Thursday Indy 500 Practice

The weather on Thursday couldn’t have been better for Indianapolis 500 practice. The sun was shining all day, with little to no wind. A full six hours of on-track activity allowed teams to try different setups and strategies for the upcoming race on May 29. The Andretti Autosport team finished on the top of the speed charts on Monday and Wednesday, but it was another Honda team that took that honor today. Dale Coyne Racing driver Gabby Chaves held the top spot on Thursday, with a lap of 227.961 mph. The top four cars were all Honda powered, with Townsend Bell, Carlos Munoz, and Conor Daly behind the wheel.

There were a total of 2,563 laps turned on Thursday, without any serious incidents. The only noteworthy concern was the smoking car of Ryan Hunter-Reay just after 4 PM. The best part of the day came when Spencer Pigot made it out on track for an install lap, as the crew had put together his backup car with a new engine. He will be able to practice tomorrow, which is key for the Rookie driver as he looks for ample track time.

Thursday Indianapolis 500 Practice Results

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For Chaves, it was a rewarding day. He was without a ride until a couple of weeks ago, and now the 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year is showing his speed. His Dale Coyne Racing teammate Conor Daly unveiled his new livery this afternoon, with the red white and blue ShirtsForAmerica.com machine. Alexander Rossi has also done a color swap for the race. His Andretti Autosport Honda dropped the black and white look for a blue and yellow combination. The team plans to announce their sponsor tomorrow.

Much like Monday and Wednesday, the track was extremely busy, with a large group of cars often working together in traffic. While Honda has held the top spot on each day of practice, the No Tow Speed report tells a different story. Three of the top four cars on that chart were all Chevrolet drivers. Will Power was first, followed by Graham Rahal, then Scott Dixon, and Juan Montoya. That will be the focus for tomorrow’s practice session. Fast Friday practice will run from Noon until 6, followed by the draw for qualifying positions at 6:15 PM.

Practice Photos

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Driver Quotes

Juan Montoya: “The Verizon Chevy ran well today. We had a little bit of a problem there earlier, but we made some changes and were able to make progress towards the end of practice. We’re getting up to speed, ending practice much faster than we did previously. Honestly, I’m very happy with where we’re going right now.”

Helio Castroneves: “It was another good and productive day for the Pennzoil Chevy crew. We were working on race setup. We haven’t even touched the qualifying setup. Tomorrow is a new game, though. We’re going to have more boost. Everybody is going to have more boost. So, speeds are going to increase and looking forward to focusing on qualifying tomorrow.”

Buddy Lazier: “We got some good running in today. We cycled through some aero bits, working on our race setup. All in all it was a pretty good day. I’m looking forward to Fast Friday and I feel as though my team and I are working well together.”

James Hinchcliffe: “Today was another productive day in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car. We checked a lot of things off the list. We got a little bit lost near the end of the day but then right at the end, the guys made a great change to the car and it really came alive. We’re slowly getting a handle on the car in race trim and tomorrow we’re switching gears to get ready for Fast Friday, and trimming this thing out for qualifying.”

JR Hildebrand: “We got a lot of running in today. We’re trying to get ready for qualifying. Today there’s sort of a mixture of qualifying stuff and race stuff.  We’re getting ready for Fast Friday tomorrow, which will be entirely qualifying preparations. We’re just trying to collect as much data as we can and get ready to rock and roll when we get some extra horsepower tomorrow.”

Mikhail Aleshin: “Practice was good today. I think all the SPM teams were really competitive and I think we found a good point to start from in the No. 7 DOOM/SMP Racing car. The weather looks like it will be the same tomorrow and it will be a new day. Hopefully we’ll get to practice some more with the boost and go to the top of the chart.”

Max Chilton: “This morning the first few hours we drove with race downforce levels, then spent the next few hours turning the car around to qualifying specs. I did my first-ever oval session in qualifying spec, and did three runs and kept taking more and more downforce off. The last run was really good and then we spend the last part of the day working on race running, so I’m happy where things are at with the Gallagher team.”

Scott Dixon: “We were better today with the Target car. We ran some of last year’s stuff, or close to it, and the car was much better overall. We did some race running and then some qualifying running. Overall in the laps for outright speed we were around second or third so we’re happy with that.”

