15 August 2020 – DragonSpeed, whose rookie run to make the starting grid was one of the stories of Indianapolis 500 qualifying in 2019, yesterday completed its first day of practice for the 104th running of ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’. British driver Ben Hanley’s Chevrolet-powered Dallara set a best lap speed of 222.086 mph, last among the 33 runners as the team found its feet after effectively missing the first two days of practice.
The late confirmation of the team’s participation last week, a repeat of the driveshaft problem that ended the team’s 2019 race, and the need for Hanley to complete his ‘refresher’ laps before joining regular practice combined to restrict Ben to a handful of laps on Wednesday and Thursday. Yesterday’s final pre-qualifying runs lived up to their traditional ‘Fast Friday’ billing, with a boost increase for the 2.2-litre V6 turbo engines adding up to 50 extra horsepower, but DragonSpeed’s priorities lay elsewhere.
DragonSpeed team principal Elton Julian said, “The lost track time was a shame, but knowing that we are in the show allows us to focus on finding our baseline race set-up instead of qualifying. With Tom Brown joining Paul Thomas on the stand, we’re taking the same methodical, calm approach as last year, but emphasising different things. We’re grateful to the NTT Indycar Series, Roger Penske, Chevrolet, Firestone, and our sponsors for their help in getting us here, and look forward to playing our part in delivering a great show.”
35-year-old sportscar racing standout Hanley, who impressed at Indy last year with his cool head and technical acumen, ended the day seven miles per hour faster than his Thursday best before drawing 21st spot for Saturday’s qualifying session.
Hanley said, “We spent our first proper day on track on developing a solid basic set-up for the race. We worked though a lot of options, but the tricky conditions made it harder to read the effect of various changes over the course of the day. All the same, we were able to identify a few issues we think we can improve for qualifying and the race.”
The team’s number 81 machine sports a striking new livery and new sponsors for the 500, including Chevrolet Accessories, DragonSpeed IMSA LMP2 partner Flex-Box, Toledo Building Services, and Endeavor Business Media’s Electronic Design and Machine Design titles, plus continuing support from 10Star Solutions, Rembrandt Charms, and Motul.