Chevy Racing–IndyCar–Indianapolis 500 Day 1 Practice

INDIANAPOLIS (May 11, 2014) – The first day of practice for the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 is in the books, and many of the Chevrolet IndyCar V6 powered drivers took advantage of the six-hour time frame to shake down their race cars for the first time.
Topping the speed charts was Team Chevy’s Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, with a lap of 223.057 mph/40.3485 seconds.  He was followed by his teammates Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Team Penske Chevrolet.
JR Hildebrand making his return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet turned in the fourth quickest time of the day.
Practice resumes tomorrow, Monday May 12, 2014 from noon to 6:00 p.m.
Qualifying for the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 will begin Saturday, May 17, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. and conclude Sunday, May 18 with the Fast 9 Qualifying beginning at 2:00 p.m.  ABC TV will air live coverage of qualifying from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday.
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FASTEST IN PRACTICE:  “It’s great, to be at the top of the speed charts, but the car felt really good, too, today and we got to do quite a few laps, try to get the mileage up.  You know, just anticipating that it might be wet the next couple of days.  But,  it’s only practice, first day, always handy to be at the top.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 2 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, 2ND IN PRACTICE: “I felt really comfortable in the Verizon Chevy today. I did a lot of running by myself and then I ran behind someone just to start getting used to the feel of that; the understeer and how the car feels in traffic. Right now we just want to get comfortable in the car. The first time I was here it took me about three laps to get comfortable. This time it was a few more. One of the great things about being with Team Penske is our cars are so good.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, 3RD IN PRACTICE: “Very happy the weather cooperated with us today. The Pennzoil Chevrolet was really quick today. I’m really glad we were able to do so on the first day of Indianapolis 500 practice. That always puts the boss (Roger Penske) in a good mood. I love this month and it feels good to have speed right out of the box. Things are looking good.”
JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 21 PREFERRED FREEZER ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, 4TH IN PRACTICE: “It was a good day despite not running as many laps as we had planned.  The main purpose today was to get Ed and myself on the same page with the cars.  We wanted to see how we worked with a similar setup.  So as we work through the month we can get a good baseline with our cars.  Luckily we are looking for the same thing with cars right now.  So this was a great start and the cars have some speed in them.  I think it’s equally important that both of us are hunting for the same things out the race car.  Sometimes you have teammates who go different directions on setup.  Right now I don’t see that happening.  I think Ed and I are similar in our approach driving in traffic and other settings.  I feel good about how things are going right now.”
RYAN BRISCOE, NO. 8 NTT DATA CHIP GANASSI RACING CHEVROLET (IN ‘T’ CAR), 16TH IN PRACTICE:  WURTZ: “It was a very quick turnaround from the Grand Prix of Indianapolis road course setup to the Indianapolis 500 oval setup for Opening Day, but we made sure we were prepared to make the transition as easily as possible.  We didn’t get out until later this afternoon because we wanted to make sure our T (backup) car was ready to go to run some install laps.  Tonight we’ll pull the engine from the T car and put it in the primary car so that we can get out on track as soon as practice begins tomorrow at noon.”
ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, 8TH IN PRACTICE: “I always focus on the race, but I think after last year, the excitement of winning the pole, and then the disappointment of finishing tenth in the race with what was a fast car I think has made us even more focused on making sure we’re ‑‑ I don’t want to say more prepared, because I think we are prepared for the race. But, just more focused on getting the right amount of race running each day and running in enough different types of conditions, and not necessarily maybe worrying about qualifying quite as much.”
TOWNSEND BELL, NO. 6 ROBERT GRAHAM – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET, 9TH IN PRACTICE:  “The Robert Graham – KV Racing Technology crew could not have made it any easier in terms of the preparation of the car. I had a really comfortable starting setup. There are a lot of people here that I have worked with before and I am really pleased with the group of guys we have put together.  It is never easy when it is a one-off situation, but right now I don’t think it could be any better in terms of the chemistry and the people that are making this all happen.” 
TONY KANAAN, NO.10 LEXAR CHIP GANASSI CHEVROLET (IN T CAR), 10TH IN PRACTICE: “It was a good day overall for the Target team.  Scott and I both had time today to shake down the backup cars.  I feel like we’re in a good position and we had a great start today.  The team worked really hard last night changing from the road course cars to the backup oval cars today.  There were a lot of long hours put into this last night after the grand prix, and it will continue again on through tonight.  But it’s worth it after all –  it’s the Indianapolis 500.”
SCOTT DIXON, NO. 9 TARGET CHEVROLET, 13TH IN PRACTICE:  “Today was pretty basic.  We did 11 laps in the T (backup) car and that was the goal today.  Everything went as planned for Team Target and we’ll move to the primary cars tomorrow.  Short day at the track.”
