IZOD IndyCar Series Points Leader Will Power topped the charts today with a speed of 227.778 (mph) for the fastest lap of the day and the month so far.
“I don’t think the speeds are very representative of where anyone is at,” Power said. “You go out and happen to get a really good tow, and you get a big number. That’s what happened at the end. Verizon Team Penske worked on race setup most of the day. I was very comfortable following cars. We haven’t changed much from last year. We had good cars last year and need to rub on them a little bit, and that will do the trick.”
With the shortened practice time, teams are having to change their strategy.
“I think tomorrow, early on, we’ll be working on race stuff, and then we’ll start trimming out for qualifying,” Power continued. “We’ll be working on the car. I think it’s pretty important to focus on the race. You could spend a lot of time screwing around with qualifying things, and then it’ll be different conditions the next day. We have to have a good car in the race. That’s what we’ll be focusing on.”
Alex Tagliani remained near the top of the time sheet as he ranked second with a quick lap of 227.652.
“We did well today,” Tagliani said. “We learned a lot. We had good track position, and we weren’t in a lot of traffic. That lap (227.652 mph), I was behind Dario Franchitti, so I had a bit of a tow. But it shows that the car is quick and capable of doing it. I think we still have more to come. We just need to make sure that when it comes time to do it, we have the right balance.”
Tagliani feels that he has a good shot for the pole.
“The way the car is running right now, for sure it is,” Tagliani added. “I think we would be foolish to think that we couldn’t do it. But the truth is that Penske and Ganassi have really good cars, and they know their way around this place. They have 10 times more experience than us. I’m sure by qualifying they’re going to do something amazing to their cars, and all of a sudden they’re going to be up to the top and we’re going to end up fighting with them. But if that happens, that’s OK. We should be proud that guys like Roger and Chip are looking at us, going, ‘Why are those guys so quick?’ That’s kind of our mindset right now.”
Power’s Penkse Racing teammate Briscoe was third with 227.217.
“It was a very good day, overall,” Briscoe said. “We worked on the race setup on the No. 6 IZOD Team Penske car, and I worked a lot with my teammates on track. We made a ton of changes throughout the day, and we were very productive. We trimmed out the car at the end of the session and focused a bit more on speed. All in all, it was a very productive day.”
Three time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves was fourth (226.927).
“It was certainly a good and full day for the No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra team,” Castroneves said. “We ran a lot of laps and all of them were really about race setup. My teammates, Will and Ryan, did some qualifying runs so we know what we need to do there, but we really just focused on getting our car right for the race. Tomorrow will be all about speed for us. It’s going to be fun!”
Townsend Bell rounded out the top five with a speed of 226.741mph.
“We did a good amount of running,” Bell said. “It was good to get out with the Herbalife car after the rain the last two days. We learned a lot and tried several things that were on our list. We’ve very comfortable.”
The sesson did not go without incident as Simona de Silvestro made heavy contact with the outside wall, before going airborne and catching fire. She was transported to Methodist Hospital to be treated for burns to her hands and released.
Team owner Keith Wiggins stated that the car de Silvestro was damaged beyond the repair as they’ll have to go to a back-up car.
“We can build a good car, but it probably won’t be as good as the original car because that was built specifically for here,” Wiggins said. “There are a lot of specialties about building a car for here, and we only had one of those built because that is all our resources will allow. So the question is will this car be as quick as the other one? That’s the challenge.”