Hunter-Reay sits atop 100th Indianapolis 500 practice chart
INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, May 18, 2016) – Ryan Hunter-Reay isn’t getting ahead of himself. The Andretti Autosport driver knows it’s only two days into practice for the epic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
Some competitors may not have shown all their cards yet, but sitting atop the speed chart today with a lap of 228.202 mph in the No. 28 DHL Honda has the 2014 Indianapolis 500 champion feeling optimistic. Especially after last year, when Hunter-Reay started 16th, ran mid-pack most of the day and finished the race in 15th position.
“Coming off the year we had here last year where I couldn’t get the car to do anything I needed it to, it’s nice to have the 28 DHL Honda up towards the front, especially here at Indy,” Hunter-Reay said. “This is what we wait for all year, to get back on track here, start working with the car, feel the energy of the biggest race in the world.”
All 33 cars made it onto the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval today, making up for a complete rainout Tuesday by completing a total of 2,779 laps – an average of 84 per car. Hunter-Reay clocked his fast circuit early, on the 11th of 94 laps he turned. Much of the late afternoon saw cars running in large packs to get the feel of driving in traffic.
“We’re working through things, working through setup, some qualifying stuff, some race stuff, just getting in the mix, getting in traffic and it’s been a fun day, a challenging one at times,” said Hunter-Reay, the 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion. “When that wind switches around, it certainly throws you for a loop. Compared to (Monday), it’s been a big change. But I was pretty happy with the car there at the end.”
Carlos Munoz, Hunter-Reay’s teammate in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda, was second quick on the day at 228.066 mph. Andretti drivers also set the pace on Monday’sopening day of practice, led by Marco Andretti at 228.978.
Will Power was third fastest today in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet (227.733), but didn’t give the lap much credence since – like most of the fast ones turned – it came with an aerodynamic tow from cars in front.
“The tow is worth about 6 miles an hour, so it’s not really representative,” Power said. “It’s just a matter of finding good traffic and understanding your car and seeing what works and what doesn’t work. I think the cars are a little slower this year, for sure, and the Hondas look strong, very strong.”
Josef Newgarden was fourth in the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing (226.998) and Gabby Chaves fifth in the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda (226.889).
“We had about 30 minutes of running on Monday, so today was our first full day and we got through a lot of changes, got through all our program, did some traffic running and, like I say, I’m pretty pleased,” said Chaves, the 2015 Sunoco Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year who joined the Coyne team just prior to the May 14 Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the IMS road course. “I haven’t had any uncomfortable situations out there today, so I’m honestly just very, very pleased with the way the day has been going.”
The lone incident of the day occurred when rookie Spencer Pigot lost control of his No. 16 RLL/Mi-Jack/Manitowac Honda and spun into the Turn 1 SAFER Barrier. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver was uninjured but his car sustained significant left-side damage.
“The car was feeling pretty good, I think we’d been making improvements,” Pigot said. “We’d just done our quickest lap I think the run before, so everything was feeling good. … After we looked at the data, we found that the right front tire went down followed immediately by the right rear, so I must have run over something that cut the tires and caused the spin.
“It’s obviously a big setback for me, for the team, obviously not what you want to happen on just the second day. We’ll just try to put everything back together and then pick up where we left off.”
Practice continues from noon-6 p.m. ET Thursday and Friday, ahead of qualifying this weekend to set the 33-car field for the historic 100th running. Both practice sessions will be streamed live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com.
Qualifying airs Saturday on ESPN3 (11 a.m.-3 p.m. ET) and ABC (4-6 p.m. ET) and Sunday on ESPN3 (2-4 p.m. ET) and ABC (4-6 p.m. ET). Coverage of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 begins at 11 a.m. ET May 29 on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
Karam welcomes NHRA drag racers to IMS garage
Sage Karam has been a busy host of racers from other disciplines the past two days. One day after greeting sprint-car legend Steve Kinser to the Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom Racing garage, Karam welcomed NHRA drag racers Shawn Langdon, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Leah Pritchett to Gasoline Alley at Indianapolis Motor Speedway prior to today’s practice session for the Indianapolis 500.
All three enjoyed taking a turn stepping into Karam’s No. 24 Gas Monkey Garage Chevrolet in the garage and learning more about the intricacies of the car, especially the steering wheel. Pritchett, a Top Fuel winner earlier this year at Phoenix who drove Formula Fords as a youngster, said she would relish an opportunity to drive an Indy car.
