Here’s What Drivers Said after ‘Fast Friday’ practice for the Indy 500

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Here’s what most drivers had to say after the Fast Friday practice session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda) — fastest of the day: “The No. 98 car is fast in a tow. I’m not sure how fast it is on its own. Right now, I think we’re right on the bubble of the Fast Nine and we’re going to have to absolutely nail it to get it in – but so is everyone, I suppose. Conditions tomorrow could vary. It always depends on weather and cloud cover and the cooler temps always help. We’re lining up later in the day, so we’ll see how it goes.”

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Fast Friday is done. It was a pretty good day for us. The car has been feeling pretty fast since the beginning. I believe that we have a pretty solid set up for qualifying for the race. Looking forward to tomorrow. It’s going to be a long day, for sure, but we have a great car. I’m excited to set fast laps, and hopefully, advance to the Fast Nine on Sunday.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): “I think we learned a lot in the Arrow Electronics car today. Unfortunately, we learned that we were not as fast as we were hoping to be, but that’s the nature of the beast here. I think we have a really strong race car, and it’s less about being quick over 10 miles as it is being quick over 500. Tomorrow, we are going to do our best. Obviously, the guys put a lot of heart and soul into these cars for the 500… We want to go out there and do them proud, and put up good speed for four laps and see where it shakes out. But, at the end of the day, like I said, our big focus is obviously next Sunday, and hopefully, we are strong then.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): “We need to find a bit more speed in the Lucas Oil car. Until you can sit on top of the time sheets on merit here in Indianapolis, I don’t think you can ever relax. We have to work hard… Everyone is working hard, and we have to make sure we find that a little bit more than everyone else. At the moment, we are 10th or 11th with no tow, and our goal is to make the Fast Nine; we’ve been around there all day. I feel like we didn’t make enough progress today, so we have to have a hard think overnight and give it a shot at qualifying.”

JAY HOWARD (No. 7 One Cure SPM Honda): “Today was another good day. The One Cure car feels good in qualifying trim. I think we are ready, feeling pretty happy and we have a good plan for tomorrow. Hopefully, we qualify comfortably and we don’t have any dramas (laughter).”

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It was a long day and we went through a lot of changes in the NTT DATA car. The crew did a great job, especially today, working on the car and going back and forth to the garage with all the changes we made. I’m looking forward to qualifying tomorrow.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I think the No. 12 Verizon Chevy is definitely in a good window. I think, obviously, we’re fast. I know there’s a lot of guys up there. I think it’s going to be very tight tomorrow, so we’ll know more when everyone goes. It’s always that you can feel fast on Friday, and suddenly go out, no traffic, or wind changes or anything, and the car’s not as good. But I felt I’ve been good all month, so we’ll see tomorrow.”

DANICA PATRICK (No. 13 GoDaddy Chevrolet): “We started off the day with a mechanical issue, so we got a little delayed taking off, but it wasn’t really the worst thing because the car was really good on the first run. We did a step of trim and it was a little bit loose the second run, but still pretty good and definitely fast. To go to the next step, we had to make some changes back in the garage anyway, so we went back, and in that point in time, the track had slowed down and we just decided to sit for a while. We ended up coming to the conclusion that the car was pretty good and there was no reason to go out there and get lost or angry or confused because the speed was not in the track anymore. We just decided to, as they say, put a cover on it, make a couple tweaks and put a cover on it and go out tomorrow.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “It was a typical Fast Friday. We worked on the qualifying car, didn’t run a whole lot. We had five sets of Firestone tires so that means we only had 20 laps all day. We did five qualifying simulations. We’re getting ready for tomorrow, and we’ve got the information that we’ve got. We have to hope that it will be enough.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals Honda): “It was a tough day for us. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We don’t seem to have the pace. We’re trying everything we can possibly but we’re just not quite there yet.”

