Chevy Racing–INDYCAR–Indianapolis 500–Practice Day 1

MAY 15, 2018

MAY 15, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS (May 15, 2018) – With a baseline set, Chevrolet Verizon IndyCar Series (VICS) teams and drivers can look forward to reaching loftier goals at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Developing a familiarity with the new universal aerodynamic bodywork in traffic and long stints on the 2.5-mile oval was Team Chevy’s objective on the first day of practice for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Fifteen Team Chevy competitors logged laps behind the wheel of the Dallara chassis powered by the 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged direct-injected V6 Chevrolet engine. Overall, 35 entries completed 2,066 laps without incident.

Simon Pagenaud, driving the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet, recorded the fastest lap at 225.787 mph/39.8605 seconds as segments for rookie orientation, veteran refresher, and all entries were built into the initial seven hours of available track time.

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was second on the time sheet with a best lap of 224.665 mph/40.0597 seconds in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet. Team owner/driver and two-time Indy 500 pole winner Ed Carpenter, driving the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, was third fast at 224.523 mph/40.0850.

Danica Patrick, driving the No. 13 GoDaddy Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing, turned 91 laps with a best of 222.728 mph in her return to the Verizon IndyCar Series for the final race of her career.

Team Chevy also had the top five drivers with no tow laps, led by Carpenter at 221.512 mph.

Practice continues from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. ET May 16. ABC will telecast qualifications live at 4 p.m. ET May 19 and May 20. The 200-lap race will be telecast live on ABC at noon ET May 27.


THE MODERATOR: We will go ahead and get started with today’s Verizon IndyCar Series post practice press conference. Joined now by Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 13 Go Daddy Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing.

Danica, you just completed your first official day of practice back here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Got a taste of testing last week or the week before that.

DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, I know, I get confused myself.

THE MODERATOR: All the days blend together. What is the difference between a day like that and getting back to your first official practice here at the Speedway?

DANICA PATRICK: Well, I mean, first off I’m glad the test ended up getting moved to two weeks ago instead of six weeks ago just to be a little bit more fresh from that. But it was good to have all that time by myself for the most part. I mean, I think I drove behind Ed for a few laps at the end of the day when we were here two weeks ago.

So, you know, today it’s everybody, especially at the end of the day it’s happy hour or it could be unhappy hour if your car’s not very comfortable because there’s a lot of cars out on track.

I jumped into the back of a group, and then got into kind of the middle of the group, was able to pull away from the car behind, close up a little bit on the car ahead.

I felt pretty good. I’m still not completely confident in traffic. They’re trying to encourage me to use my tools and the bars, you know, the weight jacker and things. I’m like, I need to feel the traffic first. Like before we create another variable as to what’s going on, I need to familiarize myself and get sharp again with the traffic and just the tendencies of the car.

So, yeah, it was a really — I mean, I felt like it was a really solid day. I feel like the car has a lot of good natural speed in it. It was very smooth. We tried a handful of things and found some stuff that worked.

But I think that probably anyone that comes in here is probably (indiscernible) better info than me. It definitely feels like understeer and traffic is going to be the determining factor of where you go. You can get a decent lap, but once you get close up on a car in front, you’re going to deal with the front getting really light on you.

That’s the job at hand, how do you fix that and make yourself feel comfortable alone, find that balance. That’s what we’re trying to do. Yeah, it was a good thing it didn’t rain.

THE MODERATOR: You said you feel like the car has good speed. As you’re working through this, you’re trying to feel everything out for the car. How quickly does that come back? That’s something you have to acclimate to.

DANICA PATRICK: Definitely relearning the feel, remembering kind of the pattern of lifting and sort of the timing of it, where you do it in the corner, where you downshift, when you up-shift, when you leave it, little things like that.

I would say that just driving the car and being distracted with other things, like adjustments and traffic and looking in my mirrors and things like that, I’m getting a little bit more comfortable and almost reminding myself like, Hey, you’re not thinking hard enough about that corner there, and you’re doing 230, so…

But that’s what you need to get to. You need to get to the point where driving the car is very natural and instinctive on what’s happening, be able to digest the other scenarios, the cars around you, the adjustments you’re making, thinking ahead on the adjustments, timing passes. There’s a lot of — you need to create a lot of room for that kind of stuff out there as opposed to just driving the car. The race is very little of just driving the car and a lot of the other stuff.

