SPEEDWAY – Over 24 hours, they were spending a lot more time in the garage than they were the track.
That’s what May can be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when Mother Nature has her way–as she did for the better part of Tuesday and Wednesday.
With the precipitation coming down for a good 24 hours, Ed Carpenter and his race team were forced to stay inside and do whatever work they could in preparation for the Indianapolis 500 qualifications and race over the next two weeks.
“The only upside is that the schedule has been flat out with the Grand Prix and getting out to here so I think the mechanics actually like having a rain day,” said Carpenter of the delay to get on the track. “It allows them to catch up and work on things that they’ve been having to wait on before that.
“As drivers, it stinks. We’re standing around doing nothing, watching it rain.”
They wouldn’t be all day, though, thanks to a bit of a break along with a unique time change by the speedway itself. With showers prevalent in the early afternoon, practice was extended one hour to 7 p.m. to allow for a little extra practice time when the cars finally got on the track at around 5 p.m.
But as usual, weather and circumstances prevailed. The first crash of the month–ironically at 6:01 p.m.–along with more rain kept the extended session to just an hour-and-a-half. The checkered flag waved around 6:30 p.m., ending a second day of short practice for a number of the drivers.
Still, several drivers were able to post some solid speeds and the fastest lap of the month was run by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Simon Pagenaud, who became the first driver to crack 226 miles per hour this month. Yet even he thought the day was a washout all the way up till late afternoon.
“I almost went home to run some errands,” said Pagenaud. “I was really happy about it. It’s never fun to sit out during a day. Especially when you can run at IMS. So we went out. The conditions were really good for top speeds.”
Pagenaud was the fastest at 226.122 with Ed Carpenter Racing’s J.R. Hildebrand coming in second with a top lap of 225.854. Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves also cracked the Top Five for the day with speeds in excess of 222 miles an hour.
“I don’t care about putting up a big lap time, I care about how the car feels,” said Hildebrand after his run. “It’s great to see that the car has the speed in it because at the end of the day you rarely go through practice with guys that are capable of setting those fast times, they end up being the guys that have the quicker cars.”
Just as long as Mother Nature lets them on the track.