INDIANAPOLIS-Cooler temperatures provided better track conditions for the 33 NTT IndyCar Series drivers who took to the 2.5-mile oval for the penultimate practice before the Indianapolis 500. Despite those improved conditions and topping the charts in the first 15 minutes of today’s two-hour session, the A.J. Foyt Racing drivers had tempered expectations knowing that Carb Day and Race Day are projected to be much hotter.
“We just tried to figure out what we need for the race,” said Tony Kanaan, pilot of the No. 14 ABC Supply Racing Chevrolet. “Obviously it was a really cool day today. We tried to learn a couple things but we’ll see what’s going to happen. It’s going to be a lot hotter on Carb Day and Race Day, so I think Carb Day is going to be more representative, but pretty good day so far. We learned a lot so I’m happy.”
Although his speed of 227.295mph saw Kanaan first on the pylon early on, he had begun to complain of understeer shortly thereafter and the No. 14 team wanted to try a change that would not be possible in the time that they had. So, they decided to enlist the help of the No. 4 ABC Supply Racing Chevrolet of Matheus Leist, which had a closer setup to the one they wanted to test.
“For us, it was productive,” said Kanaan. “I had to drive both cars because we wanted to make a change that was going to be too big to do it between one car only, so I jumped in his car to get a feel for it. We’ll try to make a decision. We have a week – five days to decide until we get to Carb Day. A pretty cool day. I wish it was like that in the race, but it’s not going to happen so everything is going to change again."
Leist, who ran second only to Kanaan early in the session at 226.077mph, was pleased with the initial setup on his race car in the beginning of his run.
“Decent practice here at the track,” said Leist. “I think since the beginning of the practice I was feeling very comfortable with the car – I think the most I’ve felt since we came here so far this year. The car was very decent and the balance was where we wanted it to be.”
The No. 4 team opted to make some adjustments in search of more speed. Those changes didn’t quite pan out as they’d hoped; however, Leist was still confident that the team is headed in the right direction for the final practice on Friday.
“Maybe the conditions changed a little bit, maybe we didn’t do the right changes and I just felt like we missed a little bit setup-wise,” explained Leist. “The good thing is that we had a good car in the beginning of the practice so we can always go back to that and then move forward. I’m looking forward to Carb Day now. I think we still need to improve a little bit to be in the mix, but I’m feeling confident and excited.”
When the practice session ended, Kanaan was 11th quickest at 227.295mph and Leist’s fastest lap saw him 16th with a top speed of 226.721mph.
Yesterday’s Pole winner Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske was atop the pylon again when the checkered flag dropped at 2pm. He posted a top speed of 228.441mph. Rounding out the top-five were Joseph Newgarden, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi.
Drivers will have a few days away from the Speedway before they return for a final 90-minute practice session on Miller Lite Carb Day, Friday May 24, starting at 11a.m. ET. It will be televised on NBCSN. Pre-race coverage airs live at 11a.m. ET Sunday, May, 26 on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.