Team Chevy Drivers Continue to Show Speed in Practice for Indianapolis 500 as James Hinchcliffe Takes Turn as Fastest of the Day
INDIANAPOLIS (May 14, 2013) – Changing track conditions with higher temperatures, and stronger wind did not deter Team Chevy drivers from making use of every valuable minute of track time today as qualifying for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 inches closer.
James Hinchcliffe, behind the wheel of the No.25 RC Cola Andretti Autosport Chevrolet normally piloted by Marco Andretti, set the fast lap of the day at 224.210 m.p.h.
Hinchcliffe was followed closely by fellow Chevrolet IndyCar V6 powered driver JR Hildebrand in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet. Andretti, was third quick of the day back in his No. 25 Chevrolet.
Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet was fourth on the speed charts followed by defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 1 DHL Andretti Autosport Chevrolet who put up the fifth fastest speed of the day.
In all, nine Team Chevy drivers occupied the top-10 fastest at the end of Practice Session Four with E.J. Viso, Carlos Munoz, Oriol Servia and A.J. Allmendinger all turning in strong laps.
Pole Day for the Indianapolis 500 is set for Saturday, May 18, 2013 when not only will the pole sitter be crowned, but also the fastest 24 cars and drivers locked into the field.
Practice will continue Wednesday, May 15, 2013, from noon to 6:00 p.m. EDT.
CHEVROLET DRIVER QUOTES – PRACTICE DAY THREE:
POST PRACTICE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NO. 27 GODADDY ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET:
JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 4 NATIONAL GUARD PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET:
TALK ABOUT THE SPEED ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT HAS HAD OVER THE SEVERAL DAYS OF PRACTICE:
HINCHCLIFFE: “I guess we are good at playing tow wars. It is what it is. Every day you get guys going out there and getting a little bit of I don’t know… did you genuinely do a 223?”
HILDEBRAND: “Of course.”
HINCHCLIFFE: “So, now I’m a little nervous because Marco’s (Andretti) angry not only did I like rock the big tow, which he is famous for, I did it in his car. Marco ‘Towdretti’ is a little upset with me right now (laughs). No, obviously it’s going to be up there, but at the end of the day those numbers don’t mean a lot right now. It’s about the work you do on the race car and making sure that you are going to be good not over one lap, but over 200 in a couple of weeks.”
THERE IS BIG MONEY AND PRESTIGE OF WINNING THE POLE. THAT IS IMPORTANT, BUT I WILL SAY THIS EDDIE CHEEVER USED TO ALWAYS SAY ‘WHY SHOULDN’T WE PRACTICE LIKE WE RACE?’ WHEN YOU RACE YOU ARE IN TOWS SO THAT STILL SEEMS TO BE PRETTY IMPORTANT:
HILDEBRAND: “Well, I think especially with qualifying sort of Friday/Saturday situation with added boosts and blah, blah, blah being the way that it is. I think that is why you see a lot of that over these first few days. Besides just generally making the car better and kind of trying to go into Thursday/Friday with some idea of what is going to happen when you qualify it all totally changes. We basically spent the entire day just trying to run around in some form of traffic. Not trying to put big laps up, but just trying to understand how the car works behind, one car, two cars, three cars, four cars and different speeds of cars. It was nice for us at the end of the day to kind of be able to join in the midst of the Andretti tow battle that goes on daily. At some point because at the end of the day you want to figure out how your car is kind of going to work with other cars that you think you might be able to race with. That is where a lot of the speed comes from. That is where the focus I think generally is going to be. You saw a lot of it yesterday, today and probably mostly tomorrow.”
WHEN YOU RUN SO MANY LAPS OUT THERE IN RACE SIMULATION YOU ARE ONLY ALLOWED 32 SETS OF TIRES FOR THE MONTH OR 33. HOW DO YOU MANAGE ALL THAT?
