Verizon IndyCars finally made it on track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Indianapolis 500 practice at 12:45pm local time, nearly two hours later than had been planned, due to damp weather. The sun actually made a minor appearance.
The best news all day was that JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/No.27 Andretti Autosport Honda was cleared to resume racing by IndyCar Director of Medical Services, DR. MICHAEL OLINGER. Hinch was re-evaluated Thursday and passed his post-concussion ImPACT test. The always upbeat Canadian said “It goes without saying, I’m thrilled to be back in the United Fiber & Data car. It’s been a long couple of days watching everyone practice, but obviously getting healthy was the number one goal. I really want to thank everyone at INDYCAR Safety, INDYCAR Medical and IU Health for their great care. Also, to JIM LEO with PitFit Training for helping with the rehabilitation, and of course a big thanks to E.J. (VISO) and the team for all the hard work during practice. The car looks fast and I can’t wait to get out there and get up to speed.”
The plan is for Hinch to get back into his car Thursday afternoon.
Thirty-two drivers were on track, including Rookie JAMES DAVISON/No.33 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet, and Refresher BUDDY LAZIER/No.91 Lazier Partners Racing Chevrolet. Mid-afternoon, the track was ‘shut down’ twice for the two to have a fifteen-minute session of their own. Davison’s teammate, SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS/No.11 KVSH Racing, earlier shook down the car for 10 laps. Davison passed Parts One and Two of his ROP. What remains is Part Three – running in traffic.
No word yet from IndyCar officials as to the refreshing of Lazier.
One driver missing from the Thursday field (most of the day) was JACK HAWKSWORTH/No.98 BHA/BBM with Curb Agajanian Honda. He is fine, but his car is still being repaired with “a few bits and pieces” after Wednesday shunt into the Turn Three wall – the first incident of the Indy 500 week. Hawksworth said he “was OK, feeling sharp, and looking forward to getting back out on the circuit.”
Friday Jonathan Byrd Racing is making a driver announcement and updates on its plans to run the 2016 Indy 500, which it said would coincide with the 100th anniversary race. Byrd Racing has been around a long time
During the long green flag stretches, frivolity was taking place in the Media Center. STEVE SHUNK and his posse, aka Media Mafia, were showing off their latest annual sweatshirt honoring an Indy 500 winner from the sixties. This year it was three-time Indy 500 winner, BOBBY UNSER. In the past they have honored A.J.FOYT and JIM RATHMAN.
LOWER LEFT TO RIGHT: Steve Shunck, Shunck Productions; Marshal Pruett, RACER; Bob Gates, NSSN & author; Bobby Unser, driver; Dave Malsher, RACER; Dave Scoggin, radio & author; and Robin Miller, RACER.