CONOR DALY (No. 17 United States Air Force Honda): “We feel pretty good with how our practice went today. The balance was good, right where we ended it yesterday, and today was just about trimming, and each step we trimmed, the car was comfortable. Do we have the overall speed of our teammate Sebastien (Bourdais)? Probably not, but we’re not too bad. We’re really happy with the car. We went through all the trim steps we wanted to do, and that was good, and I think on the no-tow report, we’re pretty OK, depending on what no-tow report you look at. But realistically, I think we’re in the top 20, which is where you need to be, so we’ll go from there.”

ZACHARY CLAMAN DEMELO (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): “Today was a good day for the No. 19 Paysafe car. We accomplished what we needed to heading into tomorrow, so we’re happy with that. But it’s also hard to know what to expect going into qualifying because the weather is going to be a lot different. That said, I’m confident we can put in a good performance and come out with a decent qualifying result.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “Today was a good day. Fast Fridays have a way of being odd, so we just had to be smart. The team has done a really good job of getting us to this point. All three of us have good cars that we are happy with. The speeds are a little all over the place today, but I feel like all the ECR cars have a chance to be in the shootout come Sunday. The focus is getting it right for tomorrow and make all the right decisions so we have a chance at it on Sunday.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Fiasp Chevrolet): “Today was about being smart and methodical as we trimmed the car out to qualifying spec with the higher boost level for Fast Friday. The Carlin boys have done an incredible job preparing for this week and really the whole month. They haven’t put a foot wrong with the car and we’ve been able to make progress all week each and every time we go on track. I have a lot of confidence about where we are heading into this qualifying weekend. I’m excited for what tomorrow and Sunday are going to bring for the No. 23 Fiasp Chevrolet.”

STEFAN WILSON (No. 25 #Driven2SaveLives Honda): “Yesterday was a bit of a tough day, so it was great to come back today. We struggled a bit initially, but I think we really hit on something. I’m extremely thankful to the team for really pushing us forward and it’s really nice to have quick teammates that have been able to give me good setups to work off. Now we just have to focus on tomorrow and put our best foot forward and work to put it in the show.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Relay Group 1001 Honda): “Our practice week has come to a close with Fast Friday. I think we’re in a pretty good spot to see what speed we can show tomorrow. Our goal has been the same all week – just put a package together that can get us into the top nine. We’re looking inside there by a small bit right now. I think with the right changes overnight, it’s a possibility. We’ll see how the day unfolds and what the conditions are like tomorrow.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “Today was another improvement overall, I think. P2 on the no-tow, and second quickest Honda is kind of where we’ve been, but I think the car is definitely a step better. All we’re focusing on is qualifying and, I think, if we execute tomorrow we can be in the Fast Nine and that’s the goal right now. Hopefully there’s no curveballs that prevent that from happening. Hopefully the weather stays consistent so what we learned today is as useful tomorrow.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “All the speed in the car is not really where we were hoping to be – but we made some gains early in the day. We’re just trying to eek out as much as we can. We’ll see, tomorrow will be a different day and a different wind direction. We’ll put our best foot forward and hopefully qualify somewhere mid-pack. I think that’s the best we can hope for at the moment. On a positive note, we qualified 19th here in 2014 (when I won the Indy 500), so as long as we have a good race car – that’s what matters.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 29 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda): “I think I’m really happy with the balance of the car right now. We just need to find a bit more speed compared to some of our teammates. But, this is Indy, I think… sometimes you just don’t understand why things happen. One day to another everything can change. The goal tomorrow is going to be as far to the front as possible. It is going to be hard to get into the Fast Nine, but we will see what we can do.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda): “Fast Friday is always exciting. You go five or six mph faster on average with higher boost, suddenly the corner you are looking at is suddenly tighter, but I love this kind of sensation of speed and trying to work specifically only for the speed. We used multiple sets of new tires, made short runs for qualifying and we’re still not satisfied with our speed relatively but we made good progress. We will see all the data tonight, and hopefully, it will all come together for qualifying.”

