17 May 2011
Indy 500: Drivers forced to chill out on Tuesday
Conway took the #27 out for a quick shakedown after some overnight tweaks as the team try and tackle some glitches that are affecting the car's handling through turn 1 that they noticed in the 51 laps managed on Monday: "We just wanted to feel some of those (changes) and see what we had," said Conway as he shivered in the pits.
Marco then also took the #27 out for five laps, just "to get the feel of a different setup," but confessed that his own car's lack of speed that he had complained of after Monday's practice session was very much on his mind.
"I'm really worried about the speed of our car," he said. "I've driven exactly Danica's setup 3 miles an hour off of her [lap speed]. I can't explain why. I'm worried about qualifying for this race. It is still early days, but I honestly think if you're not going to be qualifying in the top 10 you should be worried."
Teams generally factor in a loss of practice time into their Indy plans, but there has now been only one and a half day's worth of running in the first four days of scheduled practice, after rain curtailed Saturday's session and Sunday was a complete washout. Even Monday, which at least was dry and sunny all day, was deemed to be far from ideal conditions for the teams to work on dialling in their cars for qualifying.
The teams now only have three more days before they hit the crucial Pole Day and Bump Day qualifying sessions over the weekend. Even for the top teams feeling confident in their programs, that's starting to feel worryingly restricted - and for those teams and drivers with issues, like Andretti, it's enough to generate real concern.
"I think guys like me, we could be in trouble if we slip a little bit," Marco admitted. "It's going to be super-competitive out there. We're going to try to get what we can get."
"It's not far away," Mike Conway said of the looming qualifying day. "We always think we have loads of time at the beginning of the week, and then it's always the same thing. You get to the last couple of days, and if you haven't quite got the car right, then you're going to be rushing a bit more.
"It does kind of give us more tyres to use for the rest of the week each day," he said, looking on the bright side. "Hopefully it warms up a bit tomorrow."
Over in the Penske garage, spirits were less troubled as the team's three drivers Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe knew that they - along with Ganassi - would be setting the benchmark everyone else would have to strain to beat. That meant they could be a bit more sanguine about another lost day on the track, and just enjoy the feeling of being around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and mixing with race fans along Gasoline Alley.
"It is always great to be at Indy, just walking through the garage area and seeing the fans that show up braving the elements. It is a shame that the weather hasn't been cooperating with us much this week," said Power, who currently leads the IndyCar championship after four road races. "I have had plenty of time to discuss our strategy moving forward. I am really looking forward to getting back on track."
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