SAGE KARAM, NO. 22 DREYER & REINBOLD KINGDOM RACING: “I really enjoyed today and it went well. We finished the rookie orientation program to get those laps out of the way and went on to run 77 laps total. The set up we have on the car right now will not let me go too much faster than what I have shown, but right now the main goal is to get comfortable and I think that’s what we achieved. Later this week we’ll start trimming it out and making her faster to get up into the 220s.”
            THE MODERATOR: Well, this is an audition for Riverdance and right now I’m not quite sure how you’re doing it ‑‑ good lap, 223 and change, last time I looked up there.  You generally know how strong you went, but the real litmus test is how you felt about it.
            WILL POWER:  Yeah, apart from the speed, it’s great, to be at the top of the speed charts, but the car felt really good, too, today and we got to do quite a few laps, try to get the mileage up.  You know, just anticipating that it might be wet the next couple of days.  Yeah, you can’t ‑‑ it’s only practice, first day, always handy to be at the top.
            THE MODERATOR:  You’re a professional, obviously, and do this for a living, but was it weird at all when you first got out after having competed yesterday?
nbsp; WILL POWER:  It was just weird waking up the day after a race and having to get straight back into the car and on a different style of track.  But you know, as soon as I finished up today, like as soon as I got into it today, I just felt normal again, back‑to‑back, focus on the 500 and get the most out of the car.  Can’t believe we actually raced yesterday, had totally forgotten about it.
            Q.  So it was weird switching from the two cars, but did it take very long?  And were you in the same car as you were yesterday?
            WILL POWER:  No, we were in a different car.  No, it didn’t take long.  It’s such a different discipline.  The oval is so different from the road course, tires are different.  Just get back into the swing of the oval feel, basically.
            Q.  We didn’t get to have you in yesterday, but you and Dixon had the moment in turn three and four.  Can you explain what happened there and just was he pushing too hard to get inside?
            WILL POWER:  Yeah, he went ‑‑ he went for a move up his side and hit me and spun.  I mean, I didn’t see.  I felt it, felt someone hit me.  Obviously come around the next lap, and he’s bumped (ph) ‑‑ yeah, he had a much better view than I.  Hit my back wheel.  Yeah, it’s a tough place to pass.
            Q.  When I saw it, I thought to myself ‑‑ that guy cannot get a break at this racetrack, speaking of you.  Do you ever have that thought about particular racetracks, and do you know if I always go here, I have success here or I have some tough luck a time or two here?
            WILL POWER:  Yeah, I would say that about this place.
            But although, I would say that my performance in 2009 to finish fifth with Penske kind of gave me a chance to be full time there.  I think Roger saw that, running five seconds.
            I think it’s really time to have a good Indy 500 finish, I really do.  I think after what’s happened over the last few years, it’s time to have a good finish, which is a win.
            Q.  You won the last 500 at Fontana, how much confidence does that give you?
            WILL POWER:  Yeah, it just was a great off‑season, obviously water under the bridge.  Since then, we have four races, all preseason testing.  Just, man, you know, it’s just more experience.  Obviously it does a lot better for your confidence than not finishing or having a bad day.
            Q.  Do you just throw everything away and start from scratch, or is there anything that you can pull from what you’ve done or is it just a completely different experience?
            WILL POWER:  It’s the first oval that we do all year.  So you’ve been in road course mode and you get to the oval, and it’s a lot different, and the way you race around here is a lot different with the drafting and pretty close quarters all the time.
            So, you know, you could say that, yeah, you’re starting kind of ‑‑ this is the start of the oval season when you start.  Obviously Brad’s obviously got three years with this car, so quite a bit of data to go off, but it’s a slightly different tire, too.
            Q.  What is your plan when you do get on the track?  Is it more race training earlier in the week or qualifying later?
            WILL POWER:  Yeah, actually we did a bit of race work today, just anticipating the rain here.
            I think it’s important to get some race stuff in, because you get to the end of the week and you get to thinking about qualifying, which pays big points, too.  So you have to be pretty honest with that.  But the whole race does pay massive points, double points.  Honestly, I think it’s way too far but it is what it is right now.
            Q.  Saturday also pays some pretty good points.  Right now you have a one‑point lead over Ryan Hunter‑Reay, but come Saturday, if you’re the fastest on Saturday, you’ll get 33 points if he has an issue and Sam gets ten points and all of a sudden your lead increases.  What do you think of the whole point structure for qualifying here?  There’s a lot of points available for that.
            WILL POWER:  Yeah, it’s a big deal.  Although, it’s a very ‑‑ you know, between points, it’s not a big spread.  So generally all the guys who are in the championship are in good teams and up front anyway in qualifying.
