MAY 20, 2021

Teams work on both qualifying and race setup ahead of Fast Friday when it will be focused on qualifying after boost raised to qualifying level of 1.5 bar

INDIANAPOLIS (MAY 20,2021) – It was an interesting mix of the young guns and the veterans in the top-10 at the end of day three of practice for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

On lap one of practice, Rookie-of-the-Year contender Scott McLaughlin, No. 3 Pennzoil Chevrolet, was caught in a minor three car incident. The Team Penske crew took the car back to the paddock to check the car, repair minor damage and quickly got McLaughlin back on track.

Conor Daly, No. 47 US Air Force Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, led the Chevrolet drivers in the top-6 with a lap of 225.245 mph. Two=-time Series’ champion Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Shell Fuel Rewards Team Penske Chevrolet, was fourth out of 35 drivers turning laps today. GMR Grand Prix winner Rinus Veekay, No. 21 Bitcoin Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, turned in the sixth quickest time of the day.

Other notable members of Team Chevy were rookie Scott McLaughlin, No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet, with the 13th fastest lap. Texas winner Pato O’Ward. No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet in the 14th fastest position and 2018 Indy 500 winner Will Power, No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet was 15th in the order.

Tomorrow teams make final preparations for qualifying for the race as the boost level is increased from 1.3 bar to 1.5 bar for Saturday and Sunday qualifying to fill the 33-car field. With 35 entries, two cars will not make the field.

A two-hour practice will follow the conclusion of the Fast Nine Qualifying that determines the pole winner, and the starting order of the front three rows. The boost will be returned to race level 1.3 bar before the start of that practice.

The track will go green for Fast Friday at noon and conclude at 6:00 pm.

Pato O’Ward, No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, and Rinus VeeKay, No. 21 Bitcoin Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet,
Press Conference Transcript:

