It’s Day 5 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway leading up to the 97th Indianapolis 500 Mile race, and so far, the overall top speed is 225.100 (turned on Day Three by IZOD IndyCar driver, MARCO ANDRETTI/Andretti Autosport, whose car number is 25.) Best of all – no one has hit the wall.
The weather has run the gamut. The weekend started out cold, foggy, windy and rainy to Wednesday’s near 90 degrees F ambient and 130 degrees F on the track. The forecast for the rest of the week is more of the same – warm/hot with possible thunderstorms.
In all five days of practice, a total of 42 cars have been on the track. The only entered named driver who hasn’t been on track is 2000 IRL Indy 500 winner, BUDDY LAZIER/Lazier Partners Chevrolet, but he’s expected to drive Thursday.
The teams are allowed one engine at a time, so if the team wants to set up and check out the T/backup car, the engine has to be removed from the primary, installed in the T car, and then back again. So far, the only team with all cars clearing Tech Inspection is Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
The Rookies have all passed their tests. The fastest was A.J. ALLMENDINGER/Team Penske Racing Chevrolet, at 219.239 mph. ‘Dinger isn’t exactly a rookie Rookie, but it’s been several years since he’s raced an open wheel car. That changed this year when ROGER PENSKE offered him an Indy 500 ride, with two others leading up to it (Long Beach and Barber) and now the addition of the Detroit race.
CARLOS MUNOZ, the current points leader in the Firestone Indy Lights Series racing for Andretti Autosport, is running a fifth IndyCar for Andretti, and was the second fastest Rookie, at 216.987 mph. TRISTAN VAUTIER/Lucas Oil/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda is the only Rookie to run the entire season, and his top time was 214.747mph.
CONOR DALY/AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda is also a Rookie, and had the most interesting weekend. He was off in Barcelona Spain racing and placing in GP3 on Saturday and Sunday (P3 and P5); so after an overseas flight home, young Daly took his Rookie test Monday, with PIPPA MANN/Dale Coyne Racing Honda, who was taking her Refresher laps. Daly arrived sans luggage and the mandatory HANS device. As befitting the younger set, the social media-savvy 21-year old tweeted his situation and was quickly offered a loan by his good buddy, Andretti, via Twitter. So all’s well that ended well.
Rookies are allowed four sets/16 extra tires for their Rookie Orientation Program session. The Refresher Program drivers get an additional two sets/eight tires for their session.
Two drivers are eligible for extra tires for their Refresher Program. PIPPA MANN/Dale Coyne Racing Honda ran her session Monday with Daly. She ran a 212.003 mph, while Daly turned 210.845 mph.
Lazier is the other Refresher driver. The criteria for this category – as determined by BEAUX BARFIELD, INDYCAR president of competition/race director, is a driver who didn’t run last year’s Indy 500. So, this means one-off Indy 500 drivers, MICHEL JOURDAIN/Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda and TOWNSEND BELL/Panther Racing Chevrolet, don’t need Refreshing.
Thursday’s schedule calls for more of the same – practice noon-6pm.