THE MODERATOR: We will go ahead and open it up for questions.

Q. It sounds like you want to feel comfortable but not too comfortable. Is the pace what you thought it would be? Like the old cliché, riding a bike?
DANICA PATRICK: I was joking about riding a bike, a 230 mile-an-hour bike. That’s a different story.

Yeah, at this point, like I said, the very first day I was in the car, it felt way worse than what I thought it was going to feel. Day two was much better than I thought it was going to feel.

I would say for day one of Indy 500 week, weeks, call it a fortnight, right, not a month any more unfortunately, but I would say today went really well. We accomplished what we wanted to. We ran alone. We tried things. We got the car to turn a little bit better. We got in traffic for a good few laps, quite a few.

I’d say today was a really good day, really solid day. I kind of kept the mantra in mind like I had when I came to the test, that it’s about building confidence, not breaking confidence.

So, you know, I think the team is very solid and we have great cars. It’s a great organization. I don’t need to be silly. We can rely on teammates, you know, pace ourselves a little bit here and there.

‘Fortnight’, that’s a British term, right? There’s a lot of British people in IndyCar, so…

Q. Compared to what it was when you were a rookie here back in 2005, what’s the difference, even though it’s two different sets of cars? What do you remember that you can use with the cars now?
DANICA PATRICK: The feel or, like, just give me some synopsis of what’s different now than then?

Q. Compared to the chassis back then, stuff like that. I know it’s totally different. How will you be able to use what you had back then to now?
DANICA PATRICK: Do you remember what was going on 13 years ago? It’s pretty tough to remember exactly the way that the car felt compared to now. We’re talking about 13 years, a heck of a lot of laps in different cars and situations.

But, you know, I think the over-sweeping feeling every time I come to this track is that you have to be humble and respectful of it, and that you’re going very fast, things happen very fast. You can go out from one run to the next and not change anything and the car can be different. You just need to keep your wits about you.

I mean, for the very beginning of the month of May compared to my very first month of May, in general I’d say I’m humbled by the fact that the car has a lot of good, natural speed. It’s really just a matter of making a good racecar then.

Of course, back in those days, at this point in time, we weren’t running in a pack at all, we were only working on speed. The whole first week was really just about getting ready for qualifying. Yeah, we’re not in that scenario now.

Q. First time you came here in a few years, the business side of being a driver is just strictly business side of being a driver. Did you ever imagine that you would be involved in as many business ventures as you are now, how the Danica brand came about?
DANICA PATRICK: Definitely not all at once. I mean, I am interested in many things. But for a book, a clothing line and a wine to all launch at the same time, over 12 months, it all was happening.

But, hey, you know, Bobby Rahal gave me great advice before I was an IndyCar driver, when I was signed on to do Formula Atlantic for him. That’s that you need to save your money, don’t spend it all, and think about when you’re done racing. The fact for him, he wanted to be able to live the same lifestyle after racing as during, even though of course your salary goes away. What else can you do to provide that? What can you do to build a financial structure to do that, to live the same lifestyle?

That always stuck with me from a very long time ago. That was probably, what, 2002, ‘3, that he told me that. I’ve always kept that in the back of my mind. I think that’s to some degree some of what has motivated me to remember that there is going to be a lot of time after racing. Here I am a little younger than probably what I thought I’d be when I retired.

At the same point, what year did I start, I was — 2005, so I was 23. I mean, I remember thinking to myself, I don’t know, maybe I’ll do it for 10 years. It’s not that far off (laughter).

Anyway, I guess I wasn’t so far off with two different series. Yeah, I’ve been very fortunate in my career. I’m excited about the next phase. I know that racing has given me everything I have, it’s given me every opportunity I have. It really all started here.

Q. Earlier today you went and shared some of your racing experience with a group of local high school girls. On a day that is so hectic for you, you have so many things going on, why is that something that was important for you to take time to do?
DANICA PATRICK: I mean, ideally it would be nice if it wasn’t on the very first day on track when I had to do, you know, lengthy interviews. They let us go out at 10 or 11, do a leak check. That wasn’t in the plan. I know they had to wait around for my original time.

