INDYCAR: Eyes Turn to Race Day as Newgarden Leads Practice, Busch Crashes

RaceChaser Staff Featured, Midwest, Sprints & Midgets, Verizon IndyCar Series 0 Comments

INDIANAPOLIS – official release — Chris Owens photo — After two days of entertaining but hectic qualifications, the 33 starters for the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race turned their attention to Race Day car set-up during a five-hour session on the 2.5-mile oval.

“I feel good about where our cars are in race trim, (but) you can always use one more solid day of practice just to tune on things, get a little better, make sure both myself and (teammate) JR (Hildebrand) are happy,” said Verizon P1 Award winner Ed Carpenter, who logged 49 laps with a fastest of 224.492 mph in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka car.

All 33 starters turned a cumulative total of 2,329 laps. Josef Newgarden, who qualified eighth in the No. 67 Hartman Oil/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car, was fastest with a lap of 227.105 mph (39.6292 seconds).

“After this qualifying format we had this weekend, it was just so stressful and tiring, mentally fatiguing this weekend,” Newgarden said. “I think everyone felt that way. Everyone I talked to, including guys like Simon Pagenaud were just stressed to the max from these two days so that’s a good thing. You should have that at Indy. You should have that stress factor that you have to get through. So it was a little hard getting there today and having to go back out, but we really needed it. I mean, honestly we needed it on our team because we had so much rain last week that it was helpful to have a day where we’re able to work on the car before Friday on Carb Day because you’re quite limited.”

“(Carb Day) is more about preparing yourself for the race environment. Everyone’s going to be out there running like it’s the race and you kind of get yourself set up for that. So you’re not really working on the car, whereas today we were able to work on the car, refine what we needed to because of the weather we had last week and not getting everything done so for us it was very helpful. And I’m sure it was the same for everyone up and down the field.”

Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified 10th, was second (226.532 mph) in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske car. Drivers will have a 60-minute race tune-up May 23.

An incident involving Kurt Busch brought out a yellow flag 95 minutes into the session when the No. 26 Suretone car for Andretti Autosport made right-side contact with the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier. Busch was checked at the IU Health Infield Medical Center at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and cleared to drive.

“I was starting to feel comfortable,” said Busch, who had just completed a lap of 223.433 mph (his 56th). “That’s when I made the mistake of just letting my guard down or settling into that long run-type mentality whereas with an Indy car you have to be on edge. I was trying to find that rhythm and pace myself as I would on (Race Day, May 25) and I just got behind on the adjustments on the car.”

Busch, who qualified 12th, will be the fourth driver to attempt the feat of competing in the Indianapolis 500 and a NASCAR race in Concord, N.C., on the same day (and the first since Tony Stewart, who in 2001 completed all 1,100 miles).

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