Rookie Munoz Paces Thursday Practice
INDIANAPOLIS – As most teams have been working on Race Day setup for the 97th Indianapolis 500 since the track opened for practice last Saturday it was finally time for teams to attempt to see how fast their cars would go in qualifying trim.
With an additional about of boost being given to each team for “Fast Friday” and this weekend’s qualifications, the extra 40-50 horsepower should see speeds climb and that is when the real work for qualifications will begin.
As with the 2012 race, the boost level will be upped from 130 kPa to 140 kPa for “Fast Friday” and Pole Day qualifications May 18 and Bump Day qualifications on May 19.
“What we had last year worked really well for the full sequence of the Month of May,” said Will Phillips, IndyCar vice president for technology. “With the car performance progressing incrementally through natural development of the chassis and aerodynamics, lap speeds are expected to increase in qualifying.”
The change in pressure adds about a 40 horsepower boost to the engines produced by Chevrolet (twin-turbocharged Chevy IndyCar V6) and Honda (single turbo-charged Honda HI13R). The boost level for Race Day will return to 130 kPa for final practice on Carb Day on May 24 and the 500-mile race on May 26.
Many teams started off Thursday’s session still working on race setups including the fastest driver of the day, Andretti Autosport rookie Carlos Munoz of Colombia. He ran 70 laps with a fast lap of 225.163 miles per hour in a Dallara/Chevrolet. His fast lap was the 60th lap of the day and was the fastest lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway so far this week.
“The fastest lap was a tow, an unbelievable tow,” Munoz said. “Yesterday, I was thanking Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) and all the other drivers for the tow, and today I am thanking him (E.J. Viso) and Ryan (Hunter-Reay). But yeah, this last run I felt really comfortable each time I ran behind people in racing conditions. Each time I felt more comfortable. We are improving the car from the beginning until now, and I think right now we are really strong. We have a real strong car every time we test, and we can go back and make sure we have a pretty competitive car. But tomorrow and Saturday is another thing entirely. We will have to prepare for qualifying.”
An Andretti Autosport driver has been the fastest of the day in five of the six days of practice so far at Indy. Munoz is the first driver to be the fastest on more than one day. He was also the quickest on Sunday.
“I’m excited to get that extra horsepower on Friday,” Munoz said. “We’ll get more speed again. I’m comfortable and feel we have a secure car. I will tell you tomorrow after I have that first run.”