Munoz Eclipses 230 mph as Speeds Climb during Indianapolis 500 Practice

INDIANAPOLIS (May 13, 2015) – Speeds continue to climb as Verizon IndyCar Series teams prepare for the 99th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

In a fast final 30 minutes, the fastest lap of the day exchanged hands four times among four drivers. When the checkered flag flew at 6 p.m. ET, Carlos Munoz had the fastest lap, 39.1098 seconds, 230.121 mph, in the No. 26 AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda – the first lap over 230 mph of the month.

Click HERE to view and download the results of Wednesday’s practice session and HERE to view and download the combined practice timesheet.

“Really, we were not looking for a tow, we just made a change and said, ‘OK let’s go in the group and see if we can just cop a tow and feel the car in traffic a little bit,” said the Andretti Autosport driver, who has finished in the top five in each of his two previous Indianapolis 500 starts. “I went back to the pack and it’s practice, so whoever gets the best tow is the one who is going to finish first. The positive thing is that I feel really comfortable with the car, the car feels OK. In traffic and by my own, I feel fast. We have to continue working, we have still two days of testing so we have to try some stuff.”

Sage Karam, Tony Kanaan and Townsend Bell took turns holding the top spot during the Happy Hour in Chevrolets. Bell’s lap (228.969) ranked second at the end of the day followed by Kanaan (228.172), James Davison (228.043) and Karam (227.822). Speeds are up this year in great part due to the new superspeedway aero kits developed by Chevrolet and Honda

“We’re staying in a tight little box, being a single-car program, only event of the year so far with the team,” said Bell, driving the No. 24 The Robert Graham Special Chevrolet entered by Dreyer & Reinbold-Kingdom Racing. “Trying to be pragmatic and just stay focused on the fundamentals. So far, so good. We hit the track pretty reasonable, thanks to (team managing director and former Indy car driver) Davey Hamilton for shaking down the car (on opening day May 3), I was in Monterey for a (sports car) race. Davey did a nice job to just work out the bugs for us and we were able to hit the ground running when we got here.”

The day was marred by a pair of single-car incidents that saw two popular drivers walk away without injury at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves had a spectacular crash in Turn 1 that saw his Team Penske Chevrolet hit the SAFER Barrier and become airborne just 45 minutes into the start of the day. Castroneves was able to return to the track just before it closed and turned a lap of 226.670 mph in a backup car.

Pippa Mann was also uninjured after her Dale Coyne Racing Honda made contact with the inside SAFER Barrier in Turn 4 and the pit wall attenuator that separates the track from the pit lane.

“I have to (say) thanks (for) all the messages (and encouragement) from the fans, and to Team Penske to put a car together and be back out there again,” Castroneves said. “The car was impressive. You can’t be scared when you go out there. I didn’t want to wait to run until tomorrow, and now we’ll focus on Thursday and Friday.”

Practice continues through Friday at IMS, Friday’s session again expected to live up to its nickname of “Fast Friday” because engine 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 and the traditional Carb Day one-hour practice on May 22.

DAY 4 NOTEBOOK

Tagliani honors new daughter in “500”

Alex Tagliani, who joined wife Bronte in welcoming their first child April 16, has a special tribute to his newborn daughter on his racing helmet at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The helmet is adorned with roses to honor Eva-Rose.

“She’s beautiful and special. It definitely makes you realize and appreciate what it takes to raise a child,” said Tagliani, who turned his first laps Tuesday on the 2.5-mile oval in the No. 48 Al-Fe Heat Treating Special Honda for AJ Foyt Racing.

“It’s the biggest accomplishment you can have in my thinking. The best description of fatherhood will never be the way it is until you live it.”

Tagliani, 41, will seek to make his seventh Indianapolis 500 start May 24.

“My wife says you have to be in it to win it,” said Tagliani, the 2009 race Rookie of the Year who earned the pole for the 2011 race and has a best finish of 10th after starting fifth in 2010. “I was able to live all the emotions of qualifying and Bump Day and Rookie of the Year, and in 2011 I got the pole. It’s the elusive win that you’re searching for. Being here means all of that and I’m thankful to Al-Fe and for Larry (Foyt) and A.J. to have selected me and giving me the chance.”

Verizon brings technology to Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Verizon Wireless, a technology leader with the nation’s largest and most reliable 4G LTE network, announced network upgrades at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to handle growing data traffic in May. Verizon Wireless is an official partner of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway and title sponsor of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

IMS is the largest network footprint in the country for a single event. The facility utilizes advanced technology that provides three times the total capacity of the network design for the 2012 Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Verizon network engineers have created a custom wireless network facility at the 560-acre venue to handle the voice and data capacity of the hundreds of thousands of fans expected to attend events this month. Also, an additional cell on wheels will be implemented for race weekend tailgaters and gate traffic near 30th Street and Georgetown Road outside the track.

