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Indy 500: Another day, another washout

Wednesday practice was another victim of the cruel mid-May weather hitting Indianapolis, with drivers coming within one minute of going out on track before the rain started to fall again.
"Welcome to Groundhog Day!" said Conquest Racing driver Pippa Mann, expressing the frustrations of all the IndyCar drivers who spent yet another day standing around the pit lane and garage area of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway without managing to turn a single lap.

"Actually, today wasn't quite Groundhog Day because we did get as far as pit lane," Mann corrected herself. "I actually got as far as being strapped into my car before it started to rain again. One minute to green - I'm sitting there, and suddenly the rain started coming down all around me, so we headed back to the garage area."

Rain had been falling since the morning, and track staff worked hard throughout the day to try and keep the track in a salvageable state. When the rain finally stopped falling in the middle of the afternoon, it looked as though cars might actually get some track time.

Then, just one minute before the track was scheduled to open, more rain swept in over the north end of the track. It was heavy enough - and sufficiently late in the day at approaching four o'clock - to make it impossible for the track staff to rescue the situation a second time, and officials duly called it quits and sent everyone home.

It's the second time this week that the Indianapolis 500 has lost a complete practice day to rain, after Sunday's session was totally washed out. The last time the Indy 500 lost two full days of practice to rain was in 2006.

But that doesn't tell the whole story, since half of the Opening Day session on Saturday was also curtailed by rain, and then all teams and drivers also sat out Tuesday because of bracingly cold and windy conditions that bore no relation to the expected conditions for qualifying and Race Day. That means that in the first five days of practice, the cars have only seen one and a half days of actual on-track activity.

Practice in such anomalous conditions isn't just pointless, it is also potentially dangerous both in the sense of the risk of cold tyres resulting in a costly accident against the wall, and because any lessons learned in such conditions could completely mislead teams trying to find a set-up that will work during the anticipated warmer weekend.

Today's rain was another matter entirely, and the track was officially under caution all day until the session was abandoned at 4.04pm.

"Two days in a row of not getting on track is kind of a bummer," said Will Power, the dismal climate defeating even the Penske driver's natural Aussie optimism.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Gasoline Alley - which links pit lane to the garage area - shows how wet conditions are at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after rain washes out practice on Wednesday, May 18. [Picture credit: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media]
Dragon`s rookies Scott Speed and Ho-Pin Tung are pretty much the fastest thing on four wheels at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after rain washes out practice on Wednesday, May 18. [Picture credit: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media]
Team owners - and IndyCar legends - AJ Foyt and Roger Penske take a chance to catch up at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after rain washes out practice on Wednesday, May 18. [Picture credit: Ron McQueeney for IndyCar Media]
Cars were towed out into pit lane and came within one minute of taking to the track during the Indianapolis Motor Speedway practice session on Wednesday, May 18 - only for the rain to move in again. [Picture credit: Ron McQueeney for IndyCar Media]
Sebastian Saavedra shows his frustration at the delay at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after rain washes out practice on Wednesday, May 18. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Scott Dixon Road America
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi Indy Car [credit: IndyCar TV Twitter]
Will Power Texas
Detroit IndyCar Andretti RHR
Scott Dixon Indy 500
Scott Dixon [credit: IndyCar Series]
Scott Dixon Indy 500 qualifying
Pippa Mann Indy 500 qualifying
Ryan Hunter-Reay Indy 500 practice 2017
Will Power Indy 500 practice
Stefan Wilson, 2016 Indy 500
Will Power - Team Penske

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