INDIANAPOLIS May 18— "Fast Friday" at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the day when IndyCar teams and drivers focus solely on qualifying setups so the cars are trimmed aerodynamically to slip through the air clean and fast. However, with minimal downforce, the cars are also more sensitive to changes in the track conditions such as wind. One driver felt the brunt of those conditions today.
James Davison escaped serious injury when his car spun and made contact with the Turn 2 SAFER barrier this afternoon. The car was heavily damaged while Davison emerged from the car limping. He sustained a bruised left knee, was treated at the infield medical center and released. He has been cleared to drive tomorrow.
The Foyt/Byrd/Hollinger/Belardi team is working late tonight to repair (or replace) the car’s left side suspension, front and rear wings, gearbox and undertray. The team may be getting extra time courtesy of Mother Nature because the prediction is for rain throughout the day tomorrow.
Davison dismissed mechanical failures as the cause, saying, "No, I don't think so.”
Speaking to reporters outside the care center, he explained, “The wind is blowing head-on at the exit of Turn 2. I think that at the wrong time we got too much front grip which resulted in losing it at the end there. I banged my knee up a bit, and was limping a bit when I got into the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team truck. I was really hurting for five or ten minutes, but it has calmed down now. I am cleared to drive. From here, we have to assess the damage and hope that it isn't too significant which could cost us speed tomorrow. I believe that we are quick enough to make it into the field with the car that we had prior to the crash. Hopefully, we have something similar to qualify with tomorrow."
When asked if he felt anything [strange] before the spin, he replied, "Absolutely nothing, then I was backwards. It was definitely new experience for me, especially here at Indy and while driving on ovals in general. I guess I've become one of the drivers who has smacked the wall at Indianapolis. So, I've joined the club today. Obviously, not ideal, but we had to try some things today. We're 32nd quickest, right on the bubble. We're not going to go faster standing there looking at it. No regrets there. I've been having a fantastic time with this AJ Foyt-Byrd-Belardi-Hollinger Racing team. We'll regroup and see what we can pull out tomorrow and give it everything we've got.”
Foyt’s ABC Supply Chevrolets ran Fast Friday without incident. Both Tony Kanaan and Matheus “Matt” Leist emerged satisfied with their cars.
Kanaan said, "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."
Kanaan’s “no tow speed” of 227.996 mph ranked ninth on the speed chart while his teammate’s speed of 227.687 mph was 14th of the 35 cars on track today. In overall speed, Kanaan was seventh with his 229.740 mph clocking and Leist was eighth with a 229.500 mph lap speed. INDYCAR allows the engineers to increase the engine turbocharger boost which means the engines received a kicker of about 50 more horsepower today which will be used in qualifying. For the race, the engine manufacturers de-tune the engines for the race to increase reliability.
Leist continues to maintain a positive attitude as he checks off experiences in this season of firsts for the 19-year-old rookie.
"Fast Friday is done,” Leist said. “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 far. I'm excited to set fast laps and hopefully advance to the Fast 9 on Sunday."
If the rain holds off tomorrow, teams will have an hour of practice (in split sessions) starting at 8 a.m. ET which will be streamed on WatchESPN. Qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 is set to begin at 11 a.m. ET and will also be streamed on WatchESPN. The final two hours –from 4 to 6p.m. ET—will be broadcast live on ABC-TV, weather permitting.