newgarden turned 46 laps today, most of any driver. There were six cautions for a total of 32 minutes today.
SUNDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local):
8 a.m. Garages open
Noon-6 p.m. Indianapolis 500 practice
- Fri, May 16
Carpenter Tops 230 MPH on 'Fast Friday'
- Fri, May 16
Points, Pits, Prestige: Qualifying Importance Grows
- Fri, May 16
Racing Legends To Be Inducted Into Racing Hall of Fame
- Thu, May 15
Castroneves Passes 227 MPH in 'Fast Friday' Preview
- Thu, May 15
Hinchcliffe Cleared To Resume Driving Duties
- MORE HEADLINES