The Monday practice session schedule at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was changed more than once for the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indy Lights Series. The noon Indianapolis 500 practice session was halted after the accident of James Hinchcliffe/No.5 Arrows/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda.

James Hinchcliffe

It has been confirmed by Honda that it was indeed a mechanical failure which caused Hincliffe’s crash. It was the failure of the right-front suspension rocker arm, causing Hinchcliffe to lose control of his steering. He went into the wall at a 45 degree angle. Honda said it was the hardest hit of the Indianapolis 500 sessions. Hard like accidents pre-HANS devices and carbon fiber. The cause of the mechanical failure is yet unknown.

The latest INDYCAR update on Hinchcliffe’s medical condition is that he “is in stable condition and undergoing surgery at IU Health Methodist Hospital for an injury to the left upper thigh.

“Hinchcliffe was awake when he was transported by ground to the hospital following a single-car accident during practice for the 99th Indianapolis. The Canadian’s Schmidt Peter Motorsports car made heavy right-side contact with the Turn 3 SAFER Barrier. Additional updates to Hinchcliffe’s condition will be released when available.”

Meanwhile, the Monday schedule should have been written with a pencil with a good eraser. Mid-afternoon, INDYCAR announced IndyCar practice would resume at 4:15pm and run to 5pm ET, and Indy Lights practice would end at 4pm. Part way into the afternoon INDYCAR practice session, it was extended to 6pm, which tentatively moved the Indy Lights Series to a 6:15-7pm ET slot. Those schedules stuck.

Sage Karam's car

Sage Karam/No.8 Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Records Chevrolet topped the charts at the end of the session, with a lap of 227.831 mph.

Scott Dixon/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet had led most of the truncated session with a best time of 226.429 mph in traffic, until Karam pipped him.

Third through fifth were JR Hildebrand/No.6 Preferred Freezer CFH Racing Chevrolet; James Davison/No.19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda; and Tony Kanaan/No.10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

Stefano Coletti/No.4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet was the top Rookie, in twenty-third place.

Marco Andretti/No.27 Snapple Honda turned the most laps – 87, while Townsend Bell/No.24 Robert Graham Special Chevrolet opted for the other end of the spectrum, running six laps. Overall 1449 laps were run by twenty-eight drivers.

Helio Castroneves/No.3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet remains the fastest driver of all ten practice sessions at 233.474 mph, set in Practice Six. He’s run a total of 259 laps. Bryan Clauson/No.88 Jonathan Byrd’s/Cancer Treatment Centers of America Chevrolet has run the most laps overall – 460.

Those not out on track Monday were: James Jakes/No.7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda; Carlos Huertas/No.18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda; Oriol Servia/No.32 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda; and Conor Daly/No.43 FUELED by BACON Special Honda.

Traditionally, once a T/Backup car has qualified, the car number reverts to the primary number – no T.

Tony Kanaan

Kanaan visited the Media Center briefly after the session.

Some of the comments and questions were geared to his feelings and reactions to Hincliffe’s accident.

“First and foremost we need to understand that this is a very dangerous sport. Every time we hop in that race car, we don’t know if we’re going to come out of it, if you’re going to come out of it in one piece, if something’s going to happen to you. And that’s something we’re going to have to live with. I believe that.

“That’s what makes us different than other people. That’s why not everybody can do this. It’s never easy to see a friend of yours get hurt or lost a friend of yours. But this is the sport that we chose. And I believe … not trying to be rude to anyone in the field, but if people feel uncomfortable with that, you shouldn’t be in the race car.”

When asked if he had any safety concerns going into Sunday’s race, Kanaan didn’t hesitate. “We’re always going to have concerns. And when people crash, anything can happen I think it was four different accidents. I trust the engineers. I trust the guys who built the aero kits. Are we going to have 100 percent of all the answers that we wanted to have? No, but I don’t think we’ve ever had them and will ever have them. No, I am not concerned.

“I’m ready to put on a good show for the fans who are coming her to watch us. Accidents happen. We hate that, but it’s part of our job.”

Addressing the question many are asking: his reaction to INDYCAR’s action on the flips. Should they have reacted at all. Kanaan said “It’s tough to say. I think they talked to the engineers. That would be a question for Derrick (Walker – INDYCAR President Competition & Operations) and not to me. I just drive the race car. I trust what my engineers tell me and I trust what Chevy told me. I think my opinion is irrelevant because I would be talking about something I don’t understand. I understand that we crash, sometimes we have the risk to flip. Am I willing to take that risk. 100 percent.”

Each year one of the Coors Light Carb Day highlights is the Tag Heuer Pit Stop Contest. The 12 teams are entered based on their pit stop times since the previous year’s Indy 500. This year the teams are:
1 Will Power / Verizon Team Penske
2 Juan Pablo Montoya / Team Penske
5 James Hinchcliffe / Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
7 James Jakes/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
9 Scott Dixon / Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
14 Takuma Sato / A.J. Foyt Enterprises
15 Graham Rahal / Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
24 Townsend Bell / Dreyer and Reinbold – Kingdom Racing
27 Marco Andretti / Andretti Autosport
41 Jack Hawksworth / A.J. Foyt Enterprises
48 Alex Tagliani/ A.J. Foyt Enterprises
83 Charlie Kimball / Chip Ganassi Racing Teams

The competition is for the entire team – bragging rights as well as more tangible rewards. And no, I don’t know what is or will be the situation for the No.5 car. Watch this space.

Next up for the IndyCar drivers – Carb Day Friday 22 May 2015. That’s also the opening day for the new Paul Newman movie, “Winning.”