What IndyCar drivers said after the second day of Indy 500 practice

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INDIANAPOLIS — A roundup of quotes from NTT IndyCar Series drivers Thursday after their second six and a half hour practice session for the 104th Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Scott Dixon turned the fastest lap in the session at 226.102 mph, topping Takuma Sato. Marco Andretti was third, followed by Conor Daly and rookie Alex Palou.

The lone incident involved Fernando Alonso making contact with the outside wall exiting Turn 4. Alonso was OK and optimistic that his car could be repaired without a backup.

Drivers and teams will turn their focus to qualifying on “Fast Friday” as the cars receive a turbocharger boost of roughly 50 horsepower that should have speeds climbing into the 230 mph range.

Fernando Alonso (No. 66 Ruoff Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “We just lost the grip of the car and at this place, the walls are very close. Just the way it is. Unfortunately it happened again today. Hopefully it just happens today and not on Sunday, Aug. 23. You learn every lap you do around this track, and we will learn from this one. Hopefully tomorrow we can start again. It has been going OK, more or less, so far this week, so hopefully we can keep it up the good work and have no more issues. I didn’t check, but it shouldn’t be too bad. I will rely on the Arrow McLaren SP team, and we will be fine.”

Marco Andretti (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda): “We tried some things outside the box that didn’t really work. The good thing for me at Indy in the past has been when you go back to what you think is good, and it still works. So, we went back to what we had, and the car feels good like it did yesterday. I think it’s going to be tough for everybody to pass; we just have to be on the better end of things.”

Oliver Askew (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “We are still building up to it. We ended up top 10 on the timing board, but that doesn’t really mean anything to us. Those are just tow laps that people get. The most important thing is that the car feels good in traffic. I think we have a good baseline now. I’m looking forward to qualifying trim tomorrow, the extra boost. We are completely in qualifying mode now. We can look back on the experience today when we put the race setup back on Sunday afternoon. Ultimately on Friday, I think it is a really important day to put finishing touches on the car. I’m very confident that Arrow McLaren SP and everyone on the engineering staff is going to look at all the data and make sure we have the best possible package on Race Day.”

Ed Carpenter (No. 20 United States Space Force Chevrolet): “All in all, it was a much better day than yesterday. It was one of those days where you almost need to ignore the speed charts when everyone is getting a big tow to put up a number. We made a lot of progress on race running with how I feel in traffic and doing long runs. That was productive. Still not totally sure what speed we have in the U.S. Space Force Chevrolet, but we’ll sort that out tomorrow. There’s room for improvement, but overall I’m pleased with the progress from yesterday to today. We’re heading in the right direction.”

Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was another great day of developing the No. 3 Pennzoil Chevy. We worked again on the race setup and running a bit more in traffic. We feel great. We feel really strong. We know tomorrow there’s going to be a lot more horsepower, and so we will turn our focus to that so when we get to Saturday we are ready.”

Max Chilton (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “We started out our second day of testing for the Indianapolis 500 fairly strong. We were one of the first cars out on track when practice opened this morning and we had some really solid no-tow times, but we had a bit of an engine issue after about an hour of running that greatly reduced our time on track. We went back to the garage and had to change the engine, but the guys did a great job getting the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet back out this afternoon. Even with the issues today, the car felt really good when we went back out at the end of the day, and I’m actually feeling pretty good about where we are heading into Fast Friday.”

Conor Daly (No. 47 United States Air Force Chevrolet): “Today was another step forward for us. Cole (Pearn, engineer) and I are figuring out what I need and what he wants to do. We’re definitely close to where we want to be, but that becomes a difficult area to work in. Cole doesn’t have the experience yet, and I really don’t have the experience to know exactly what we need. We’re trying to mess around with some things and figure out what we can do next to make it even better. I like where the U.S. Air Force Chevy is at. It’s fast. We don’t want to out-engineer ourselves. We’re going to keep our heads on straight and keep on trucking.”

James Davison (No. 51 Jacob Construction/Tilson HR Honda): “It was an encouraging day for the No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing, Byrd & Belardi machine. We ran competitively in traffic. We weren’t anything special but certainly weren’t below average. Good to know that we can ride competitively with some of the big teams. With that said, there’s a couple of guys out there that are in race-winning positions, and that’s something that we are working toward. We will just stick with it and work on our qualifying car tomorrow, in order to secure a good starting spot and track position for the race which is going to be very important.”

Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “Today, we made some minor changes and tried to figure out some different balances. We’re also focusing on how the car feels. The No. 8 car had some changes yesterday that (Marcus Ericsson) liked and we tried them, but I’m on the fence. We’re just running through those variations and trying to run in as much traffic as possible and get the car as comfortable as possible for the race. It’s good to have three cars to learn from, but it’s also about trying to learn what each driver feels differently. Everyone can be picky in certain areas or have attention to detail on something the other driver doesn’t really care about. What Marcus feels might not equate to something that I like. All of the information is fantastic, and that is what we’re trying to feed off and get a pattern going of what somebody likes and we know the conversion. We’re really just working hard on race setup. We’ve had a lot of options to work through and we also wanted to run some of the things the other two cars have tried. We also worked on finding traffic today to see how the car would respond.”

Marcus Ericsson (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I think it was another good day with a lot of laps done. We went through different setups again and tried some different downforce levels. We’ve mainly been gathering information and focusing on the car. Tomorrow we will be more focused on fast running and qualifying. Today was not the best day, but we had a lot of laps done. I have a good feeling in the car. It feels good in traffic, and that’s what you want. So, let’s see tomorrow how we are on our own.”

Santino Ferrucci (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “It’s been an interesting two days for the SealMaster Honda team. We did a lot of race running. We haven’t even done a qualifying simulation mainly because we’ve been trying to fine-tune our race car. Trying to understand the changing temperatures, track conditions and the Aeroscreen. I think we have found something for when it’s hot and something for when it’s cool, so I think we should be good come Race Day. The conditions will dictate what setup we run. Tomorrow, Fast Friday, we will focus on the qualifying car for Saturday and see what we can do.”

Jack Harvey (No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda): “Today we were trying to get our race car in a bit of a better place, and we made improvements from where we were yesterday. I felt more comfortable with our times today, and our no-tow times were pretty quick. It’s a nice feeling to come here and be trending in a positive direction.”

Colton Herta (No. 88 Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Honda): “Today was pretty good. I think we seemed pretty good on no-tow speed and then in the tow, we seemed good, too. Seems like we are in the right path to get into qualifying this weekend. It will be exciting for tomorrow and see how much faster we go as we get ready for qualifying. The Gleaners car was really good today. We got through our testing plan nice and easy and seem to be on good pace.”

James Hinchcliffe (No. 29 Genesys Honda): “A solid day for the No. 29 Genesys Honda. We had a lot of things we wanted to get through on the check list and got through most of them. Spent a lot of time in the morning doing some loose prep for qualifying runs tomorrow and then, like everyone else, kind of went to the group running and race trim. We’ve got the car in a decent spot, and there’s not a lot to do to it — just fine tuning it and get it comfortable in traffic. All in all, a pretty trouble-free day.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda): “The 28 DHL team got a lot of work done today, especially in race running. Pretty happy with the car. It is a good starting point for once we are done with qualifying. I think everyone out there is having to work hard to make a pass on track. We’ll see tomorrow for the qualifying side of it. You really don’t know until the boost is added, so I am looking forward to going fast tomorrow.”

JR Hildebrand (No. 67 DRR Salesforce Chevrolet): “There was a lot of stuff for us to get through in just one day. We might check back in on a couple of things in the morning before moving toward our qualifying setups. Additional added turbo boost will throw some wrinkles in the items for Friday. I think if the conditions are good, cooler, I think the speeds will be really high. The weather looks a little dodgy for Friday. All in all, I feel really good about the way the guys have the car going. It’s not easy with our little two-car draft compared to Andretti with six or seven cars together. But we knew we needed to be smart today with the proper things we worked on. We know we have a little bit more to work on, and there were not many cars that could drive around people today. That might be the expectation for the race, too. The strategies might be go fast early on a stint and then hold on, or take a consistent run through a whole stint. I’m not sure how you handle it right now. With the August heat conditions, the new Aeroscreen and the new Firestone compounds, there are a lot of variables right now. But we’ll learn more throughout the weekend. I feel pretty good right now with the race settings.”

