INDIANAPOLIS (May 12, 2015) – The expected gain in miles per hour from the superspeedway aerodynamic bodywork components on the Verizon IndyCar Series cars is becoming more evident with each practice day for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
Three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves showed he can go fast with and without a “tow” using the new aero kits. Castroneves posted the fastest overall lap as well as the best lap without the aid of cars cutting the air in front of him in the third practice session on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.
Driving the No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Team Penske Chevrolet, Castroneves clocked the quickest overall lap of 227.514 mph less than an hour into day. He returned in the closing 60 minutes, known as “Happy Hour,” to run a lap of 225.315 without a tow from cars in front.
Aero kits were introduced this season to Verizon IndyCar Series competition from manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda, and have helped set track records most everywhere the series has run in 2015. The Indianapolis 500 marks the first time the superspeedway kits have been in use, but their advantage is plain. Castroneves’ fast lap today, in just the third practice session, is already better than any lap posted through the first five sessions a year ago. And speeds are known to increase as the practice week progresses.
Castroneves, currently third in the championship standings behind teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power, said there is still work to be done that could achieve even more speedy dividends.
“It was a good day,” Castroneves said. “The Shell V-Power Nitro+ car was super strong, super solid, felt comfortable. Now we’ve got to just keep working with this new aero kit. Today was basically the second day that we’ve been working constantly, but I like what I see.
“Things are looking in the right direction. We’re not focused on just the lap, we’re focused on the performance of it all.”
Castroneves’ third Penske teammate, Simon Pagenaud, was second fastest overall at 227.382 mph in the No. 22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet, followed by Scott Dixon at 226.769 mph in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.
Justin Wilson, driving his second race for Andretti Autosport, was fourth overall and the quick Honda at 226.688, but his engine appeared to let go on the frontstretch of the 2.5-mile oval, putting an end to the six-hour session a few minutes early.
“I looked in the mirror and there was a lot of smoke coming out of the exhaust so, yeah, it’s unfortunate,” Wilson said. “I don’t know any more than that right now. But looking back over the day, I think we’ve had a pretty good day. The car’s been quick. We tried a couple of different setups that the team’s got going on. Both feel pretty good and quick.”
Practice resumes Wednesday through Friday at IMS, Friday’s session again expected to live up to its nickname of “Fast Friday” because manufacturers are allowed to increase turbocharger boost pressure from 130 kPa to 140 kPa, which will generate more horsepower and likely higher speeds.
Two days of qualifying Saturday and Sunday will set the 33-car grid for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” After that, all that’s left before the May 24 race is afternoon practice on Monday, May 18 and the traditional Carb Day one-hour practice on May 22.
Fuel Leak Causes Fire on de Silvestro Car
Andretti Autosport driver Simona de Silvestro was uninjured when the No. 29 TE Connectivity Honda she was driving during practice caught fire on the backstretch. A fuel leak was the culprit, according to a team spokesperson. De Silvestro exited the race car without assistance.
In 2011 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, de Silvestro suffered second-degree burns to her right hand in a practice crash. She went on to qualify and compete in the race. In 2010, she suffered minor burns to a finger on her right hand in a crash during the race at Texas Motor Speedway.
“It’s definitely unfortunate because the car is pretty burnt down, and it’s really frustrating that it seems like fire follows me,” de Silvestro said. “Maybe this time is third time’s the charm, and hopefully the team can get the car back together as quickly as possible. Until now, everything was working fine and it’s just annoying because it’s a pretty big setback for us.”
De Silvestro, seeking to compete in her fifth Indianapolis 500, had completed nine laps. She has a best finish of 14th at IMS and earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2010.
Carpenter Carrying Luck of the Bulldogs Again
Ed Carpenter has carried the Butler University logo to the pole position in the last two Indianapolis 500s. The 2004 Butler grad is hoping the Bulldog logo can bring him even more luck in the 99th Running of the “500” since his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet is carrying the logo again this May.
Carpenter, driver and co-owner of the car, gave Butler president James M. Danko, athletics director Barry Collier, men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann and mascot Butler Blue III a tour of the team’s garage this morning, explaining the new aero kits on the cars.
Holtmann, who led Butler to the third round of the NCAA Tournament in his first season as coach, was impressed with the amount of preparation that CFH Racing does for each day the car is on track.