HINCHCLIFFE: “We work backwards at the start of the month. We set aside what we need for the race. We set aside what you need for qualifying day and bump day depending on because you don’t know how your weekend is going to go. You can’t assume anything. I think that is why you see normally everybody kind of goes out at the end of the day and does one full run, maybe two if you have budgeted two that day. It kind of works out to one or two sets for the end of the day for that kind of thing. You try and do it in the most realistic conditions for what you think race day is going to be. Obviously, today is the hottest day that we’ve had which was good. We needed to get a hot, nasty, slick race track and we are starting to get that. We don’t know what it’s going to do on race day yet. We have obviously done some running in the cooler weather now. If we do some running and can work on the car in the hot weather then we can be prepared for whatever Memorial Day throws at us.”
HILDEBRAND: “I would say the same thing. You look at what your tire budget basically is. The time of the month you eat up the most tires is when you are getting ready for qualifying because you are not running a set of tires for more than a run or maybe two at the maximum. I think depending on what the conditions are like and how fast we are actually going on Friday and Saturday is probably just going to be one run per set of tire type of thing. Days like today where you are doing a lot of race running you are actually not, even though there is a lot of laps being spent you are not really going through more tires than you would be on a standard day.”
SO IF YOU FIGURE 12 SETS FOR THE RACE AND THEN ANOTHER 7/8 YOU WOULD FIGURE ON BUMP AND POLE DAY. SO THAT LEAVES WHAT 13 SETS THAT YOU CAN KIND OF GO OUT THERE AND BURN UP DURING THIS WEEK?
HILDEBRAND: “Yeah, I mean you are sort of looking through like 12 to 15 sets of tires that you use at some point for some reason. You try to hang on to some if you think that you can obviously. Yeah, it also depends on where there is kind of … it’s not a game, but there is a bit of a mix of where people are at on engine mileage and so that plays some role into how many laps you are actually trying to do or not. I would imagine, for teams that have multiple cars they are probably all slightly different on mileage and that is a big piece of how you play it for sure.”
HINCHCLIFFE: “Yeah, exactly right. The engine mileage certainly plays a role and if you have a really bad change that means you have to go back to the garage and change your run plan for a day. It means the next day you have an extra set of tires. It’s kind of a fluid situation, but call it two sets a day plus or minus depending on how your program is going.”
ALL THE STUFF YOU ARE TRYING DURING THE PRACTICE RUNS HOW MUCH IS THIS RELATED TO THE WEATHER? LET’S SAY DURING QUALIFYING OR RACE IT WILL BE EXTREMELY COOLER OR HOTTER CAN YOU THROW EVERYTHING AWAY AND START WITH ZERO AGAIN?
HINCHCLIFFE: “I guess, kind of yeah, unfortunately this track is a cruel mistress and she is very temperamental and very sensitive to weather. Obviously, we have been battling a lot of windy conditions on top of the varying temperatures which definitely throws a bit of a curve ball. I mean today was a completely different direction. It’s pretty nerve racking. That is where I think experience comes into it. Not only on the driver’s side, but on the team side because the teams that have a massive book of data from tons of years and lots of different cars you can look at trends in weather and what the track does. I think
that goes certainly a long way and maybe the teams with a bit more experience will be better suited for qualifying day if all of a sudden the conditions are vastly different.”
HILDEBRAND: “Yeah, when you look at it, when you talk about weather, you talk about basically the wind is kind of a factor that you can’t account for much one way or the other. Besides gearing strategy you are not making set up changes based on it being windy or not. Otherwise in terms of how hot it is you are looking at track temperature. A day like today it definitely started getting a little greasy out there. The track was feeling a little bit slicker particularly in (turns) one and two. Otherwise the big angle is how hot it is changes the air densities that changes what kind of downforce and drag you are looking at. That is something that at the end of the day we have a lot of data about what different temperatures how that relates to how much downforce the car should be making when we go back out. You saw a lot of teams when it was colder out doing their race runs with a lot less wing in the car and things like that. That is to try to simulate the downforce that you would be making if it gets hotter out with more wing in it. Those are all things that at the end of the day they are just estimates on how the car is going to feel. Our engineers would like to tell us I think that they are totally dialed in and feel great.”