THE MODERATOR: Wrapping up day three of practice for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Fairly good day for these two. Let’s begin with Pato and your thoughts on your day. 14th quick, I believe, overall today.
PATO O’WARD: Yeah, we didn’t have a bad day. I’m pretty happy with my race car, which is always a good thing. For the race qualifying car, not so happy yet. I think tomorrow is going to be a good tell to see where we stand. The extra boost always throws in an adventurous twist around this place.
Yeah, you can’t really tell honestly with all the no post speeds. It’s going to be interesting tomorrow to see who is quick by himself. It should give us an idea of what qualifying is going to look like.
THE MODERATOR: Rinus, how was your day today?
RINUS VEEKAY: It was a pretty good day for me. We started the day off with quallie trim, yeah, just trimmed some downforce out. The car felt really good. Car felt as good with very low downforce as in race trim. Yeah, very, very good in that point.
Then in the race trim, yeah, we learned a lot today, tried some things that were really not so good. But I think if we put the whole car together, which we did a few times, we have a very competitive car.
Yeah, it’s just very hard to follow, to pass. Yeah, just when it gets hot, gets greasy. I think we have one of the strongest cars out there. That makes the job a lot of fun.
THE MODERATOR: Jay Frye wanted to confirm the penalty for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Tomorrow they will be held 30 minutes for improper conduct out on the racecourse. Rule 9.3.1.
I know some guys out there, they were doing this yesterday, too, working on qual sims, race car. Rinus, your teammates yesterday were going back and forth. What did you net out today, what the program really was for you?
PATO O’WARD: I mean, I started off like Rinus with a few qualifying trims. Unfortunately not a lot of people care when you’re in the quallie sims. They just like to screw you when you’re right in the middle. They just freaking park it. I didn’t really get any clean reads. But of the lap that I did, I wasn’t very happy with the car anyway.
I have realized that a good race car does not translate into a good qualifying car, at least in my case. We just need to continue working on that, making it better, because things just get more sketchy the faster you go. Tomorrow we’re going to go quite a bit quicker.
Yeah, that’s going to be the game plan for us tomorrow. I think you’re going to see everybody doing qualifying trims. You’ll probably not see a pack running out there.
RINUS VEEKAY: Yeah, same about qualifying trim. We were trying to find a gap going on track. Then someone gets sent out just right in front of you, you’re like, Oh, no.
Yeah, that happens. Tomorrow we’ll probably be a little better, I hope. Anyway, having more power I think for us is going to be quite all right. Once we trim more it actually felt like the car felt better.
Yeah, I think we have a very good qualifying car. Fast Nine is going to be possible again. Yeah, for race trim I think you can’t really stand out this year. I felt like last year we were peaking out with the car. It was really better than anyone else. But I think this year the margin is just very small. We have a very good car. We can pass, yeah, take advantage of someone making mistakes, but it doesn’t get much different anywhere else than that.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it up for questions.
Q. Obviously we saw Ferrucci in two. Did you guys find turn two particularly sketchy? Daly was referring to his car being quite oversteer-y at turn two. Was that a particular issue for you guys?
PATO O’WARD: I had a few moments, but I don’t think they were in two. I think they were in one actually. In one or three? I don’t know, man (laughter).
Man, it’s sketchy in traffic. Whenever you’re behind two cars, three cars, it’s okay. You feel like the actual balance of the car. As soon as you’re like 12th in line, you just want your car to be the least trashed as everyone else’s. No car is going to feel good, unless you want to prove me wrong.
RINUS VEEKAY: No, no. The first four can kind of battle around, kind of swap positions. But then when you’re like ninth or 10th, it just feels like you have wooden tires.
PATO O’WARD: Feel like the car completely goes whop.
Q. As the track greases up, kind of gets sketchy, have you noticed that increases or decreases any differences between Hondas and Chevys? They looked a lot closer.
PATO O’WARD: I think this year is going to be a pretty close fight. I mean, I sure hope that is the case. I think tomorrow is going to really give everybody an idea of who has been sandbagging or not. I mean, from the looks of it, it looks very well mixed up.
RINUS VEEKAY: I did feel yesterday that the Chevys were harder to catch than the Hondas in traffic. That means that the Chevy is pretty strong.
Q. With three of the first five winners this year all being first-time winners, were you surprised by that trend? Also would you be surprised to see a first-time winner in the Indy 500?
PATO O’WARD: This series is stacked. I feel like it’s never been as competitive.
Q. Any of the rest of you?
PATO O’WARD: Yeah, same boat. I don’t think INDYCAR has ever been this competitive with so many different, like, ranges of age. Like you’ve got guys that are less than 24 years old that are winning races, being competitive in Fast Sixes. Then you have the mini veterans like Josef, Rossi. Then you’ve got the…
Q. Old guys?
PATO O’WARD: The older guys (laughter). You have the older guys like Dixon, Power, then you have the old guys like Montoya, Castroneves and Kanaan.
RINUS VEEKAY: Yeah, I’m not really surprised. Last year Pato was close to winning very often. Colton has been doing amazing. I think I got a great car in the Indy GP.
Well, I think it’s just, yeah, we grew up kind of in the computer era, kind of the digital era. That helps also the simulators being very normal to us, kind of helps us feeling comfortable in the simulator. That maybe translates to better results.
I think, yeah, for the Indy 500, well, it’s the Indy 500, so many different guys can win.
Q. Have any of you guys ever done a photo like that with your teams?
PATO O’WARD: No. It looks cool. I think they got the idea — the first day when everybody went out, I think the Penske guys did it. It looked pretty cool.
Q. Three of you guys winners this year, all under the age of 24. The changing of the guard seems to be here. Do you feel any resentment or heat from the older guys, like back off, little guys?
PATO O’WARD: I think they’ve been pretty accepting. I feel like we’ve earned our place in the series. I feel like ultimately the guys that decide that are the vets and the guys that are always running up front, yeah.
RINUS VEEKAY: I felt like last year it was always quite elbows out. Sometimes it’s not old vets, but I think people know it now. Yeah, like Pato said, we’ve earned our way into INDYCAR, earned some respect. I think we’re one of the guys now.
Q. Pato is going to be in trouble when Juan finds out you said he was like 70 years old.
PATO O’WARD: I said he was older (laughter). Who is the oldest guy in the field?
Q. Helio or Juan.
PATO O’WARD: Maybe Tony.
Q. Helio or T.K. depending on what birth certificate you’re looking at. A lot of veterans have been through here this week. It’s great you guys are fun and winning, aggressive, but this track is different. This track veterans exceed at. Is it almost better to not know as much as those guys do and figure it out as you go?
RINUS VEEKAY: I felt like last year I wasn’t really aware of what could happen. That went pretty well last year. But now after what happened in the pre-season test, I took it way, way easier.
PATO O’WARD: I think you smacked the wall at 220 something miles an hour, it resets you.
RINUS VEEKAY: You’ve done it, too.
PATO O’WARD: Yeah, for sure.
Q. Rinus and Pato, this will be your second 500, but kind of your first May more or less. How different is the energy qualifying or practicing in May as opposed to August with fans?
RINUS VEEKAY: How different is the energy?
Q. Yes.
RINUS VEEKAY: You can feel there’s a lot of energy in the paddock. Just watching around pit lane to the garages, there’s so many fans. Every time you walk outside you’re giving autographs, kind of feel more like an INDYCAR driver. It feels more like the Indy 500 than just a test day.
PATO O’WARD: Yeah, I agree with that. I think the difference now is it doesn’t feel like a test any more. It feels like an actual race weekend, yeah.
RINUS VEEKAY: I could definitely feel it during the GP and Barber. Barber felt really, really back to normal. Like turn two, all the people sitting in the grass was really nice atmosphere.
PATO O’WARD: Man, the GP is pretty stacked. When we were doing the driver intros, I was surprised to see so many people. I was pretty happy.
RINUS VEEKAY: Pretty cool to stand on the back of a truck. Never did that before.
PATO O’WARD: Make sure you hold not only onto the suction cup because they might come undone.
THE MODERATOR: Speak from experience?
PATO O’WARD: No, Simon told me (laughter).
Q. A lot of group running today, more than we’ve seen the last few days. Do you feel like you can attack from third on back or do you feel like it’s like it was the last couple years where you can only attack from the top two positions in a group?
PATO O’WARD: I think it’s better now. I think the improvements made in the off-season with the barge boards have been a positive. I think if you’re within the first four, five in line, you can probably do something if you get a good enough run. If you’re back in, like, eighth, ninth or 10th in line, you might have to wait till somebody checks up in front of you and you get a run there. But if no one is making mistakes, yeah, I feel like you’re pretty much stuck.
Q. How trimmed out where y’all running today compared to what y’all are going to be tomorrow and on Saturday?
RINUS VEEKAY: We did a quite decent trim. I think there’s still more to gain. We kind of went safe today. We just wanted to check the balance on different trims. Yeah, it felt really good. Car felt stable in every trim. No concerns whatsoever.
PATO O’WARD: Yeah, for me, I don’t think we trimmed much because I wasn’t very happy with it when we first went out. We didn’t trim more.
THE MODERATOR: Boost levels do go up tomorrow, 80, 90 horsepower. Bring a smile to your face at all?
RINUS VEEKAY: That’s all we ask for always.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for coming out, appreciate it. Good luck tomorrow.