Day One of the Merry Month of May continued at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the Autonomous to the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500. The theme is “The Greatest Legends in Racing!” The weather Friday was deceptively sunny, with a frigid wind chill factor, which kept all the Gasoline Alley garage doors shut. Not so much for privacy, but warmth. There wasn’t much to see as the teams were beavering away behind closed doors.
A couple of teams had just enough car parts outside their garage to pique one’s curiosity about the so-called ‘one-off’ cars which will be running the Indy 500. Examples were the bright greens and orange of the Juncos team entry for Sebastian Saavedra. Nearby blue and white livery on Harding Racing’s No.88 Chevrolet for Gabby Chaves was being set up. And one can’t miss the Pippa pink pieces outside Dale Coyne Racing.
Practice Two for the Verizon INDYCAR Series was early afternoon, 61 degrees F and a biting cold 12 mph wind. All cars went on course and for a brief while Max Chilton/No.8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Honda led the field. It wasn’t long before another new track record was set by Will Power/No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet – 1:07.7684. As the session progressed, only one driver was faster in the morning session – Carlos Munoz/No.14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet. Perhaps it was because he spun out sideways and coasted at speed into the grass, stopping short of the tire wall.
The 45-minute session was interrupted for a Red Flag when Ryan Hunter-Reay/No.28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda ran out of fuel on the back stretch. Other than that, there was almost no drama in the session. To illustrate how prosaic it was, one of only a couple of talking points seemed to be the brief wheel touch by Simon Pagenaud/No.1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet Alexander Rossi/No.98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Honda. Both cars continued, and Rossi moved up to fourth position at that point. Afterwards, Rossi said “He was leaving the pits, and we were on our first lap on reds (the alternate Firestone compound tires). He stayed on my end in Turn Seven. Fortunately, it’s practice. It doesn’t matter. We always try and give each other space, but it was practice, so it doesn’t matter.”
Power’s fast time held, so he was again on top. Second and third were teammates Josef Newgarden/No.2 hum by Verizon and Juan Pablo Montoya/No.22 Fitzgerald Gilder Kits. Fourth and fifth were Rossi and another Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves/No.3 Verizon.
Conor Daly/No.14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Chevrolet moved up to tenth in P2, after finishing last in P1.
There was a verbal preview of Saturday’s Challenge Race between Sam Schmidt and Mario Andretti were the two, who engaged in verbal jousting in the Media Center. At previous Indy 500 weekends, Schmidt, a disabled race driver/team owner, has driven his specially modified Arrow Electronics Corvette Stingray in exhibition laps. This year he will race SAM (Semi-Autonomous Motorcar) on the IMS road course. Schmidt’s Driver Assistant the past two years has been Robby Unser. Not sure who might be with Andretti. Andretti and Schmidt have yet to clarify just what is on the line in their own personal bet – maybe has something to do with a ride in the 2018 Indy 500?
At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum there is “A.J. Foyt A Legendary Exhibition,” celebrating his 60-year involvement in the Greatest Spectacle in Motor Racing. The four-time Indy 500 winner, who has been involved in one form or another in every Indy 500 for the past sixty years, personifies American racing. He is perhaps the only driver who ever has or ever will start 35 consecutive Indy 500’s as a driver. He’s fielded an Indy 500 team for the past 35 years. Foyt is the only driver who has won the Indy 500, the Daytona 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans (with Dan Gurney.) In his 21-year IndyCar racing history, he won 67 races. The exhibit includes 35 of his race cars and much, much more.
I continue to have major connectivity issues which plague my posting. Sorry.