IndyCar » 19 May 2011
Indy 500: Power tops full day of practice
Mike Conway is also in this drop zone, having suffered from seemingly intractable problems with the handling of the #27, but with team mates including Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti it has to be expected that the combined efforts of the Andretti Autosports organisation will lift Conway up before Pole Day, and Conway is confident they're already going the right way.
"I think we found a direction for tomorrow," he said, adding that the "car felt pretty comfortable at the end there, so it's just a case of finding what speed we have tomorrow. I just feel more comfortable now with the whole package that we have, so that's good. Just more track time, really, is what I needed."
Simona de Silvestro is also in the danger zone, but that's because her crash today took place after she had managed to run only 6 laps - so in the circumstances her time is actually rather encouraging.
It was a better day than Monday had been for the many of the Brits, with four of them grouped together in 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th: Dan Wheldon was the top British driver in a very healthy-looking Bryan Herta Autosports car, while Justin Wilson was just behind for Dreyer and Reinbold ahead of Franchitti, and Jay Howard impressive in his first real track time after he had opted to sit out Monday's session in order to conserve tyres.
"We had a good day. It was obviously nice to be on track," said Wheldon. "The car today was good. It seemed certainly reasonable in qualifying trim ... There are still some improvements to be made but, for as limited running as we have had, I am pretty encouraged."
"What we were able to do [today] shows just how hard this team works and how good their development process is," said Howard. "We just take the car out with those changes they suggest and keep going faster. I am very encouraged by what we did today."
Pippa Mann was also looking much more comfortable, just breaking the 225mph mark to go 21st, and she agreed that they were getting on top of the handling problems that had blighted their Monday runs.
"On Monday when we were first running, we were struggling a bit with the back of the car. Today we finally got on top of that, and picked up quite a bit of pushing off the corners, so the oversteer had changed to a bit of understeer," she explained. "We've been battling that for most of the day, and this afternoon, right at the very end, we finally made a little bit of progress toward understanding what that is and why it might be happening ... I never thought I'd be so happy to be 21st in a practice session, but in this instance, I genuinely am."
Alex Lloyd was in 28th and Conway in a very disappointing 36th. James Jakes continues to struggle at the bottom of the timesheets, and his speed today - 220.709mph - strongly suggests that he will find it extraordinarily difficult to make it onto the 33-car grid at the weekend.
All 40 drivers spent time out on the track today, and between them they ran 2394 which is more than has been run on all five previous days combined. The warmer conditions meant that everyone was running faster than they had done earlier in the week, so the combined times were largely a reprise of the Practice 6 timesheets; times are expected to tumble still further on the appropriately-named Fast Friday tomorrow, for which the weather forecast is even better than today's had been.
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