They’re just good things to do. I mean, it was quick. It wasn’t very long. But it’s still your presence. I’m not shy about my message. So that to me is the next phase of moving into, you know, life after racing, is I want to spread that message of empowerment and dreaming, setting big goals for yourself, and finding what it is that you love to do so you have the motivation to do it past when it’s challenging.

Q. Obviously your goal is to win this race. You came close early on when you started here. If you would win this race on Memorial Day, would you think about coming back and doing it again?
DANICA PATRICK: No, absolutely not. That would be the perfect way to never come back. Don’t you think? Yeah, don’t you think? Just mic drop that thing. That would be the perfect way to go out.

I have to say, I mean, if you talk to anybody in the last five years about, Am I going to do Indy? Personal, like family, I said I’d never do it again. No way. Like, I’m not going to — just not going to do it. It’s been too long since I’ve been in the car.

The way that it all went down with being able to have time to prepare and be really focused, like, I watched Kurt do the double. I really tried to do the double the second year I was gone. But I watched him do it, how much back and forth you have to do.

I mean, look, you can do it, but that to me, based on the fact that I had done so well here so many times, had so much fun history here in my own memory, like, I didn’t want to come back just to do the double. I felt like I could within the first two years I was gone and still do a really good job. But after being gone for three, four, five, six, seven years, I was, like, I didn’t think I’d ever do it again.

I have to say that only just because you never know. But, look, if I win, I really don’t think I would come back. It would be perfect. It would be perfect just like that.

THE MODERATOR: Danica, thank you very much. We appreciate your time.


THE MODERATOR: We’ll welcome in Simon Pagenaud, driver of the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet for Team Penske. Fastest of the day in today’s combined sessions in practice for the Indianapolis 500.

Simon, how did the car feel today? You obviously got some great speed out of it.

SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, the 22 Menards car is looking really, really fast. It was a very productive day. So, yeah, felt pretty happy. We obviously still learning a lot about the aerodynamics of the car. It’s quite different to what we had the past few years. There’s still a lot to learn for everybody, I believe. But we’re on the right track.

I tell you what, feel pretty confident already, which is a big step forward. It’s definitely important to be already ahead of the game if we have some weather this week. I think that could be very important.

THE MODERATOR: Drivers talk a lot during test sessions about how they have a checklist of things to run through. Even though this is official practice, you do have several days of it to get an opportunity to get the car ready for qualifying and ultimately the race. What does a first day checklist look like? How does it differ from things you’ll do later on in the week?

SIMON PAGENAUD: It’s exciting. It’s the first day of the month. Usually in the past, especially when you’re a driver that doesn’t have much experience on ovals, you take your time. Throughout the years, I learned you shouldn’t take your time, you should get going pretty quick. You never know, tomorrow may be raining. The day after that you may have some mechanical issues. Take your chance when you do.

We worked on understanding how the aerodynamics worked on the car today. That was our main goal, try to take things to extremes and see the limits. We think we have a good mechanical package to start on the car. Then we could work on the aero. That’s what’s interesting.

There’s obviously a lot less options than what we had in the past. With all the winglets we had, it was very complicated. Now it’s more simple, but it’s a different way to make the car work.

You got to keep an open mind, that’s for sure. But tomorrow’s going to be a different checklist, different items that we’re going to try, probably more mechanical. Today was more an aerodynamic day.

THE MODERATOR: You’re always going to be a series champion, but not an Indy 500 champion yet. You are driving for Team Penske which has more wins than any other team here in IndyCar history. What does it feel to drive for a team like that knowing you have a pretty good shot driving for Penske?

SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, I think this year we have a pretty strong opportunity. Chevy has done a tremendous job, so we feel like we have a lot of power. You know when you come and you feel you have a chance, wow, it’s an early Christmas, I tell you.

We’ll see. I really feel like this year could be a really good one. We’ve had some good ones before here. Let’s make it happen.

But, you know, when you drive for Roger, that’s definitely number one goal. For us this year, it was clear from the beginning of the year, that’s number one goal is to win Indy, then the rest will come next.

So we put all the effort we can in it. The team’s done a lot of work on understanding the car and trying to extract the best out of every component on it. So far it’s working.