“Unless you’re an avid fan, you probably don’t get all that goes into that one day,” Holtmann said. “It’s not unlike our sport (basketball). He’s trying to perform at a high level and it’s impressive to see. He could have gone on for two or three hours about the car.”
If Rahal Wins, MAVTV 500 Ticket Holders Can Win
If Graham Rahal wins the Indianapolis 500, fans can win, too – a free reserved ticket to the MAVTV 500 on June 27 at Auto Club Speedway, that is.
Fans purchasing a full-price reserved ticket to the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the 2-mile oval in Fontana, Calif., by noon ET May 24 will have the ticket cost refunded if Rahal, driver of the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, wins the 99th Indy 500. Reserved seats for the MAVTV 500, the 11th race on the 2015 schedule, start at $55.
INDIANAPOLIS 500 POST-PRACTICE QUOTES, MAY 12, 2015:
WILL POWER (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was definitely a productive day, and we found some speed in the No. 1 Verizon Chevy, for sure. We also got some running done in traffic and I feel great about the last change we made to the car. We’re in a good spot as we get closer to qualifying this weekend.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Team Penske Chevrolet, fastest of the day): “It was a good day. The Shell V-Power Nitro+ car was super strong, super solid, felt comfortable. Now we’ve got to just keep working with this new aero kit. Today was basically the second day that we’ve been working constantly, but I like what I see. Things are looking in the right direction. We’re not focused on just the lap, we’re focused on the performance of it all.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 6 Preferred Freezer CFH Racing Chevrolet): “It was good. We had limited running because we used one set of tires today. We had some other things we wanted to get done today like bodywork and stuff. We didn’t spend a lot of time on track, but I felt pretty good about the time we did spend on the track. It’s nice that the three of us – Ed (Carpenter), Josef (Newgarden) and myself – all essentially look for the same thing in a race car. We still gain from what they do when we are not out there. Everything went pretty smoothly, it was a windy day out there so it was good to get out and run a little bit just to get a sense of what that’s like should qualifying or race day be like that. I feel like we are on the right track. We will continue to run more as qualifying comes closer.”
SAGE KARAM (No. 8 Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Records Chevrolet): “Today was pretty straightforward in the Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Records car. We were close to mileaging out this Chevrolet engine and we used the remaining laps we had available to work on car setup. We went a couple different directions today in terms of setup and found the wrong way to go. So I’m looking forward to getting back out theretomorrow and picking up where we left off with a new engine.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “We struggled a bit with the Target car for most of the morning, specifically with the rear of the car and the way I wanted it to be in order to be comfortable. We worked on a lot of geometry with it and later on it seemed to come around to my liking. I think we made some decent progress and will keep working on things tomorrow if the weather holds up for us.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “We used today’s practice to work through some different setups to make sure I was good with how the car was feeling. It’s nice to have these long sessions to be able to look at different things and gather a lot of data to find the setup that works best. We want to make sure we find the right setup for the car before we start running for speed and using up all of our tires. I think we’re definitely close to where we need to be.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “Another windy day but it was colder so we had a different test menu from yesterday to try to understand the car more. We made some improvement, which was positive. At the end of the day we wanted to run in traffic but we had a small issue so we couldn’t achieve that one. I think we learned from running in small traffic today and it felt positive. Hopefully we will get some running in traffic tomorrow.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda): “All in all, it was a really good day. We worked on the Steak ‘n Shake car and really improved it a lot. Like I keep saying, I think the guys are doing an excellent job and working through a lot of things here and the car already feels a heck of a lot better than it ever did the last couple of years. I’m pretty happy with it, but we’ve got to keep working to catch those Penskes. They’re obviously pretty quick and we’ve just got to do the best that we can to keep up with them and be competitive and keep improving the car over time. We’ve got a long ways to go here so there is no reason for anyone to panic. The car feels pretty good in race trim.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 AFS Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “We’re using these first few practice sessions for both myself and the team to understand and really get comfortable with the new aero kits. We just want to make sure we’re all on the same page with the car, especially since I haven’t run as many laps as some of the other guys out there. I’m looking forward to getting many more laps in this week and seeing what we need to do to improve the car.”
