Gustavo Yacaman established himself as a contender for the Firestone Freedom 100 by leading a one-day open test for Indy Lights runners at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Yacaman turned a lap of 47.2493secs in his #10 Cape Motorsport with Wayne Taylor Racing car around the famed 2.5-mile oval, benefiting from advice from Juan Pablo Montoya when he visited the 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner at a NASCAR tyre test at the Speedway in April.
"I'm not surprised," Yacaman said. "I think spending a few days with Juan really helped me a lot. I think he helped me get really comfortable with the car and he gave me some really good tips that showed up today. Hopefully we can keep this up for the race. [Engineers Nicholas and Dominic] Cape had a great car two years ago with JR [Hildebrand] and the car was really good. The credit goes to them. All I had to do was sit there with the pedal to the metal."
Pippa Mann was second fastest, followed by series returnee Jeff Simmons, in-form Charlie Kimball and defending race winner Wade Cunningham, who is also returning for the biggest race of the year.
Simmons parlayed success in Indy Lights into IndyCar Series rides with Mo Nunn Racing and Rahal Letterman Racing, but has signed to drive with Team E for the 28 May Freedom 100, while 2005 Indy Lights champion Cunningham returns to defend his 2009 race win with Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
"I wanted to build up gradually, and I think it was a testament to everybody at Team E that we were so quick right off the bat," Simmons said, "We had a good starting set-up and we kept the car in a good window. I got the chance to slowly work my way into traffic and feeling that out, because I haven't had that for almost two years. The last time I raced was Kentucky of '08, so be able to have a car that I could be confident in was great.
"We were quick, basically in the top three, all day and, if we wanted to play the super-drafting game at the end, we probably could have gone a little quicker but, when we come back, the track is going to be different from having the IndyCars run on it."
Cunningham, the only two-time winner of the Firestone Freedom 100, said wining again at Indianapolis would be an accomplishment.
"The car rolled out pretty strong this morning, but we have a fair amount of work to do on the car before race day," the Kiwi noted, "We're pretty sure, come race time, we'll be battling the top teams for the pole. It's really close, but it's hard to tell what everyone has with fuel and downforce levels. But this is practice and, in two weeks, we go racing."
Current points leader JK Vernay had a typical reaction to seeing the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time.