            So I expect ‑‑ I expect maybe to gain five points or something if you happen to be on the pole.  But like I say, who knows what can happen.
            Q.  And also, were you surprised at how brutal yesterday’s race ended up being, on equipment, on drivers, a lot of things?
            WILL POWER:  It was a surprise.  It was aggressive.  Yeah, it was a lot of ‑‑ yeah, I couldn’t believe it, some of those restarts.  I actually had a drive (ph) penalty, so I just backed off and watched one of them, and sure enough the car goes flying into the wall and bits of debris going everywhere.
            It just seems to get rougher and rougher in IndyCar all the time.  Like it’s just becoming ‑‑ I can’t tell you how many times I was hit yesterday, like side to side, and you kind of ‑‑ the cars are almost too strong now.  Man, we bang off each other a lot.  But it’s made for some good racing, but I just don’t want it to become dangerous.
THE MODERATOR:  You’ve been sitting here watching other people race, had to feel good to get in the car.
            ED CARPENTER:  Yeah, I’ve been looking forward to it.  Obviously like I said, I don’t think it would have mattered, really, if I had been running all the races up to this point.
            The start of the month of May is always special and it’s always exciting to get it started, so happy that we had weather that cooperated today and let us run all day
            THE MODERATOR:  By the way, your crew was working to get Mike back into action, really did yeoman’s work.  I was back there watching.
            ED CARPENTER:  They did a good job yesterday, and J.R.s guys for the 21 car were back kind of just working on the speedway cars, and I think everybody in the garage jumped in and got us back out.
            Sometimes yo
u do that and it’s not really worth it, but we picked up five spots and that kept us ‑‑ we dropped from fifth to sixth in points instead of seventh, and we are that much further ahead of eighth, still.  So I’m glad that we’ve put in the effort.
            Q.  In terms of the pole run last year, which was so spectacular, and I know it was a highlight in your career, do you build on that here or is it just the race that you think about and how you improve the actual ‑‑ running the 500‑mile?
            ED CARPENTER:  I always focus on the race, but I think after last year, the excitement of winning the pole, and then the disappointment of finishing tenth in the race with what was a fast car I think has made us even more focused on making sure we’re ‑‑ I don’t want to say more prepared, because I think we are prepared for the race.
            But just more focused on getting the right amount of race running each day and running in enough different types of conditions, and not necessarily maybe worrying about qualifying quite as much.
            I tend to worry about speed a lot, which makes me want to work on going fast.  So trying to not ‑‑ trying to not think that way as much this year, but at the same time, I think that the team has built a couple fast cars, and feel pretty good about where we are at the end of the first day.
            Q.  You’ve been out of the car I think since Fontana, or maybe you’ve had a couple refresher or test days.  How hard is it for you to get back in since you’ve been the sidelined person?
            ED CARPENTER:  I don’t know that it’s any different for me than guys coming from the GP yesterday to this.  It’s so different.  The car feels so different from road course spec to oval spec.
            I don’t think that I was at a disadvantage at all.  I’ve done as much oval testing since the last race at Fontana as anybody.  You know, we did two days at Texas and two days at Fontana.  So I don’t really ‑‑ I didn’t feel any rest.  I’m always so excited to get back out on this track, you know, so just glad being here.
            Q.  After being in the timing stand for the first four races, do you almost feel like, it’s my turn?
            ED CARPENTER:  Yeah, I feel like I’m back home.  I don’t know what I’m doing on the timing stand all the time.  I’m just trying to stay out of the way and I probably talk more than I should.  But the guys on the team do a great job and they don’t ‑‑ I think I’m a better asset to them in the car than I am standing up on the timing stand.
            So I’m happy to be getting sweaty again.
            Q.  You made the comment during the TV broadcast yesterday that the standing starts were yet another ‑‑ with the incident there.  Can you talk a bit about what that has done, whether you think it should be changed?  There is also the issues on a couple restarts, as well.
            ED CARPENTER:  Well, the restarts are a separate issue.  But I think when I look at the standing starts and the series, I can think of maybe two where every car went off the grid.  So I just don’t think that we have all the pieces of technology that we need to do the standing starts.
            It’s not that I’m against standing starts, but you’ve got Juan Montoya stalling, who has probably done more standing starts than anyone in the field with all the years he ran in Formula 1.  They don’t go off well.
            They are exciting when they work, but I think maybe we’ve had only one or two where everyone’s went.  Luckily I stalled on one of them, Charlie stalled on one.  This just happened to be a race where guys stalled up front and it made it even worse.
            But more of the ones we’ve done or not, cars haven’t gone, and I don’t think that we all just don’t know what we’re doing.  It’s really hard to do with the way the system is that we have.