“I have a huge amount of respect for speed and other people’s equipment,” she said, “but I would definitely entertain that possibility, especially since I grew a love for it with the small amount of road-course racing I have done.
“I definitely don’t suck, but I’m definitely no professional at it. I think if I had the opportunity to hone some skills that I would be OK, but these are true professionals out here who have dedicated their lives to this and I don’t think I could hold a candle to them by any means. But it’d be fun, there’s no doubt about it. For now, I’m just going to look on and watch and cheer for Sage this month.”
Karam, the 21-year-old looking to drive in his third consecutive Indy 500, enjoyed meeting his fellow racers.
“It is way different, what they drive, compared to what I drive, but at the same time there are a lot of similarities and it’s cool hearing what they have to say,” Karam said. “I’ve never sat in an NHRA car before, but I would like to. Hopefully I can get down to Englishtown (N.J.) and see these guys race there, get to experience what NHRA racing is all about and get to see all those similarities and differences in my own eyes.”
Ilmor Engineering celebrates Indy car win No. 300
In this history-making year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, longtime engine builder Ilmor Engineering has already made some history this month.
When Simon Pagenaud won the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the IMS road course May 14, it marked the 300th victory in Indy car competition for Ilmor, which produces the 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engines with partner Chevrolet.
The company was founded in the United Kingdom in 1983 by engineers Mario Illien and Paul Morgan, along with Verizon IndyCar Series team owner Roger Penske. Ilmor’s first Indy car race win came at Long Beach in 1987 with Mario Andretti at the wheel and its victory list includes 19 triumphs at the Indianapolis 500.
Chevrolet and Ilmor have teamed to win four consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series manufacturers’ championships.
“When Paul Morgan, Roger Penske and I started Ilmor, we all had high ambitions and the will and drive to win, but we could not imagine at the time we would reach the success we have,” Illien said. “I am very proud of the many Ilmor employees who have contributed to this achievement. It is an indication and reflection of hard work, consistency and talent.”
Co-founder Penske has been a major beneficiary of Ilmor’s success. Team Penske has collected 114 of its 181 Indy car wins and nine of its 16 Indianapolis 500 victories in Ilmor-produced engines.
“Team Penske is proud to be associated with Ilmor and the legacy of success that the company continues to build in motorsports,” Penske said. “This achievement is certainly a credit to the hard work and dedication of all the employees, the leadership of Steve Miller, Steve O’Connor, Paul Ray and their teams and the vision created by Mario Illien and Paul Morgan back in 1983 when Ilmor was first formed.”
Fans have much to enjoy when arriving early for 100th Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials are encouraging fans to arrive earlier than in previous years for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 29 due the expected surge in attendance for the epic event. An expanded program of prerace entertainment is planned for ticket holders coming early.
Gates at IMS open at 6 a.m. ET following the traditional cannon blast. All fans are encouraged to arrive by 8 a.m. or at least two hours earlier than their normal arrival time.
Among the entertainment opportunities available to fans: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum opens at 6 a.m. and features a special “50 Years of Team Penske in Racing” exhibit; the enhanced fan midway opens at 6 a.m.; Prairie Farms and the Indiana chapter of the American Dairy Association will distribute 100,000 milk bottles to fans on race day for an epic milk toast with the winner of the 100th running; ESPN’s “SportsCenter on the Road” will tape episodes at Pagoda Plaza; and the Borg-Warner Trophy will begin an epic “march” from the IMS Museum to the start-finish line’s yard of bricks at 8 a.m., escorted by the Gordon Pipers.
All of that is in addition to the traditional flyovers, military tributes, “Back Home Again in Indiana” sung by Josh Kaufman and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, the national anthem from Darius Rucker, balloon release, marching bands and more.
“This race day, we’re celebrating with our largest crowd in decades,” said Allison Melangton, Hulman Motorsports senior vice president of events. “To avoid unnecessary delays and to have the best experience possible, plan to get here in the early morning hours or at least two hours earlier than usual.”
Tickets on sale for INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen
Tickets are now available for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to Watkins Glen International. The INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen will take place Sept. 1-4 on the iconic 3.4-mile permanent road course in Watkins Glen, N.Y.