INDIANAPOLIS – Carb Day is the final chance for race teams to fine-tune their cars for the Indianapolis 500. After the one hour practice was checkered, it was Tony Kanaan atop the scoring pylon with a lap speed of 227.791 mph in the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet.
“It was a good day for us,” Kanaan said. “We worked a little bit on setup and I’m happy, so we’ll see. The weather is going to be a big factor on Sunday, so that’s something we can’t predict.”
Today was the first day that the drivers ran in such hot weather where the thermometer tipped 90 degrees. The word is that on race day it will be more of the same.
“It's concerning, but there's not a lot to think about because nobody, none of us have run in that type of heat,” Kanaan said. “If it's going to be 90, we haven't had a single day here this month that we ran [in that heat]. I think if you talk to every driver, everybody is concerned because we're going to have to be doing a lot more work with our tools in the car.”
Kanaan recalled the circumstances in 2013 when he won this race in his 12th attempt.
“I remember in 2013 when I won, I hadn't made a single change in that car in a single
pit stop, not front wing, not tire pressures, nothing,” Kanaan shared. “I think [in this race] we'll be doing -- every stop we'll be making a change here. And in the middle of the race you're going to think ‘I'm awesome’, and then it's going to get three degrees hotter, and you're going to go, ‘Where did that car go?’ Even this morning was the same thing; we went through that exercise, and the car was okay in the beginning, it was okay in the middle, and at the end, the temperature started to get hotter and it was a completely different car, and we hadn't done anything.”
While the circumstances of the race will make the cars more difficult to drive because in the hot weather there is less available downforce and these cars have less downforce than the cars that drivers are used to having the last three or four years, the 43-year-old veteran sees opportunity.
“I think it's a good thing,” the Brazilian said. “Everybody is really worried. You can see the guys, everybody is on the edge. But honestly, that's going to be probably more of a pure talent of the guys -- how smart you're going to be with your tools, saving this, saving that, and every engineer making a good car for every driver and we're battling it out. It's uncomfortable, but I like to be in that place.”
James Davison was satisfied with his Jonathan Byrd’s 502 East Chevrolet, saying “it
was the best car he had all month.” Davison posted the 13th fastest time with a speed of 223.241mph.
“It was a great day for the No. 33 Foyt/Byrd/Hollinger/Belardi team,” Davison said. “We were able to find a balance I was comfortable with in traffic, and in the heat. Race day is going to be very hot and slick, so knowing that the crew gave me a balance I can pass with and be fast with is a beautiful thing. I’m excited to see what we are capable of come Sunday!”
Matheus “Matt” Leist was not quite as happy with his car but the team is making changes. Leist’s best speed was 221.799mph which was 28th on the speed chart.
“I’m happy today’s over with, it’s always a stressful day because with the final practice, it seems like a lot more can go wrong than can go right,” said AJ Foyt Racing Team President Larry Foyt. “I was very happy with Tony’s speed, he showed that the ABC Chevrolets have the pace to be up front. I know Matheus wasn’t as happy with his car but we’ve got some great data from Tony’s running to look at and get Matheus dialed in for race day.”
Drivers will be busy tomorrow with the track’s autograph session, a public driver meeting and a parade through downtown Indianapolis as the crews get a day off to rest before the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500. The ABC-TV broadcast of the event begins at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, May 27th.