KYLE KAISER (No. 32 NFP / Juncos Racing Chevrolet): “Overall, we had another really solid day. We are making progress and slowly inching toward where we need to be for qualifying. We definitely had a speed bump in the middle of the day. I think we lulled ourselves into an area we shouldn’t have been, but we rebounded. We went out towards the end of the day and found a pretty solid setup that I feel really comfortable with. I think it will be good enough to get us into the field for the race. I am very happy with the team. They have been working hard to get the car ready and I am ready to go for tomorrow.”

JAMES DAVISON (No. 33 Jonathan Byrd’s 502 East Chevrolet): (About what he felt before the crash): “Absolutely nothing, then I was backwards, so that was definitely a new experience for me here around at Indy or driving on ovals, in general. I guess I became one of the drivers to slam the wall at Indianapolis, so I joined the club today. Obviously, it’s not ideal, but we had to try some things. We’re 32nd quickest, right on the bubble and we are not going to go faster just standing there and looking at it, so no regrets there. I have been having a fantastic time with this AJ Foyt/Byrd/Hollinger/Belardi team. We’ll regroup, see what we can pull out of the bag tomorrow and give it everything again.” (About if he’s going to a back-up car): “It’s just too early for me to tell. From the damage that I saw, I didn’t see that the tub was hurt. I think the biggest thing that you always hope for is the gearbox isn’t, generally the back-up stuff is not going to be as good or fast, so we’ll just have to have a look and go from there.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): “It was an unusual day today for Fast Friday. We had predicted that the weather would make it a short day, so we got a lot of our running done earlier in the day. We didn’t run the last few hours of Fast Friday actually. We feel comfortable with the car balance, but we don’t know where we are performance-wise because the time of day when people ran made a big difference. I’m feeling confident about where we are and we didn’t want to take any silly risks today with big changes, because we want to make sure the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet is in the show tomorrow.”

JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM MSR w/SPM Honda): “With the number of laps we’ve done so far, we went into today well prepared. We got most of our qualifying sims done yesterday and today was really just fine tuning for qualifying. The guys have been doing a great job to give me a solid car. We are hoping to put everything we’ve learned in practice together for a good run tomorrow.”

PIPPA MANN (No. 63 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “Today was definitely the toughest day we’ve had so far, and unfortunately, it’s the day right before qualifying for the Donate Life Dale Coyne Racing No. 63 car. The handling of the car feels OK, we’re just really struggling to get the speed that we need from the car in qualifying trim. Tomorrow is another day, and hopefully, with the heat on the racetrack, making it more difficult for everyone will play into our favor because we feel like we have a fairly good handle on the car in those conditions.”

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 64 Scuderia Corsa/Manitowoc Honda): “Fast Friday has come and gone. The day goes quicker than you want. We still had a couple things to try for tomorrow’s qualifying, but I am pretty pleased. We finished fourth fastest with a little bit of tow on that lap. So right now, I think if we make everything right, tomorrow we may have a shot at top nine. But again, we have to get everything perfect in the four laps. If not, we may be just missing that line. We still have a lot of data to look at overnight and try to make a good guess for tomorrow. The weather should be good enough for at least letting everyone try a couple attempts. So, hopefully, we get everything right and make that top nine for qualifying.”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): “Fun day at the track for Fast Friday, one of the most fun days, as we get an increase in horsepower and a nice increase in speed. We got a lot of work done to make sure we’re competitive in qualifying, so I think we found a good place with our car. Tomorrow we should be pretty decent and competitive, so hopefully we can get some good weather that cooperates with us so we can get all of qualifying in and see where we stack up, where we’ll line up for the Indy 500.”

2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona: Schedule, TV info, start times, entry lists, notable drivers, more

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The new year brings the start of a new era for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which will open the 2023 schedule with the 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

A new premier class for prototypes is the overriding story entering the 24-hour endurance race that unofficially kicks off the major-league racing season.

The new Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh) cars of the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) top category will re-establish a bridge to the 24 Hours of Le Mans while bringing a new layer of engine electrification to IMSA.

