Here’s What Drivers Said after Friday’s Carb Day final practice for the Indy 500

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Many of the drivers that took part in Friday’s Carb Day, the final day of practice for Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500, weren’t very talkative afterward.

But we still have more than half the field who did have something to say afterward.

Check out What Drivers Said (courtesy IndyCar PR):

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): “We were just running through the program. We had to do an install first lap, then we did some pit stops. Then we got into our test program trying different things. There wasn’t anything wrong. We have some work to do, for sure. Today was pretty good for track conditions compared to where we have been. We have to make some adjustments. By no means are we in no-man’s land.” (About James Hinchcliffe being in his pit box): “He was just listening, nothing crazy. It’s not like he’s coaching me from in there. He was giving his opinion and talking with the engineers, just trying to lend a hand in any way he can.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I don’t really know if today told us too much about what the race will bring in the PNC Bank car. It’s really warm today and we think it could be even warmer on race day. The track temp was way up there today as well. I’m not really sure what you can learn from the times today. There were a lot of people throwing tires at it out there. Overall, the car felt good and we were comfortable. You just never know exactly what you’re going to have until you get into the race.”

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I think we had a very positive end to practice here at Indianapolis. The NTT DATA car felt really good and I was very happy with the direction and changes we made. I was also pretty happy with how the car handled in traffic, which is important for the race.”

DANICA PATRICK (No. 13 GoDaddy Chevrolet): “Today we had a little bit of an electrical issue, but our team was able to get me back out there before practice was over. At the end of the day, these are things you’re actually glad for, because if this had happened Sunday, we would have been done. I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on. Overall, today felt good. We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals Honda): “At the end of the session, the United Rentals Honda was pretty good. We definitely, at the very tail end of the session, got it into a decent window. We just ran used tires from the start and I know a lot of guys were running stickers (new tires), but we wanted to save a lot of stickers for the race and I think we just ran them too long, initially, and probably made our lives a little tough, but for sure we got the car much better in the end. We’ll be OK (in traffic). We don’t have the quickest outright pace, which has kind of been the case all month, but at the end of the session in heavy traffic I felt pretty good. Obviously, tire life and stuff plays a role, so we’ll have to see how we are on Sunday.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda): “The month has been great. It speaks volumes about the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Team. They really gave me a great car, a fast car, which showed what it was capable of on Saturday and Sunday in qualifying. We have worked very hard in traffic scenarios and race conditions and we definitely made some improvements on Monday, so I’m looking forward to a great race.”


ZACHARY CLAMAN DE MELO (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): “It was a tough session today. The Paysafe car wasn’t exactly how we wanted and it didn’t feel like Monday. But, I’m still feeling confident going into the race. I’m sure we’ll figure out the problem and that we’ll be really strong going into Sunday. You can’t count anyone out here, so it should be interesting on race day. The build up to this race is huge, it feels like we’ve been here a long time but it’s been fun. I can’t wait for race day.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 pole winner): “We ran through a couple of things we wanted to try after looking at the data from Monday’s practice. Carb Days are hard, though. It’s only one hour, then you have a couple more days to agonize over exactly how we start the race. The conditions are pretty similar right now to what we’ll have come race time, so the session was good for that. I wouldn’t say today was our best day by any means, but for me, we can rely on the work we have done over the previous week and a half. I’ve felt calm all week and I feel good going into the race. We’ll look through the data from today and the rest of practice, see what we like the best and go from there.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet): “Today was a good day. We made some solid progress throughout the session since we came in knowing what we needed from the car based on Monday. We needed to accomplish some of that, so I’m feeling happy with our Preferred Freezer Services Chevy, and I’m excited about the race.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Fiasp Chevrolet): “It was a ready good final practice. The hour on Carb Day is all about checking the boxes and making sure we are ready to go for Sunday. Reliability in the car has been rock solid all month. That didn’t change today. The speed is really good in the car. If we get clean air and get out front, we’re going to be pretty solid. The guys did a lot of pit stop practice this week and we’re pretty happy with that. Overall, we tuned on it, and right at the end of the session when the track was the hottest and probably the slickest, we felt like we had the best car of the week. That’s the right time to peak heading into the race on Sunday. Excited to show off what this Carlin team has done this whole month of May and this year so far. Everyone from Novo Nordisk to Chevy and Firestone are great partners. It’s been a great month. We’ve done an incredible job as a team and it’s been fun to watch this team enjoy the Indy 500 experience. I can’t wait to see their faces on race day.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda): “It was a relatively short session today for Carb Day. We went through a run plan and checked various things. In traffic, I was reasonably happy. We still need to work on it, but now race day is approaching and I think we are ready.”