Helio was fast, Will was fast, Josef as well. All four together we worked well today. We got so much information tonight to share that it makes for a dream team.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Simon.

Q. You’re feeling really confident today. Day one feel like this last year or…
SIMON PAGENAUD: No, I haven’t felt like this yet, I would say. That’s a big leap forward. 2015 was definitely a great year for us. We had a really good racecar. It took us time to get there.

Now on an oval I know what I need better, more. I have to say today I felt like we’re pretty close to where I want to be. It’s not there yet, but at least we have a really good baseline that I know will be enough to be in a good position anyways.

We can now take some chances on setups, try things, try to just fine-tune it. It’s quite fun actually when you get to that point because it’s the last little details. But we still have quite a bit of work to do. It seems complicated to get the right balance on the car.

Q. Questions on the schedule. You talked about having a daily checklist. When you look at the forecast this week, it could always change, is there some consideration that you’re going to have to start accelerating the schedule to get more things in? On the same note, there are some people who are not familiar with the tradition and history of running an entire week. Is it important that you have an entire week to go through all those different checklists?
SIMON PAGENAUD: I think like in Pocono, for example, we race 500 miles. We show up Friday, and we still race. It would be possible to just show up two days before the race and race.

But, you know, if you want to get your car perfect, these kind of testing days allow you to get it closer or more perfect. Yeah, it’s just a different mindset to any other races we go to.

I like it, but you could get lost by thinking too much, overthinking it. You really have to be disciplined about what you do and your priorities. Like you said, you look at the weather ahead. You also talk to your teammates, try to share the workload.

For example, Will was on a different schedule today than I was. We’re going to share that tonight and try to create the best package we can. So all four of us together obviously can do that. That’s a big help.

Q. I know Helio is pretty good here. What do you make of him being so quick in his first time out here today?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Well, it’s Helio. We call him the Speed King. That’s his nickname in the team.

Helio, you know, he lives for this. That’s what he lives for. It’s his passion. He loves Indy. He’s been very, very focused on trying to get his fourth win. So he’s back here. He’s been working on the simulator. He’s been studying everything, listening to what we have to say about the car. He’s fully ready. He’s very aggressive already. I think he’s just like a fish in the water.

I wish him good luck. I just hope he’s going to be just behind me. If I don’t win, I want him to win his fourth.

THE MODERATOR: Simon, thank you very much. We appreciate your time.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


“It is fun to be back out here. It was a busy day. Had a couple of weather issues, but we got a lot of laps. I think it was a good start for us in the Verizon Chevrolet. All of us did our own thing today which is a good thing. It means we can all come together tonight and pick apart everybody’s problems and hear everyone’s proposed solutions. The more we can put our minds together, the more we can fine-tune it, but the better we will be at the end of the week. Good start to build on.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 PENNZOIL TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: “We started right away with a good pace. Good job everyone. Running issue free. We still have a long way to go, but it was a very base test with the new car actually with traffic and everything. Looking forward to another day we continue to work and pursue that right result.”

No on-track time today

“We went through a lot of big stuff, zeroing in on what we need. We’ll make some changes overnight and continue down the path to try to make it good in traffic.”

“I’m glad the test ended up getting moved to two weeks ago instead of six weeks ago just to be a little bit more fresh from that. I felt pretty good. I’m still not completely confident in traffic. They’re trying to encourage me to use my tools and the bars, you know, the weight jacker and things. I need to feel the traffic first; before we create another variable as to what’s going on, I need to familiarize myself and get sharp again with the traffic and just the tendencies of the car. I felt like it was a really solid day. We tried a handful of things and found some stuff that worked. I feel like the car has a lot of good natural speed in it. It was very smooth.”

“Today was a slow day for us. We have a brand new car that we’ve been ‘massaging’ this entire season just to bring it out here. First days are always slow like this. We did a couple runs then you go back to the paddock and examine the car. Then, the rain came and we decided to end our day. The boys [on the #14 car] have been working very hard so we decided to give them a few hours off so that they can rest and we can begin fresh tomorrow. All in all, it was a good day for us. I’m happy with car. The balance of the car is pretty good. We will see what happens tomorrow.”

