Dreyer & Reinbold Racing welcomed rookie Mike Conway back to the Indianapolis garage area on Thursday, but still had to wait before being able to put the Britain back into the cockpit in preparation for third qualifying and, if necessary, Bump Day this weekend.
Conway, who has yet to make the field for his first Indianapolis 500, has sufficiently recovered from a mild concussion suffered last Sunday to be released from hospital, but has been made to wait until Friday morning to be examined by IRL medical director Dr Michael Olinger in order to get the clearance he needs to return to the track this weekend.
Temporary DRR team-mate Davey Hamilton, who holds the 22nd and final spot on the week one grid for the 500, completed several shakedown runs in Conway's #24 Purex-backed machine in preparation for the 25-year old's expected return on Friday.
“It was good to be back at the circuit to see the guys and catch up, and it was also good to have Davey get a run in my car and make sure it's good to go for tomorrow if we are allowed out," Conway commented, "I feel fine and back to normal now but, for the last couple of days, I felt a bit sore and achy. That's to be expected [after crashing] at that speed and impact, but I'm raring to go now, so let me at it.
"I want to thank the safety crew and the IndyCar Series medical staff for recovering me from the car and for taking good care of me, but I'm anxious to get started. I have to get the all-clear and then I'll be ready to go.”
Hamilton, meanwhile, took his regular mount out on track to work on race set-up, completing 45 laps as practice resumed on Thursday - before travelling to O'Reilly Raceway Park for evening testing with his USAC midget car. The veteran is the only one of DRR's four-strong 500 line-up to have made the field ahead of week two, but is confident that his team-mates will make the cut this weekend.
"It was a tough weekend for the team," he admitted, "I think we felt we had the cars to [all] make the top 22 last weekend, but it wasn't to be. I will help John [Andretti], Mike and Milka [Duno] to make the 33-driver field this weekend, plus I will be making race set-up runs that will help us for race day. This is the biggest race in the world and things are never easy here.
"Mike will be in good shape though. We only ran seven or eight laps on his car to shake it down, and it's very conservative for him right now. We just wanted to make sure the back is locked down so that he can gain his confidence back, but the car felt good and solid. As soon as he gets in, I guarantee he will be in the 219-222mph range right off of the bat - and he will be fine for qualifying."
Andretti, like Conway, suffered a heavy crash in Sunday practice, but was back on track in the #43 entry, while Duno, who opted not to return to the track after being bumped during second qualifying, also got some more mils under her belt ahead of the weekend.
”We need to go out and set a good platform with the car," Andretti admitted, "We wanted to get me confident, so we tried a totally different set-up with the chassis. I think the car is definitely better now, so we can work our way to the proper speed. We are not as rushed as last week, when we tried to make the top 22, and I think we have a good car now."