Notes and Quotes From Indy 500 Practice From May 18

Ryan WordenFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - MAY 15: Scott Dixon (L) and Dario Franchitti of Chip Ganassi Racing chat with a crew member during opening day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 15, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.   (Photo by Ron Hoskins/Getty Images)
Ron Hoskins/Getty Images

Despite a very cold and wet day in Indianapolis on Tuesday, the IZOD Indycar Series was able to take to the track for a nearly full day of practice.  A slight delay to dry the track pushed back the start to 1:06pm, but the cars were able to run for the rest of the day relatively uninterrupted.

36 cars pounded the diamond etched pavement for a total of 1590 laps on the day, nearly as many as had been run in the first three days combined (it's been a rainy week).  The top 21 drivers on the speed charts were all within .5755 seconds of each other, as drivers concentrated on race setups and driving in packs.

Scott Dixon topped the scoring chart, posting a lap of 226.55 mph.  Just behind him was Mario Moraes, driving for KV Racing.  Moraes posted a lap of 225.91 mph before things went very downhill for KV.

For KV, a day that started well ended with more headaches than the four car team needs.  Moraes spun in the middle of practice, doing some slight damage to the car, and ending his day of practice.  However, it was later in the day when EJ Viso found the wall that really wrecked the day. 

With just 10 minutes left in practice, the No. 8 PDVSA car slammed hard into the wall coming out of turn one.  Viso was taken immediately to Methodist Hospital where it was recently revealed that nothing was broken.  Viso will be recovering and is expected back at the track later this week.  The car didn't fair as well and will need a near total rebuild.

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Andretti Autosport turned plenty of laps in all five of their cars today as they searched for the correct race setup.  Marco Andretti lead the team, posting the third fastest speed on the day.  "I think we're getting there, but it's still quite early for the Venom car.  We're getting a lot of answers on things in testing... We're also trying to prepare for the warmer weather that's supposed to be coming."

Andretti is referring to the five day forecast that shows a major warmup over the 58 degree temperatures the track saw today.  Pole day on Saturday has a forecasted high of 80 degrees, while Sunday is expected to be near 90.  The cars will lose a lot of down force as the track heats up, and the tires will have greater slipping.

This could explain why Ganassi and Penske Racing ran a limited schedule today.  Their cars saw little track time, mostly concentrating on simulated pit stops.  With highs expected in the mid 70's on Thursday and Friday, the teams will be looking for much greater speed in conditions similar to pole day.

Ed Carpenter and Panther Racing were able to add an associate sponsor to the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka car, when DEEM joined the effort.  The Indiana mechanical and electrical company helped the team come in 21st on the speed chart today.  Carpenter was frustrated though, noting, "We found out we have a lot less tires available to us than we thought we were going to be allotted for the month so we only used on set of tires today.  I really would have liked to have run a lot more... but I'm happy with the progress we are making."

Carpenter went on to opine on what many had been wondering, how drivers felt about the new format.  "I finally realized that I really don't like this new two week format.  I prefer having a week to work on qualifying and a week to work on the race setup.  It feels weird this year.  I think I've made up my mind that I am not a fan of this shortened format for May."

While other drivers have been quieter on their discomfort with the new format, the sentiment appears to be common.  The wet weather appears to be the main reason, as teams are worried they will not have enough time on track.

Despite the concerns, teams must carry on tomorrow, with another challenging day with the weather.  Highs are expected to stay under 70 and the chance for rain and scattered storms continue.  If you can't make it to the track, you can watch practice live on Indycar.com.  Pole day airs live on Versus at 11am on Saturday when 24 cars will propel their way into the field.

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