“It was kind of a weird day – I almost feel like this is Day Two for some reason! I was pretty happy starting off. As we always do around here, we made changes to try and get better. We probably got a little worse, then we finally got onto some things at the end of the day. That’s why we have to keep working out here and try to get the feel for what we want. All in all, it was a good first day. I need to go talk to my teammates and compare what we all got in to over the course of the day. For Day One, it’s a good start, but I feel like there’s a lot more in the car, too!”

“It was a pretty good day. We made a lot of changes and got a lot of reads on different things we wanted to test. We got a fair amount of running in traffic, behind a couple cars, then behind a dozen cars so lots of information for me to think about as well as the team. Overall, it’s a pretty solid start and hopefully we can get a lot more done tomorrow.”

“The 22 Menards car is looking really, really fast. It was a very productive day. So, yeah, felt pretty happy. We obviously still learning a lot about the aerodynamics of the car. It’s quite different to what we had the past few years. There’s still a lot to learn for everybody, I believe. But we’re on the right track.

“I tell you what, feel pretty confident already, which is a big step forward. It’s definitely important to be already ahead of the game if we have some weather this week. I think that could be very important.”

“It was a solid first day, despite dodging some weather and a couple of things here and there. We made some really good with the No. 23 Fiasp Chevrolet and I have a lot of confidence going into the rest of the week. We still have a long laundry list of test items to work through, but we seem to be addressing the big concerns. Now we’ll start focusing on the smaller things and start trying to find some lap time.”

“Car wasn’t too bad. It has a really good balance when I ran by myself. So we started with that and then tried to trim out and gain more speed by myself. Once I felt comfortable there, I ran with traffic. This was the first time I ran in traffic with the new car and it’s interesting. It looks like everyone is dealing with the same issue, which is the lack of front grip. These new cars, when you don’t have clean air, you lose a lot of front grip. That’s the battle for everyone right now is to find front grip. Overall, first day back and P6. We’re in the ballpark. Speeds or times don’t mean anything yet, but it’s good to see us high on the pylon is a good feeling. But, it’s early so hopefully we keep it up and we’ll see what happens.”

“So it wasn’t the perfect first day, but I am glad we got to go out and run some laps and get a feel for the car. The car felt fairly different from what we ran a couple of weeks ago because the conditions have changed, so it’s going to take a little bit of work to get the car back to where we like it. Overall we got to log some laps and collect some data. I know this is going to be important in qualifying for the race and then running the race. Overall I am happy, but there’s some work to be done. I am very happy the team got the NFP car together and there were no issues on track. I am looking forward to getting back out on track the rest of the week and getting ready for qualifying.”

“I think the 33 AJ Foyt/Byrd/Hollinger/Belardi team has a lot to be pleased with. For the majority or all of the one-off Indy entries, it’s been a mad scramble to get everyone’s cars together. Then of course you have a whole new crew that have got to gel together and build chemistry. These first days provide opportunities for gremlins to pop up, with the build of your car and so on and we had none of that. I’m very pleased with that, and any performance that we were able to show was just going to be a bonus. We ended up getting a good speed there, improved the car constantly through the day. I was holding on to do a 217 if I was lucky to begin with, when I first got in the car. Then I was much more comfortable with it and went a few miles per hour quicker straight away. Very proud of the team and looking forward to building on it again tomorrow, leading up to qualifying.”

“I’d say it was a productive first day of Indy 500 testing for the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet and really the whole Carlin team. We worked through a lot of things today that we wanted to check off our list and we ended the day in a good spot heading into tomorrow. Charlie had some quick times throughout the day, so we’ll sit down now and work through what worked and what didn’t and get ready to get back on track tomorrow morning.”

“I felt good today with the car. We got up to speed quickly. Lot of familiar faces for me here at Dreyer & Reinbold. I made my IndyCar debut with DRR back in 2010. We have a lot of the same guys I have worked with the last few years too at ECR. I felt good with how rolled out of the gates and it went from there.”

“Just finished up the first day of practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for opening day of the Indy 500 practice. We had a good time and we ended up eighth overall. It was a pretty decent session for us, just going through our checklist and working on a few things. It’s only our first day, so we can’t read too much into it but we’ve had a good start and shows good potential. I’m happy to continue our progression and looking forward to what tomorrow will bring!”