“Verizon’s network enhancements will ensure that fans can count on their mobile devices to share emails, texts, pictures and videos during ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’ ” Verizon Wireless region president Lauren Love-Wright said. “Small cells are an integral part of Verizon’s commitment to the customer experience to stay ahead of the growing demand for mobile data by boosting capacity for popular venues and large crowds.

“This technology adds 4G LTE capacity in important high-traffic areas so that our customers can share the best moments from the track, especially on social media.”

On Race Day 2014, 4G LTE traffic on the Verizon Wireless network increased 300 percent over usage on Race Day 2013.

Of note

Chip Ganassi Racing Teams’ fifth entry for the Indianapolis 500 — the No. 17 AFS Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet driven by Sebastian Saavedra — will have Mike O’Gara as its race strategist. O’Gara, team manager of Ganassi’s sports car program, formerly was with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. … The No. 41 AJ Foyt Racing Honda driven by Jack Hawksworth and No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Teams Chevrolet driven by Sage Karam reached the 2,500-mile engine change-out threshold in practice Tuesday. Their second engines were installed for today’s practice.

INDIANAPOLIS 500 POST-PRACTICE QUOTES

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The (car) was definitely fast; we were even taking off. Not the way we would want to take off. I have to thank all the messages from the fans of encouragement, and to Team Penske to put a car together and be back out there again. The car was impressive. You can’t be scared when you go out there. I didn’t want to wait to run until tomorrow, and now we’ll focus on Thursday and Friday.”

ROGER PENSKE (Owner, Team Penske): “I think the ability of the team in five hours to put that (back-up) car together – we had to take the engine out of one car and take a lot of the pieces off – and get out for a few laps says a lot. It looks like we’re competitive; we ran 226 (mph). To me, it’s a good start for tomorrow.” (about the car getting airborne) “You’re always concerned when a car gets backwards; it looks a little bit like NASCAR the way the thing went up and went over. You can only test so much in your simulations and in a small wind tunnel, and I think this is something good to know now because we can look at it and see what are the right things to help all the cars that are on the track.”

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 6 Preferred Freezer / CFH Racing Chevrolet): “We had an all right day. We got out early and started trying to get a handle on what we’ll be looking at for the rest of the week. I thought it was okay and then the track started heating up at the end of the day. We felt like we still needed to figure some things out at that point. It’s all about collecting data and understanding how the car works. We’ve still got plenty of time this week so hopefully between the three of us we can squeeze a little bit of extra speed out of it and go from there. All in all I feel good about the way that we’re working together and I feel confident that we can work some of the bugs out and be right in the thick of it this weekend.”

SAGE KARAM (No. 8 Comfort Revolution / Big Machine Records Chevrolet): “We spent today mostly working on the race package for the No. 8 car. I didn’t do much running alone – I was just running in tight packs. When we started today, the car wasn’t where I wanted it to be balance-wise, but throughout the day we made big strides to get the balance to where I felt comfortable with it. By the end of the day, I was very happy with where the car was and I’m just ready to get back out tomorrow.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “We had a good day overall with the Target car. We had good speed in the car and we accomplished a lot. We did a few qualification simulation runs and changed some bodywork in between runs so we’re just going back and forth on some fine-tuning and setting things up for qualifying this weekend.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “Another good day for NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing. We were able to get some long runs in and we got some solid data to build on. We also were able to get in some runs working with Dixon during that last hour that helped us find a few more things we need to work on. The car has felt really good out there these first three days of practice, so I’m excited to see how much better we can make it before qualifying this weekend.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “Today was a very good day for our ABC Supply team. The wind dropped significantly unlike the last 2 days. Today the wind direction was different which was unusual for the speedway but it was very consistent so it was a perfect day for testing. We did lots of running today, trimming off for the first time to make the car fast and to see how the car reacted with low downforce. Then we added more downforce and went to the maximum to see how the car reacted in traffic. We were able to cover both ends of the spectrum-qualifying preparation and running in traffic so it was a very productive day. At the end we had a small issue in the drivetrain. I felt something a little strange so I backed off and pulled off the track. When we came back here we found the problem that caused it and so hopefully we have a trouble-free tomorrow.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda): “Today was a really good day. The Steak ‘n Shake car was pretty good and we had a really good long run near the end with full fuel. It was kind of a race simulation and the car was really strong. We’re just struggling with a little bit of speed, just pure acceleration speed. The car seems to be a little slower than Oriol and we’ve got to figure out why that is. All in all it was a good day. I really do think we got ourselves into a place that’s much better than we’ve been here in a long time. I feel pretty good about it.”