Tony Kanaan: “Another solid day of practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet. We did a lot of work today out on track with qualifying and race setups and I was really happy with where the car was for both. We’ll really focus in tomorrow on our qualifying runs and setup to get it exactly where it needs to be for this weekend.”

Sebastien Bourdais: “I feel a little better today. The Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing Team struggled through this numbness with the car and no responsiveness. Then we hit something that was very sensitive (with the setup). The car is not perfect by any means, but it seems to be pretty solid on our own and in traffic we managed to find a little bit of front grip without destroying the rear. So, I am happy with that. We will regroup tonight, think about it, try and make it better then obviously, make the transition to qualifying mode. That is what we need to get after.”

Will Power: 
“We had some good runs out there today. We definitely made some gains and have a little bit more to go, as we’re still making adjustments for the coming days. I’m pretty confident that the Verizon Chevrolet will be in good shape for qualifying and the weather conditions are supposed to be good, too, so that helps, as well. So, getting another practice in tomorrow should get us where we need to be.”

Takuma Sato: “We had to be patient, but I think I was relieved in the end. We were able to learn – all three cars were trying different philosophies, and it was a good day in that each car was headed in its own direction. Now we need to gather all the data together and settle on one direction. It was a productive day, it was short on track time – spent a lot of time in the garage – but it was productive.”

Graham Rahal: “Ultimately we ended up second-fast on the no-tow list, which was good since we only really did one qualifying simulation. I was pleasantly surprised at the pace of the car because we are nowhere near fully trimmed out so to see the speed of it was definitely a good thing. We worked most of the day on the race car. After yesterday I was pretty nervous about what it looked like for us from a race car standpoint and the Steak ‘n Shake car came to life today for sure – it was miles and miles better. I’m really pleased with where we stand at the end of the day because today we were 24th and the last couple of days we’ve been in the top-10, but this was by far the best car we’ve had the entire time so I’m pretty excited about it.”

Spencer Pigot: “I feel good. I only had to suffer through a split moment of pain, and the guys have been working hard for the whole last 24 hours so I feel much worse for them. They have had to rebuild the whole car but they did a great job and got us out for an install lap which was important so we could go through everything and make sure we are ready to go tomorrow and get some track time, which is very much needed. I just can’t thank them enough for their hard work.”

Gabby Chaves: “It’s only practice, but it feels pretty good. It’s my first time at the top of the charts here at IMS in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Just pleased with the work the team has been doing. Very pleased with the performance that Honda has been putting out, as well. Overall I think we’ve got a pretty strong package.”

Ed Carpenter: “It was kind of a tough day. We chased a lot of issues. We had a gearbox problem part of the day and never really got it solved, we just worked around it. Not the Thursday we were hoping for, but we did finally get some race runs in at the end and it made me feel a little better. I think the car is in a pretty decent place. Handling-wise, I was relatively happy. You always have to make improvements here and there, but we’re just struggling to find the speed in it. We’ll keep looking on our end and see what we can come up with. Obviously, we’ll get some help tomorrow with power so we’ll see how it goes.”

Josef Newgarden: “Another productive day. No big dramas, so that’s good. I think we got a good program going and we’ll try to keep it solid for tomorrow. Get some good boost and see where we’re at. I feel good. We worked a lot on race run and it should be pretty decent in traffic. Now we have to make it fast by ourselves.”

Simon Pagenaud: “It was a good day. It was a long day. We did a lot of laps. I’m really happy; I think we found something that I like in traffic. We did a bit of qualifying run, but we didn’t spend too much time on it. I just need to iron the details on the car. I think the Menards Chevrolet is really good in traffic and I can be aggressive. I think it’s a really good sign for the race. Tomorrow is Fast Friday, so we’ll work on qualifying and see how much speed we can get out of the No. 22 car.”

Sage Karam: “Today we tried a different direction on setup for our race car, and we can take plenty of notes from it – what to do, what not to do going forward. I think we have a good direction of where we want to go with the No. 24 Gas Monkey Energy Chevy for the remainder of the month. I think tomorrow we’re gonna go out with what we think will work and find a baseline to work from. Being that it’s Fast Friday tomorrow, the speeds are going to be a bit quicker, and we’re going to be working on more qualifying simulations tomorrow. We’ll just pick away at that as the day goes and hopefully at the end of the day we can work more on the DRR-Kingdom race car and get the thing ready for May 29.”