KYLE KAISER (No. 32 NFP / Juncos Racing Chevrolet): “Our last day of practice went very well. We got to improve the car a little bit and get a better idea of the conditions for race day on Sunday. I think we ended with a pretty good car. I still think we have a few more changes to make before the race. I am really happy with the team. We brought the car back clean for the end of the day and I am ready to go racing now. I am looking forward to the start of the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): “It might not have shown on the overall speeds, but the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet had really good race pace. This final practice always goes by so fast trying to work through everything before race day, but we are really happy with where we ended the day. We’re feeling good heading into the race on Sunday.”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): “We got through Carb Day cleanly. There are some things we’d like to change and hopefully improve on. So, we’ll take a look at our data and make a decision on what’s the best way to move forward for the race and hopefully have a great race car.”

Rahal determined to regain winning touch in 2019 IndyCar season

Photo by Shawn Gritzmacher, INDYCAR
INDYCAR
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AUSTIN, Texas – Graham Rahal entered the room with a smile on his face and a chip on his shoulder.

It was IndyCar “Media Day” and Rahal wasn’t happy with the way last season went at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He was less happy with the fact some aren’t considering him a serious threat in 2019. He playfully chided with one media outlet for failing to mention his team as one to watch in 2019.

“We use that as motivation to show everybody how we are viewed,” Rahal said. “We are here to win.”

Rahal just turned 30 in January but is entering his 13thseason in big-time Indy car racing. He entered the 2007 Champ Car Series season when he was just 17. He missed his high school prom because he was racing at Houston.

“That was the luckiest day of my life,” Rahal said. “I didn’t have to go to the prom. It doesn’t get any better than that.

“Plus, I got my second career podium that weekend.”

Rahal drove to victory in his very first race in the combined IndyCar Series in the 2008 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He was hailed as the “Poster Boy of Unification” and a future star. What followed was a seven-year drought before he captured his second-career win in a thrilling race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

He won two races in 2015, one in 2016 and two in 2017. He was expected to contend for victories and possibly the championship last year but struggled through a disappointing season and finished eighth in the standings.

“I’m looking forward for chance this year,” Rahal said. “Last year was a tough one for me and for the team. I’m looking forward to what my new engineer, Allen McDonald, has done so far. He is an accomplished engineer and brings a different mindset to our program this year from what we had last year. He and (fellow engineer) Eddie Jones are very close friends and that will help us from the standpoint they are on the same page.

“We needed a bit of life brought back to the team.”

Rahal believes his challenges are to get everything in order before the season starts. The team has defined the areas where it was lacking in 2019. The team needed to improve in research and development after starting behind last season.

“I’m excited for what I see, and I know in the end it will all pay off,” Rahal said. “It’s just a matter of when.

“There is a lot to be excited about for us. We are in a great position as a team. We have great sponsorship and that will allow us to push forward and do the things we need to do.”

Rahal believes at 30, he has a long time ahead of him to win races and championships and maybe even the Indianapolis 500. In order to reach those goals, however, Rahal’s team needs to regain the competitive level he displayed prior to last year.

“We’ve been fortunate to win six times,” Rahal said. “A lot of people come into this sport and never win. I fully recognize there is no reason we can’t win a lot. I don’t care what anybody writes, what anybody thinks – I really feel that when it comes to race day, we perform better than 99 percent of the other people out there.

“As a team and for myself, we have to qualify better. If we can qualify better, we’ll be a thorn in everybody’s side. We know the rear of our cars just aren’t good enough. When we need to find that extra tenth or two, it’s just not there but absolutely, we want to win.

“I don’t come here year after year to just drive around. Our sponsors don’t invest in us year after year to not see us win. We feel that. But our cars aren’t good enough and we know that.”

Rahal believes the team has identified the problems with the setup of its car. It has a deep engineering staff but hasn’t had a chance to develop the damper program and other important areas that provide a competition setup.

Takuma Sato, the winner of the 101stIndianapolis 500 when he was with Andretti Autosport, scored the team’s only victory in 2018 with a win in the Portland Grand Prix. The two are back this year and have built a respect for each other.

“He’s a good guy,” Rahal said of Sato. “Other than Helio Castroneves, Takuma is probably the happiest man on the planet. He’s a great guy and fits in well with our organization. We pride ourselves on being a family and he fits in extremely well to that.

“We need to do a better job for him as a team. He won a race last year, but we can both do better to win with both cars.

“The Andretti cars are the best right now and the Penske cars will be good. We have a lot of space to close up on those two teams but hopefully, we can do it.”