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 AFS Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “It was a successful day for the No. 17 AFS Chevrolet. Today was technically our first real day of testing which puts us a few days behind everyone else, but we were able to jump right into it. We weren’t catching the big tow at the end, but that really wasn’t our focus. We wanted to make sure we have a good balanced car first. I think it shows how high the level of teamwork is here at Chip Ganassi Racing – just to get me in the car and up to speed with the rest of the field so quickly. We’ll keep moving forward toward qualifying this weekend.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet): “Today was an interesting day. We’ve been pretty happy with the cars the last couple of days, but the weather was different again and the track temperature was a little higher, so that presented us with some new challenges. So there were times in the day where I wasn’t too happy, but in the end it’s one of those good days where the conditions change and it forces us to think a little bit and figure out what we really need. So I was proud of the guys for keeping their heads down and making me happier by the end of the day.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 21 Century 21 CFH Racing Chevrolet): “It was a pretty good day. Every day is a little different at the (Indianapolis Motor) Speedway. You’re always learning new things. I think we have some stuff from today that we need to dissect and have a closer look at. We are relatively on track. We’ve just got to keep moving forward and not get too complacent in what we’re doing.”

TOWNSEND BELL (No. 24 The Robert Graham Special Chevrolet): “It was good. We’re staying in a tight little box, being a single-car program, only event of the year so far with the team. Trying to be pragmatic and just stay focused on the fundamentals. So far, so good. We hit the track pretty reasonable, thanks to Davey Hamilton for shaking down the car (on opening day May 3), I was in Monterey for a (sports car) race. Davey did a nice job to just work out the bugs for us and we were able to hit the ground running when we got here.”

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda): “We had the fresh engine in during today’s run and everything feels good so far for the No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda. We had a reasonable no-tow lap, so I felt pretty good with how things were looking. The car wasn’t the strongest in traffic and we made a couple of changes throughout the day, so we have a few things to look at and see what we can figure out overnight. Tomorrow is another day, so we’ll try again and see what happens.

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda): “I feel really good in this place, so it feels nice. What I really, really want to do is win the 500. It’s nice to be first in practice and everything, of course. We are working hard at the 500. I’m just 23 now. I have a lot of years to try and win it.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Snapple Honda): “I think we made some headway today. We found a bit of direction there at the end of the day, which I’m pleased with. I think speed wise we are off a bit, but hopefully we can just try and get one of the better handling cars and go with that.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Day 3 was challenging at times. We found some directions for race running – we concentrated on race running today – we have some items that we need to do back-to-back tomorrow to validate. There will be a big meeting tonight to figure out a direction for this team. I think our speed is somewhere in the 10th to 15th range at the moment.”

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 32 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): “It was a great day for 90 percent of it. On our last run we tried something with our race setup that didn’t really work the way we wanted, so we finished the day with not as good of a taste as I had the rest of the day, but you also need to learn those kinds of things. We are still very quick on our own so we should be good. We missed running in “Happy Hour,” the last hour, with everyone else but that’s okay.”

JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “The car felt really good. We got to run a little bit in traffic and the car felt really comfortable, so hopefully we can keep in this kind of window, fine-tune it a little bit and then start working on qualifying.”

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 48 Al-Fe Heat Treating Special Honda): “The guys are working really hard. It’s very difficult for them to build a car from scratch, so they’re working every day to make sure everything is right. Hopefully tomorrow will be our first day where we can actually go out there and run and evaluate the car and go through some changes. As soon as you go out there and feel back at ease, it doesn’t take long to get used to the car again. Once you get that behind you, you just want to go and run, and that’s the plan for us. I’m glad the guys are taking their time to get through everything they want to do and to get it right, and once that’s sorted out we’re just going to be pounding laps in the No. 48 Al-Fe Heat Treating car and we’ll get up to pace, I don’t doubt it.”

PIPPA MANN (No. 63 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “Our first runs went really well today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We started where we left off yesterday, and the handling of the Dale Coyne Racing car supporting Susan G. Komen was improving, and our speeds were looking decent. We dialed in on the set up, and I was getting more comfortable and gaining speed. We were getting some great traffic runs in, and then late this afternoon, it unfortunately went wrong as I caught the big pack heading into Turn 4. The cars in front of me checked up so dramatically that coming fully off throttle didn’t take enough speed out of the car. As I went for the brakes, I also had to take to the grey on the outside of 4, and that’s not a fun place to end up on the race track. For a few moments I almost thought I was going to escape unscathed, but then the angle of the slide hit the point of no return. After the first hit, I knew the pit entrance wall would be next, and that was the one that really hurt the racecar. I want to
thank the safety team and the medical staff for their quick response. When something goes wrong, it’s always reassuring to have those guys by your side so quickly. I have a few bruises, and I’m going to be sore tomorrow, but I’m fine. I really feel for the whole team. They have worked so hard on these race cars, and I hate that I messed one of them up. I know they’ll continue to work hard to get us back out there.

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “We spent today really working on the race car at Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. The No. 83 Levemir FlexTouch was decent in traffic, but we really focused on making the car faster. We did a couple of qualifying simulations and I think we have a solid direction for that once we turn the boost up and get ready for Fast Friday.”