Stefan Wilson: “It was a really productive day, we got a lot of track time. We made a lot of changes, I feel like we found some that were good, some that were bad. At the end of the day I feel like the Driven2SaveLives No. 25 was running pretty good and it’s probably the most comfortable I’ve felt all month. I’m really excited to come back tomorrow for Fast Friday with the extra boost and see what it’s like there.”

Carlos Munoz: “Another long day of practice, that’s for sure. We were really concentrated on the car since the temperatures of the track were really similar to what the temperatures should be on race day. We worked on the car and I was very happy with the work we have done. I think we have good speed – I think that showed. The last few days we have always ran in the top. I think we have a good United Fiber & Data car for the race so tomorrow we just need to focus on qualifying.”

Marco Andretti: “The benefit of a long practice week at Indy is that we have the opportunity to work on things in a few different way. We can focus on qualifying, the race, running in traffic, running alone – and that’s what we’re going through now. We spent some time today just checking off boxes in all areas.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay: “I had a pretty decent day going – working through race setups and running in lots of traffic. I was pretty happy with the car for the most part. We had a mechanical issue as we were getting ready to start another traffic run, and it’s unfortunate because we had a pretty quick DHL race car going.”

Townsend Bell: 
“Obviously (we) had a nice tow this morning, but worked a lot on race setup all day and made a lot of gains. Really proud of my team of guys that have come together to support this fifth car one-off entry with Andretti, and also really thankful to be part of a five-car program where there’s so much information to learn and reanalyze what I do and all of that. Also the chance to run with them in traffic repeatedly is, I think, helping me a lot.”

Alex Tagliani: “Again, we made some progress today. Changes that we made continue to improve the car quite a bit. In traffic, the car seemed to be racier. We did an evaluation of the car at various points on our own, with heavy fuel tanks, running with massive packs of cars in front of us, then less. I think we’re in the ballpark; the car has really good potential. There are a few things I’d really like to see from the car for race conditions. It’s the best day we’ve had so far even though we didn’t run many laps. I’m really happy the guys kept working at it, and avoided some issues and missteps we had this morning. Everybody kept their head down to salvage a good day.”

Jack Hawksworth: “We went out this morning in the No. 41 ABC Supply car and it was our first time running in the new engine. We worked on the car, worked on getting the balance right for race traffic. By the end of the day, found a pretty decent set up to run in. Now we need to plan for tomorrow. Obviously tomorrow is qualifying prep for Saturday. We will put this map [race trim] in our pocket and we will work on it Monday.”

Charlie Kimball: “Yeah, I think we’re pretty good. The No. 42 has been decent. It’s kind of weird saying the No. 42 rather than the No. 83, but the No. 42 has been pretty good in traffic, and we worked a lot on the race car today. I think at the moment it’s pretty tough. The conditions were fairly good. The weather was nice, the wind not terrible, but I think we’re fighting from a little bit of a hole here.”

Matt Brabham: “We’re still working away, trying to get some more out of the car – it was good to put in 97 trouble free laps around the Speedway today. We were plodding away today to get more experience on how the race car should be. We still have some more work to do on the race car. We have to compare some data with our teammates and see what they are doing and what we might be able to learn from that.”

Pippa Mann: “We’ve been working really hard on our race car. Last year we had a really good car until I made a mistake and smashed it into a million pieces, which is not recommended at all. We’ve got a great team here – we’ve got a strong team of four cars. We’re all learning off one another and we’re working really hard with our cars. And so far we seem to be going in the right direction with them.”

Oriol Servia: “Today we accomplished what we wanted, which was to do lots of laps. On Tuesday it was raining and yesterday we did a long change, so we didn’t get to run much. Today, we evaluated a lot of things and we gave the engineers what they were asking for: a lot of data. Now they need to look at it and see which combination works best. I was quite happy with the No. 77 Jahia/Lucas Oil car at some times of the day. Some others, not so much. This car is very temperamental in the wind and it was windy today, so some moments were a little difficult. I’m quite happy, though. I think Honda is doing a great job. I think we have the speed that we asked for from them and we still have a few days to figure out the perfect setup.”

Alexander Rossi: “It was another positive day. Again, I think if you look at the no-tow list we are P5, just a couple tenths of a mile per hour out of the top – so I think that is pretty positive. That is all going to change tomorrow with the increased boost level, so we’ll start from scratch and carry forward the positive efforts and progress we have made over the past few days.”

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