With at least a few of the cars on the grid at Daytona also slated to race at Le Mans in June, it’s possible for the first time in decades (since the “Ford vs. Ferrari” battles) to have the same car win the overall title at Daytona and Le Mans.

The GTP category will feature four manufacturers, two of which are new to IMSA’s premier division. Porsche Motorsport (with Team Penske) and BMW (with Rahal Letterman Lanigan) will be fielding LMDh prototypes, joining (now-defunct) DPi category holdovers Acura (Meyer Shank Racing, Wayne Taylor Racing) and Cadillac (Chip Ganassi Racing, Action Express Racing).

Here’s what else you need to know ahead of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener Jan. 29-30 at Daytona International Speedway:


NOTABLE DRIVER ADDITIONS 

The Rolex 24 will feature 10 active drivers from the NTT IndyCar Series, including the IMSA debuts of Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin, who will be teamed in an LMP2 entry (teammate Will Power unfortunately had to withdraw from this debut).

Colton Herta will move into the GTP category with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud return with Meyer Shank Racing to defend their overall 2022 Rolex 24 victory. Scott Dixon also returns in the premier category with Chip Ganassi Racing for his 20th Rolex 24 start and third consecutive in the No. 01 Cadillac.

Other IndyCar drivers in the field: Romain Grosjean will make his debut in GTD Pro with Iron Lynx Racing (as a precursor to driving a GTP Lamborghini next year); Devlin DeFrancesco (Rick Ware Racing) and Rinus VeeKay (TDS Racing) are in LMP2; and Kyle Kirkwood will return in GTD with Vasser Sullivan.

Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric also will return, teaming with DeFrancesco in an LMP2 entry for Rick Ware Racing.


CAR COUNT

The Rolex 24 field was capped at 61 cars, matching last year’s field (which was the largest since 2014). The field was capped because of the space limitations for the LMDh cars of GTP in the pits and garages.

Click here for the official 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona entry list.


STARTING LINEUP

Tom Blomqvist captured the first pole position of the GTP era, qualifying defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing in first with the No. 60 ARX-06 Acura that he shares with Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud.

The No. 7 Porsche 963 of Porsche Penske Motorsports will start second.

Click here for the 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona starting lineup


RACE BROADCAST

The 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona will be streamed across the NBC Sports AppNBCSports.com and Peacock, which will have coverage of the event from flag to flag.

Broadcast coverage of the race coverage will begin Saturday, Jan. 28 at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC and move to USA Network from 2:30-8 p.m. and then will be exclusively on Peacock and IMSA.TV from 8-10 p.m. Coverage will return to USA Network from 10 p.m. to midnight and then move to Peacock/IMSA.TV until 6 a.m.

From 6 a.m. until noon on Sunday, Jan. 29, Rolex 24 coverage will be available on USA Network. The conclusion of the Rolex 24 will run from noon through 2 p.m. on NBC.

HOW TO WATCH IMSA ON NBC SPORTS: Broadcast schedule for 2023

Other events that will be streamed on Peacock from Daytona during January (all times ET):

Jan. 21: IMSA VP Racing Sports Car Challenge, 2:05 p.m.

Jan. 22: IMSA VP Racing Sports Car Challenge, 12:20 p.m.

Jan. 22: IMSA Rolex 24 qualifying, 1:25 p.m.

Jan. 27: BMW Endurance Michelin Pilot Challenge, 1:45 p.m.


ROLEX 24 COVERAGE FROM NBC SPORTS

Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi take their storied rivalry to a new level at Daytona

Pfaff Motorsports returns to Rolex 24 in premier parking spot punching above its weight

Cadillac, Acura battle for top of the speed charts

Herta, Rahal team up with BMW in pursuit of overall win at Rolex 24

Wayne Taylor Racing takes a step up to the next level with Andretti Autosport

Austin Cindric seeks to join legendary club of Rolex 24-Daytona 500 winners

Helio Castroneves recalls “Days of Thunder” moment in 2022 Rolex 24 victory

The “Bus Bros” tackle the “Bus Stop” for Rolex 24 at Daytona debuts

Romain Grosjean adds Rolex 24 at Daytona to his crown jewel career

Tom Blomqvist beats the clock to win Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position