Tony Kanaan (No. 14 ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “It was a good day. I mean, we were trying to find the perfect balance for the perfect race car, which – finding perfection – it’s tough sometimes, so we made big changes. Changes that take an hour, an hour and a half to go back and forth, and if they go right, it’s good. But if they go wrong, you don’t have time to go back, and it’s one of those days. But I was pretty pleased with our basic setup. We’re just trying to reach the next level, so that’s in the books now. We’re going concentrate for qualifying tomorrow and Saturday. Then we’ll go back and revisit on Sunday. So, now it’s turning on to qualifying mode and see what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

Sage Karam (No. 24 DRR WIX Filters Chevrolet): “We tried some changes overnight, and some things worked but others didn’t. We had a good car Wednesday when we finished up. And we went back to those settings in the middle of the day and then made more changes in the right direction. The WIX Filters Chevy felt good at the end today. We didn’t get to do everything we wanted to today, but the car felt strong on that last run. We weren’t concerned about lap times today. We didn’t get in big drafts, just got comfortable in the race car. On Friday, we’ll crank in more boost and power for qualifying. It will be interesting on Friday with the extra horsepower. Fast Friday is a day that a lot of the drivers aren’t too sure about with their cars. Since we started today with certain settings, we didn’t get to complete all of the changes we wanted. We’ll probably work on those changes on Friday morning and then move on to qualifying setups. Overall, I’m happy with the direction of the race car.”

Dalton Kellett (No. 41 K-Line USA / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “We had a great day working on our race setup. We’ve just been chipping away slowly at how we want the balance and downforce level to be for race running. At the end, we did a couple long runs and keeping with the pack. The car feels pretty racy, feels pretty quick. I think across the three teams everyone’s pretty happy, so all in all, I’m pleased with how the day went. We didn’t do any qualifying runs. We’re saving that for tomorrow, so we’ll have to see how it goes when we crank up the boost and trim things out tomorrow. It’s going to be exciting. Looking forward to my first Fast Friday.”

Charlie Kimball (No. 4 Tresiba AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Solid day of work here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I think we still have some things to work on on the race car, as well as getting ready for qualifying. Tomorrow we get more horsepower, more boost and get ready for Fast Friday and qualifying, but the first two days have gone really well. Really pleased with the Tresiba Chevy crew for AJ Foyt Racing. These guys have done a great job preparing the car and continuing to keep it up to spec, so I feel really positive going into the weekend, as well as next weekend.”

Josef Newgarden (No. 1 Shell V-Power Nitro Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was another good day. No drama, which is good. This place is all about keeping up with the schedule. It is very easy to get lost running so many miles, so many sets of tires. The Shell car is pretty fast. Team Chevy has done a great job for us so far. I am excited to turn up the boost tomorrow to see how fast we can go. That’s where we have to shift our focus. These first two days were about the race. Tomorrow is about qualifying. We will see how we are there.”

Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “I think today we made some really good strides. We’ve been really working on the race car, and we have made some very good, positive improvements. I think it was a good day knowledge-wise for me and setup development for Race Day. Tomorrow is Fast Friday, so time to turn up the engines and see how fast Arrow McLaren SP and Team Chevy can go.”

Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a great day. We went through a roller coaster of emotions when we couldn’t get the balance the way we wanted. We reset ourselves to where we were happy and then made a slight adjustment with it, and I am extremely happy now. We had a great run in traffic in the Menards Chevy – a good run, and it feels like it should feel. So, I am very excited for Race Day. I know other people will catch up, but we are ahead of the program right now. That is a big positive. I am super happy to represent the team well with the equipment I have. That is where I wanted to be today.”

Alex Palou (No. 55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda): “Yeah, it went really well, really smooth. Also yesterday, my first day here in Indianapolis. Was amazing. Felt really good with the car. Felt so-so in traffic. Still had to gain a lot of confidence. Today in the morning, we struggled a little bit. I think we went into a direction with the setup that I didn’t really like as much as yesterday. Then in the afternoon we just came back, recovered speed, worked a lot on traffic. I think the pace with traffic, it’s good. But I think especially the pace during long stints, it’s really, really strong. So, yeah, I’m looking forward to tomorrow with a bit more power, then to qualifying, and after that we’ll switch our mind to the race, which is going to be really interesting.”

