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Indy 500: Drivers forced to chill out on Tuesday

The weather once again defeated the IndyCar teams and drivers that had been hoping on finally getting started with their program of preparations for this weekend's vital qualifying.
Those teams that decided not to put in any serious laps on Monday because it was a little too windy or too cold might be ruing that decision today, after the teams had to write off the entire Tuesday practice session for the 2011 Indianapolis 500.

In fact the track was actually open for a little over four hours, but the conditions were so cold that they were far outside any realistic parameters for qualifying or race day and as such everyone agreed it was pointless even setting foot on track.

Alex Lloyd was among those to take solace online by updating his Twitter feed: "Wish this weather in Indy would bugger off back to wherever it came from," he tweeted mid-afternoon.

Finally the clouds put the drivers out of their misery by delivering drizzle onto the facility at just after 4pm, and the officials brought out the chequered flag to end the practice session almost two hours earlier than scheduled.

"I'm done sitting around a garage. Going home for a cup of tea. Try get some running in tomorrow," tweeted Lloyd. "Frustrated not to get on track today. Oh well... If the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off."

While the teams had felt that Monday's mid-60s Fahrenheit (around 17 Celsius) conditions had only merited a couple of dozen laps, todays' shockingly cold conditions dropped the air temperature in the morning into the mid 40s (5 Celsius), and it barely topped 50F all day.

The big chill left everyone milling around in the garage area huddled in their coats.

"These were certainly not ideal weather conditions and aren't representative of what we're going to see in a few days," said Andretti Autosports' Mike Conway. "It didn't make too much sense to log a lot of laps ... When it's that cold, unless the race is going to be like that, it's not really worth running out there. We won't learn too much in it. Not much to be gained today."

Such cold conditions - more typical of late autumn than late spring in Indianapolis - would have adversely affected the grip of the cars and increased the chances of seeing them fly off into the wall, something that no team wants to see. Even the top outfits would wince at the cost in terms of time or money doing that, especially as the data the teams would get would be effectively worthless once normal temperature service is resumed.

Only Conway and his team mate Marco Andretti actually ventured out onto the track at all, and then only for a combined 13 laps. Conway's time was 40.9259s (219.910mph) and Andretti's was 40.7875s (220.656mph) but the figures were meaningless and were well off the times seen on Monday.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Helio Castroneves poses for photos with fans in Gasoline Alley at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after poor weather halts practice on Tuesday, May 17. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
A KV Racing Technology crew member works on the #82 of Tony Kanaan, as poor weather at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway halts practice on Tuesday, May 17. [Picture credit: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media]
Mike Conway and his team boss Michael Andretti huddle up in pit lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after poor weather halts practice on Tuesday, May 17. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Tomas Scheckter sits in the #07 for pit stop challenge practice in pit lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after poor weather halts practice on Tuesday, May 17. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
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