Opening Day Report: 97th Indianapolis 500

Story posted - May 11 2013 11:37 PM

IZOD IndyCar Series
Opening Day Report: 97th Indianapolis 500

Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 1 DHL Chevrolet
Hunter-Reay, one of three drivers to capture victory in the first four races so far this season, comes to Indianapolis Motor Speedway sixth in the IZOD IndyCar Series points standings. The reigning series champion started the 2012 Indy 500 from the front row but was forced to retire the 500-mile race early due to mechanical issues.

"Our first laps of the month will be in tomorrow. It was tough today, watching practice, but I think Carlos (Munoz) had a good first day and with Kurt (Busch) shaking down the DHL Chevy we're ready to go tomorrow. Looking forward to starting it and running with my teammates."

On the possibilities of a second consecutive front-row start at Indy:

"I think we can be very competitive. Our real goal this year is the race car for race day. I think the front row is possible but we don't really know where everybody stacks up yet."

E.J. Viso, No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA CITGO Chevrolet

Fresh off his career-best qualifying effort, his second top-10 finish of the season and in a three-way tie for 10th in the championship points standings, Viso began the two and one-half-week stint at Indianap olis Motor Speedway today; the No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA CITGO Chevy did not see any track time but plans to make some runs on the hallowed 2.5-mile oval tomorrow.

"I believe May will be a great month for me and my crew. We have been working very, very hard, and I think we have been showing only glimpses of what we are really capable of. Although we did not run today, it was good to be here (at IMS) to surround ourselves with the atmosphere and get everything sorted out so we have the entire month ahead to get laps in. I don't believe we will be rushing into anything when we do get on-track; we've been patient so far, just hope we can finally show everyone what we know we can do."

Marco Andretti, No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet

After capturing his second podium finish of the season and moving up to second place in the points standings, Marco Andretti and the No.25 RC Cola team is ready to strike while the iron is hot. While not having put in any track time during Opening Day, Andretti is eager to get to work hoping to win his first Indianapolis 500.

"Indianapolis is great - Every year I look forward to coming back. I can't wait to get on track and get back to work. The RC Cola car has been strong all year so far, and I have a great group of guys to support me. Working with Ryan (Hunter-Reay), EJ (Viso), and James (Hinchcliffe) throughout the season has been helpful in finding a solid setup for every race. After watching Carlos (Munoz) in orientation, he is right where he needs to be heading into Indy. He's a good driver and I'm looking forward to working with him throughout the month. I have never been so thirsty for milk in Victory Circle, than I am right now. Every driver knows the 500 is difficult race to win. Staring day one, what I do on track is incredibly important - I need to stay focused every step of the way."

Carlos Muñoz, No. 26 Unistraw Chevrolet

The 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 will mark Munoz's IndyCar debut and first attempt at the historic 500-mile race. The full-time Firestone Indy Lights driver spent the day completing the traditional rookie orientation program, recording the fastest time of the day amongst today's participating rookies.

"Today's rookie orientation went really well. I passed all of the three phases and got some good laps in. It was not that much different than driving in Firestone Indy Lights, but it just took me a few laps to adapt to the track and new No. 26 Unistraw Chevy. I'm very happy with today; my teammates James (Hinchcliffe) and Marco (Andretti) supported me throughout each of the phases and gave me some good tips. I feel really good going in to the rest of this week's practices, but it's still a long couple weeks so we just need to take it step-by-step.

On being the fastest rookie after today's opening practice session...

"My day ended really well with this afternoon's practice. I feel like each time I get in the No. 26 Chevy that I'm getting better. I'm starting to feel more and more confident, and I think my last lap was one of my best of the day. But it is still a long month with a lot of work left to do. I'm with the best team (Andretti Autosport) this season, which gives me confidence in my abilities as we go through this month."

James Hinchcliffe, No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet

While not turning any laps during today's practice windows, Hinchcliffe is looking to improve on his sixth-place finish in last years running of the Indianapolis 500. After capturing his first two career victories this season - in only four events - the Canadian sits fourth in the points standings.

"First, great job to Carlos (Munoz) today with ROP - he got through the phases quite well and is off to a great start this month. I'm a little worried about the weather for tomorrow's practice but hoping it holds out and warms up so we can get the GoDaddy Chevy turning some laps here. As a team we've put in a lot of hard work over the winter, and I'm looking forward to see if it's paid off for us. Can't wait to get on track tomorrow."

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