JAMES DAVISON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “It’s a fantastic feeling to be back in an Indy car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was the windiest conditions I have driven in. I was quite fortunate last year to drive in very ideal conditions, so there was a lot more movement in the car than I had experienced before. We were regulated to run under 215 (mph) and I’m just really looking forward to getting on with our proper program tomorrow.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet): “It doesn’t feel too bad. It wasn’t as smooth of a day as yesterday. I’m pretty happy with the balance on the car. I’m not sure exactly where we are on speed, but this is the time of the week where I kind of get paranoid. We made the car a little better from yesterday so that’s all that really matters.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 21 Century 21 CFH Racing Chevrolet): “It was another day of learning. This place is so tricky. It’s just mentally difficult to figure out what you want and what you need in the car, but I think we found a lot of good things today. I feel a little better about what I’m doing inside the car now. I think we’ve got a pretty good practice to roll with and I think all three cars feel similar to that. Each day is a progression and we’ve just got to make sure we’re staying on the upside of that.”
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 24 The Robert Graham Special Chevrolet): “It was another good day for our team. I feel like we are in a window where we have a feel for what we might want on race day. And it was nice to get some pit stop practice in today as well. The Robert Graham Special feels very good so far and we are moving through our list of engineering items. We are still learning. These are still early days and we are trying to understand all of the aero data. We have a great group of guys who know how to get through that data. Looking forward to Wednesday now.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda): “I looked in the mirror and there was a lot of smoke coming out of the exhaust so, yeah, it’s unfortunate. I don’t know any more than that right now. But, looking back over the day, I think we’ve had a pretty good day. The car’s been quick. We tried a couple of different setups that the team’s got going on. Both feel pretty good and quick. I’m pleased with today. I think that the No. 25 Honda Andretti Autosport car is working well. I really enjoy working with Craig Hampson, my engineer, and I think there’s more to come. I think there’s a few tweaks we can try for going faster and also dealing better in traffic.”
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda): “I think today was another pretty productive day for us. We’re concentrating on long runs more than speed at the moment. It’s still early in the week and we still have three more days of practice. We’ll take it step by step. I still have some things to work on, and I’m happy we’ve been quick both days so far. Hopefully we’ll keep it up and improve a little bit more.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Snapple Honda): “There’s just been this sort of underlying characteristic that we’re trying to work out. We’re throwing kitchen sinks at it and it’s just there. We’ve ticked off so many boxes for two days – we’ve done a ton of work in two days and not making a ton of headway yet.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “It’s great to work with the teammates in race trim like we did today. We’re finding some answers on what we need and what we don’t. As usual we’ll keep up our teamwork and pull together to produce the best car that we can.”
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 29 TE Connectivity Honda): “It’s definitely unfortunate because the car is pretty burnt down, and it’s really frustrating that it seems like fire follows me. Maybe this time is third time’s the charm, and hopefully the team can get the car back together as quickly as possible. Until now, everything was working fine, and it’s just annoying because it’s a pretty big setback for us. But I have four great teammates and that will make it easier for us to continue moving forward.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 32 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): “It was more comfortable in the car because we were able to reduce understeer compared to yesterday, and improve the rear end which is exactly what the driver usually wants from the car. I think we were in the top five on the no-tow report so I think we are looking good. It’s only Tuesday so there are still a lot of things to try and a lot of days ahead to do things right, but I’m quite happy with where we are today.”
JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “Well, we had some issues today but we’ll get it sorted. Today we wanted to mileage out our engine and we were able to do that. Now the guys can put in the updated spec engine for tomorrow.”
PIPPA MANN (No. 63 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “Today was a really good day of running in the cooler conditions for the pink Dale Coyne Racing car supporting Susan G. Komen. We got through a fairly good-sized list of test items in the conditions today, and we set fairly good speeds. The handling is getting better every time we go out. I was really looking forward to the last run of the day as we were finally in a position to go run with a big pack of cars, but unfortunately, I only got one lap with those guys before we went yellow for the end of the day. In that one lap we already started to get a good read from the car, and it’s the best we have felt in traffic so far this month.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “We spent most of today working on the race car and its overall balance. We needed to close the loop on some things and find some grip but also find a little better balance. It was a tough day with the wind with it gusting pretty hard at times, but if we can run well in the wind, we should be able to run well in traffic. I think we made the car better and gave ourselves a little bit of margin and direction to take the No. 83 Levemir FlexTouch in for the rest of the week. We were really smart today with tires and were able to put ourselves in pretty good standing for the rest of the week with tire allocation. Hopefully tomorrowwe’ll be able to fill it up and actually do some race running.”