WHAT WEATHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE PERSONALLY? HOT OR COLD OR MEDIUM TEMPERATURE WISE?
HILDEBRAND: “I don’t know I would prefer like a nice kind of 70 degree day.”
HINCHCLIFFE: “Yeah that would be nice. 70-74 degrees, a little breeze, some cloud cover, but nothing, generally sunny. Partly cloudy I guess.”
HILDEBRAND: “Winds down the straights not down the short shoots.”
WHEN YOU GUYS ARE IN THE TOW THIS YEAR IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CLOSING RATE NOW THAT YOU HAVE A YEAR UNDER YOUR BELT WITH THE CAR THIS YEAR COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?
HILDEBRAND: “To be honest with you it is very difficult to tell until you are actually in the race to really know what is going on. I mean I know last year… because you are dealing with, you are rarely in a group of cars that is the like speed that you are going to be at. When you are running around in practice there are a couple of cars in front of you that are a mile and hour and a half slower than you. Then there is somebody that is a lot faster than you. That creates kind of weird situation to figure out how the draft is going to work. I think the fact that the speeds generally are a little bit faster will make the race better. It will be less of kind of like musical chairs. You know you can’t pull away, all that kind of stuff. It will be more of a real race at that point and less of a kind of lottery up at the front of the pack. But, like I said, we don’t really know that until we get to race day. I thought the cars all around watching you guys running around in a draft ourselves. I think they feel pretty racy which is nice and it gives the driver something to kind of work on as far as how to make it work at one end of the track or the other.”
HINCHCLIFFE: “Yeah, I think maybe compared to, I know when we first got our hands on these things here last year we were talking about quicker closing rates than the old car. I think part of that fast forward a year right now I think guys are running at much lower downforce levels than we were at this time last year. Just because we didn’t know the car yet, we were kind of building up to it. So when you are running around with a bunch of drag, yeah sure, the closing rates are a lot higher. I completely agree with JR (Hildebrand) that it’s going to be a lot less kind of the musical chairs approach and good cars are going to find their way to the front. Those are going to be very easily identifiable I think on Sunday.”
ARE YOU GUYS FIGURING NOBODY IS GOING TO REALLY BE TRYING QUALIFYING RUNS OR QUALIFYING SIMS UNTIL FRIDAY?
HINCHCLIFFE: “Thursday/Friday you know it’s one of those things. Like JR (Hildebrand) says when you are running at that trim you can really only do one run safely on a set of tires, maybe two. So, I think Thursday you will see the first run on every set of tires be a qualifying simulation. Then go back to your race set up and pan around for the rest of the life of the tires and repeat. Obviously, until we get the engine modifications nobody is really testing the actual limits yet. That is kind of the only time it makes sense to really go for it.”
BACK UNDER THE OLD SCHEDULE WHEN IT WAS TWO WEEKS OF PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING IT’S ALMOST LIKE WHAT EVERYBODY WOULD DO THE SECOND WEEK THEN WHICH WOULD BE RACE RUNS THEY ARE NOW DOING MOST OF THIS WEEK BEFORE QUALIFYING. IS THAT PRETTY MUCH THE WAY IT SEEMS TO YOU GUYS?
HILDEBRAND: “Yeah, I think basically at some point you kind of start to trim and figure out what the car, what the tendency of the car is going to be. Last year frankly, I didn’t think that with the boost increase that didn’t drastically change the way that the car worked. We were still basically at maximum trim level before we had the extra boost and then afterwards. Depending on how much faster the cars go we might cross over that threshold. Certainly at some point we will. If we roll out and the cars will go 230 (m.p.h.) certainly that changes the situation. But, to your point we basically just won’t know that until Friday. I don’t think that anybody will spend too much time being overly concerned with it until then.”
MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 25 RC COLA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “I think today went well. I’m quite pleased with how things are going for us so far. Working with the car in the heat of the day can be challenging, but we made a lot of progress to get where we are. We are going to continue to look at things and try to be faster by race day.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO 3 SHELL V-POWER PENNZOIL ULTRA TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: ON PRACTICE: “It was another good day today for the Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Chevrolet, we feel we’ve identified the places where we can improve and so now we have to continue working. Finishing near the top yesterday and today shows we hopefully have the consistency that it takes to win the race in the end.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 1 DHL ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “It’s certainly getting interesting now with the heat and the wind. Conditions are changing every day so it’s keeping the team on our toes, and we’re just trying a lot of different settings now. We have five cars so we have a lot of options and, I think, as we work through the week we’ll work ourselves into a good car. But it’s a work in progress.”
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: ON PRACTICE: “We put in another steady day of work on the Verizon Chevrolet. We feel as though we are making progress on our set-up. It was a good day at the office and definitely a beautiful day here at Indy. Hopefully we get more of the same tomorrow.”
CARLOS MUÑOZ, NO. 26 UNISTRAW ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “It was another good day of practicing a few different race simulations; I learned a lot on each of them. The conditions were hotter today then that last few practice sessions, so I had to adjust with each of the new tests. The track had a lot less grip, but that is something we need to keep working on in the upcoming days. There are still a lot of days left to figure out which run is going to work, but my team is working really hard to find the best one. I’m feeling more and more comfortable with the No. 26 Unist
raw Chevy, and I think our team is doing a good job, but we need to take it day-by-day. Each time I go out on-track I’m gaining more confidence, especially on the race runs with my teammates and other drivers.”
E.J. VISO, NO. 5 TEAM VENEZUELA PDVSA CITGO ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT HVM CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “Very long day for me today; I completed 134 laps – it’s enough to get the engine swapped. Anyways, it was a very good, productive day. We went through some tests…which we found some good answers. We did a couple of long runs with the rest of the Andretti Autosport guys, and we are still finding new answers every time we go on a run together. Today was a little bit hotter than the other days, and the weather predictions say that race day is going to be even a bit hotter than today. So I think the running that we did today was pretty productive to gather some data.”
A.J. ALLMENDINGER, NO. 2 IZOD TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “Today was the first day it has been warm outside which was something I had not experienced yet. The track changed throughout the day, getting slicker than it’s been on the cooler days but we were able to make adjustments to the IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet that helped us put down some pretty good laps. I was able to learn a lot with a lot of cars on the track today, which obviously critical for me as we get close to the race. Productive day in all but I still have a lot to learn.”
ORIOL SERVIA, NO. 22 MECUM AUCTIONS PANTHER DREYER AND REINBOLD RACING CHEVROLET: “It’s starting to get interesting out there. The track was very hot – up to 130 degrees at some points. It makes things a lot more difficult but that’s how race conditions are going to be. We lose a lot of downforce when it gets hot like this and it just gets tougher to get a good set up. It still was a great day. We were running in the top five most of the day so I’m very pleased. Third day of running for us and we have excellent notes. I’m very happy with where we are.”
TOWNSEND BELL, NO. 60 SUNOCO “TURBO” PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET: “It’s just great to be back out here with Panther Racing, we’ve got so much support from Sunoco and Turbo and they’ve all given me a great opportunity to be in good equipment. I was in Laguna Seca this weekend, and the Panther guys handled every little detail so we were ready to roll when I got back. In a lot of ways it was like I never left – it’s still John Barnes running the organization and they still have a lot of great people. I just love coming (to Indianapolis) and luckily this is my seventh time and it starts to feel pretty normal after awhile. Although the first outing I don’t think I took a breath for a good three-and-a-half minutes, but the car feels really good so far.”