Spencer Pigot (No. 45 Hy-Vee Embrace Pittsburgh Honda): “The day was OK. Again, it seemed to be a little better. Before we stopped for lunch, I think we had a few things that we didn’t quite get a handle on today, but we definitely made some good changes throughout the day to the Hy-Vee / Embrace Pittsburgh car, so we will try to build on those for the next time we do race running. But now we will focus on getting speed out of it and go as fast as we can tomorrow and get ready for qualifying. It’s always exciting when the boost gets turned up. It’s definitely a little different going a lot faster with less downforce. We’re just trying to get the opposite of today where we were looking for traffic, running with cars to improve our race setup, and now we’re looking to be all by ourselves. It’s a totally different mindset, but Fast Friday is always a fun day.”

Will Power (No. 12 Verizon 5G Edge Team Penske Chevrolet): “We went through a few different philosophies and changes. I think we’re in a good spot. I look forward to getting out there tomorrow and seeing how we are speed-wise for qualifying to see where we stack up. We’re going to run qualifying runs tomorrow for the Verizon Chevy and will just keep working at it to find more speed.”

Graham Rahal (No. 15 United Rentals Honda): “We had a really good day for the No. 15 United Rentals team. We tried a lot, so we stopped a little bit early because we’ve got a lot of data to go through. We did a couple of long runs, and the last one, in particular, felt really good. We seemed to be competitive. It’s tough out there. It’s tough to follow, but we were able to pass some cars, which I’m pleased about. We’ve got a couple of little issues to work on, mainly left rear tire vibration, which we think is self-induced, so we will focus on that and try to get it better for tomorrow. Obviously, tomorrow we turn up the boost a ton, and we’re going to do a lot of qualifying sims, so you won’t see as much race running. So, it will be interesting to see how the next couple of days go. But feel like our car has some good pace. I feel like it was good in the race run, so here we go. Let’s see how the weekend turns out.”

Felix Rosenqvist (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “There hasn’t been a lot of overtaking going on today, but there’s definitely a few cars out there that are a bit stronger than the others. We’re not where I want to be yet with the balance, and we’ve been going in circles a little bit. It always feels bad when you’re running in traffic, but we will really have to push it these next few days and put ourselves in the worst type of scenario to get really good in the race. It’s still hard to know where everyone is because there’s not a lot of overtaking. We’re sticking to our program and working hard, and we ended the session on a good note after some changes.”

Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / Auto Nation Honda): “We struggled for most of the day in traffic, which is a little concerning, but I think we made a pretty good step in the end. That’s all on the back burner until Sunday. I think our qualifying pace is good. It’s going to be a track position race, for sure. It’s going to be really hard to pass and really hard to get runs, so I think qualifying is going to be extra important this year. I feel pretty good about that, but it is going to be tough with the added boost, so we have to go out and execute tomorrow to be prepared on Saturday.”

Takuma Sato (No. 30 Panasonic/PeopleReady Honda): “I’m pretty happy. I think it was quite a productive day. Obviously the scoreboard was nice, being in the first place and second place felt good. It means nothing, but I think that’s a reflection of the cars getting quite a good adhesion. You get in a big tow, you able to follow people with the new tire. Obviously, that pure speed is far off from non-tow situation, but I’m pretty happy with that speed. In the traffic run, which is very difficult this year, with the Aeroscreen the air efficiency goes down, and it is very difficult to overtake. I think we were landing on a good pace. Overall, I think it was a very good day.”

Zach Veach (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “It was a pretty good day for us, ending 15th on the overall speeds, which is always tainted a bit with how big of draft you get. Feeling really good on our no-tow speed. I think we were P4 on the no-tow (chart), which is the true testament of speed of the car and what we are most concerned with when we get to qualifying on Saturday. All in all, I think our qualifying car has taken shape pretty well. Got a little more to do on our race car but think everyone is kind of in that same situation.”

Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “We had a really good second day of practice. We got in a lot of real traffic running before Fast Friday. I’m looking forward to that! Extra power. The SONAX Chevy felt really good. Yesterday, I was fast on my own but struggled a little bit in traffic. Today, we ended the day on a high. It felt amazing. I could really pass people and move my way through the pack. The ECR team made incredible progress. We’re strong, we’ll see how tomorrow goes.”

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”