GTP cars make debut in “Gymkhana”-level traffic

Five things to watch in the new GTP class as a golden era of sports cars returns

Cadillac unveils paint schemes for LMDh cars

Austin Cindric, Devlin DeFrancesco, Pietro Fittipaldi teaming up in LMP2

IndyCar drivers in the 61st Rolex 24


ROLEX 24 DAILY SCHEDULE, START TIMES

Here’s a rundown of everything happening at Daytona International Speedway over the last two weeks in January, starting with the Roar test session. Rolex 24 start times and full schedule:

Wednesday, Jan. 18

7 a.m.: GTP garages open

4 p.m.: Non-GTP garages open

4 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship haulers load-in (park only)

6:30 p.m.: Non-GTP garages close

9:30 p.m.: GTP garages close

Thursday, Jan. 19

7 a.m.: Garages, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship haulers open

8:30 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship safety inspection

10 a.m.: Rolex 24 Media Day

2 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge driver and team manager briefing

3 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver and team manager briefing

5:15 p.m.: Track walk

7:30 p.m.: Non-GTP garages close

9:30 p.m.: GTP garages close

Friday, Jan. 20

7 a.m.: Garages open

8:45-9:15 a.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge practice

9:30-10:45 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

1:45-2:15 p.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge practice

2:30-4 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

4:15-6 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice (GTD/LMP3/LMP2 4:15-5:45; 4:30-6: GTD Pro, GTP)

8 p.m.: Non-GTP garages close

9:30 p.m.: GTP garages close

Saturday, Jan. 21

7 a.m.: Garages open

8:40-9:15 a.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge qualifying

9:30-11 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

2:05-2:50 p.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge, Race 1 (streaming on Peacock)

3:10 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

4:30-5:30 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

6:30-8:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

10 p.m.: Garages close

Sunday, Jan. 22

7 a.m.: Garages open

10:15-11:15 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

12:20-1:05 p.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge, Race 2 (streaming on Peacock)

1:25-3 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 qualifying (streaming on Peacock)

8:30 p.m.: Garages close

Wednesday, Jan. 25

6 a.m.: Garages open

7:30-10 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship safety inspection, non-GTP

8 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 load-in

10-11:30 a.m.: Track walk

10 a.m.-noon: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship car photos

11:30 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge team manager briefing

Noon: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship team manager briefing

12:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship new driver briefing

Noon-2 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship safety and technical inspection, non-GTP

1:45-2:30 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

2:45-3:45 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

2:30-7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship safety inspection, GTP only

4-5:30 p.m.: Track walk

6:45 p.m.: Garages close

Thursday, Jan. 26

7 a.m.: Garages open

9-9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

9:45-10:45 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

11:05 a.m.-12:35 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:55-1:10 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 qualifying

2:25-3 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge qualifying

3:20-5:05 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice (3:20-5:05: GTD, LMP3, LMP2; 3:35-5:05: GTD Pro, GTP)

5:30-6:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

7:15-9 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

10:15 p.m.: Garages close

Friday, Jan. 27

7 a.m.: Garages open

9:25-9:55 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

10:15-11 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:30 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge driver and team manager briefing

11:20 a.m.-12:20 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

1:45-5:45 p.m.: BMW M Endurance Challenge at Daytona (Michelin Pilot Challenge; streaming on Peacock)

8:45 p.m.: Garages close

Saturday, Jan. 28

6:30 a.m.: Garages open

9:45 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver and team manager briefing

12:30-12:40 p.m.: Rolex 24 engine warmup

1:30-1:40 p.m.: Rolex 24 formation laps

1:40 p.m.: The 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona (starting on NBC; streaming flag to flag on Peacock)

Sunday, Jan. 29

1:40 p.m.: Finish of the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona

7:30 p.m.: Garages close