17 May 2012
Indy 500: Newgarden fastest, then spins
Josef Newgarden was back at the top of the timesheets at the end of Wednesday's practice, but he ended the day triggering the first yellow of the week for contact with the wall.
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's rookie star Josef Newgarden was on impressive form again on Wednesday, topping the timesheets for the third time in five days with a lap of 222.785mph, once more with just a little help from the draft.
However, his day ended with a trip to the wall 15 minutes before the scheduled end of the session. The #67 grazed the outside wall on the exit of the outside wall coming out of turn 4, and then spun across the track to make more emphatic contact against the inside wall despite managing to control the spin so that he only made light contact with the front left of the car, resulting in some light front suspension and wing damage.
"You don't get many lucky breaks around this place, and I think I just got one!" said Newgarden, who was able to climb from the car unassisted and quickly released following the usual mandatory trip to the infield care centre. "It was definitely something that got my attention when it broke away in the corner.
"It's just difficult running in the tow, and obviously, being a rookie trying to figure that out, sometimes it bites you," he added. It's the first yellow caused by an accident or spin at Indianapolis Motor Speedway so far since practice started on Saturday.
"We were old on our tyre run and trying to run as far as possible to see how the car reacts," he said. "I'll try to learn what happened and why the thing got around on me. Everyone's trying to figure out the race car around this place, and obviously I have a little more work to do."
The session was missing the large scale pack racing trials that dominated much of the later half of the Tuesday session, but the Andretti Autosport contingent were once again looking strong and occupied the next three spots with Marco Andretti in second (222.108mph, 40.5208s), Ryan-Hunter-Reay third (221.763mph, 40.5839s) and James Hinchcliffe fourth (221.638mph, 40.6067s) just 0.0028s ahead of Ganassi's Dario Franchitti.
Franchitti - along with Newgarden and also Justin Wilson in sixth place - was one of the few drivers to post their best time of the week so far on Wednesday.
"We worked on a lot of stuff," said Franchitti after setting a best time of 221.623mph (40.6095s.) "Just finding our way around this car and just finding out what it likes. We ran in traffic for the first time, and it actually went pretty well. I caught a nice balance. We're just trying to zero in on what we need."
"I believe the wind speed and direction has changed the track slightly," Wilson tweeted during the day on his way to recording a best lap speed of 221.420mph (40.6468s.) "Healthy tail wind into turn 1."
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