HELIO CASTRONEVES/No.3 Team Penske Racing Chevrolet led much of the afternoon before being passed by the 2013 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter, ED CARPENTER in No.20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet near the end of the session; but Castroneves went back out and broke the 227+ mph mark on lap 49 of his fifty laps. His time was 227.166 mph/365.58824 kph. This was the fifth day of practice for the 98th running of the Indy 500.
Castroneves, and many others including the media, are focused on qualifying as it gets closer to the weekend, and many still don’t quite understand the new format with more points. The only two seem to have understood the format were Carpenter and JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/No.27 Andretti Autosport Honda, who was brought to the post-practice interview, who had just run part of a lap – his first since his accident in last Saturday’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
Castroneves said “Anytime you are going for qualifying in Indianapolis it’s always very stressful. I always repeat myself because that is true. Rick Mears says that there are two types of races and it’s true – it’s the qualifying and the race. Now we are definitely going to go for Saturday and for Sunday, so that is going to be nerve racking, I tell you, because to go four laps out there in this place you guys don’t realize how tough it is. To do two days in a row it will be really tough.”
The five+ hour session was punctuated by nine cautions totaling 1 hour, 4 minutes and 21 seconds; and also two ‘shut downs’ for the Rookie Orientation Program testing for JAMES DAVISON/No.33 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet, and the Refresher laps for 1996 Indy 500 winner, BUDDY LAZIER/No.91 Lazier Partners Racing Chevrolet. By 5pm, Davison had passed Part Three and was allowed to practice for the Indy 500. He finished P33 with 63 laps. Lazier completed 18 laps and was glad it didn’t take that long for the rust to fall off.
Lazier’s crew includes Chief DENNIS La CAVA; Race Engineer DAVID CRIPPS-US Bobsled & Luge team at Sochi Olympics; and Olympians DALLAS ROBINSON and ABE MORLU.
Lots of laps were run Thursday despite all the stoppages. Several drivers hit triple digit numbers on the 2.5-mile speedway. TAKUMA SATO/No.14 A.J>Foyt Enterprises Honda spent the most time on course, with 50 laps. Lazier turned the fewest actual complete laps – 11. The last half hour of the session saw most drivers in the pits.
The returning Hinchcliffe turned one install lap on the checkered flag lap. His team had to do an engine change after temporary driver, E.J.VISO stopped with flames. Hinch’s description was “With three minutes to go, I was strapped into the car in the garage, drove two laps around Gasoline Alley and didn’t get dizzy, so I went on course.” A crew guy said the team was motivated to make the engine change quickly so that Hinchcliffe could get out on track, and said that it was just an Install lap, about 100 mph. The time wasn’t recorded as it wasn’t a completed lap.
Hinchcliffe had returned to the track mid-day after being cleared to race by IndyCar. Up to this point, the car had been driven by Viso, who had driven with Andretti last season. Viso drove forty laps thursday, with Lap 34 being his best at 222.782 mph.
Thursday’s fastest Rookie was KURT BUSCH/No.26 Andretti Autosport Honda, at 224.739 mph in P7. MIKHAIL ALESHIN/No.7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda is still the fastest Rookie overall, in P9, but Thursday he only ran 53 laps until he had, what the team described as a minor engine problem, and there was no engine change.
JACK HAWKSWORTH/No.98 BHA/BBM with Curb Agajanian Honda did get back into the car late into the session, for one very slow lap, putting him in last place for the day.
IMS Radio talent for Indy 500 qualifying and race include Chief Announcer, PAUL PAGE; former Indy car driver/team owner, ROBBIE BUHL; and IMS Historian, DONALD DAVIDSON.
Friday’s forecast calls for rain all day.