The weather at Indianapolis was transformed on Monday morning, with blue skies and sunshine replacing the dark, wet conditions that saw Sunday's practice session completely washed out.

But conditions still were far from ideal for racing, as a fierce wind whipped across the Indianapolis Motor Speedway making handling through some of the corners particularly difficult.

"We could have weather like this in qualifying or on Race Day, so you have to be able to run in it," asserted Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan's Bertrand Baguette. "The car was moving around out there with the wind, but it wasn't that tough."

But it was also rather cold for Indianapolis at the time of year, which meant that most of the teams weren't inclined to spend too much time fine-tuning the cars for these conditions unless and until it becomes clear that this is what they will face during qualifying and the race itself.

"It was the not the best conditions that we have seen in Indy, but it was okay," said Sam Schmidt Motorsports' Alex Tagliani, who ended up putting in the fastest lap so far seen at IMS in 2011. "We didn't run on the first day and Sunday was raining, so today was the first opportunity for us to run."

Tagliani finished tenth in last year's Indianapolis 500 running for FAZZT, the team bought out earlier this year by Sam Schmidt as the basis for their move across from Firestone Indy Lights. But despite that success last year, Talgliani knows he can't risk being complacent. "It's nice to start the week with a car that's quite strong. Hopefully we can build on it. You can never take anything for granted at this place. We have to stay on our toes all week and roll the car out for qualifying and hope for the best."

The Ganassi duo of Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti were both in the top ten times today in second and seventh respectively, despite having minimal running. "We had a pretty decent day for the Target team," said Dixon. "We switched to the primary car today, and it ran smooth. Hope to run a little more tomorrow."

"We shook down the primary car, which seemed pretty fast,' agreed Franchitti. "We should run more tomorrow, weather permitting."

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves was involved in the Penske effort which seen as the main competition for Ganassi, and all seemed well in that garage too. "We got a chance to run side-by-side with Will, and we were pretty happy with the car," said Helio. "Hopefully tomorrow the weather cooperates, and we'll continue to work hard and get ready for qualifying."

"We did limited running again today in the Verizon Team Penske car," agreed his team mate Will Power. "We're just trying to use our miles wisely."

Over at the KV Racing Technology stable, Tony Kanaan's years of Indy experience showed with his relaxed, confident approach to the start of practice week. "Today was a normal Monday at the Speedway," he reassured everyone. "We tried different things and worked on the setup to get comfortable with the car. We're making what I like to call the 'cookbook' so by the end of the week, we'll look which dish we want to cook, and hopefully it will be a good one."

"It was a windy day, but the weather was clear and consistent," said his team mate Takuma Sato. "We made steady progress throughout the day, and I am getting more comfortable each time I go out on track."

Less happy was Tomas Scheckter, driving the KVRT-SH Racing collaboration car, who had his track time curtailed. "We had a small mechanical issue, which is fixable, but that ended my day very early. I am looking forward to getting back on track tomorrow."

Another driver with some teething problems with his car was Bruno Junquiera, driving for AJ Foyt Racing. "The second lap, the engine cover fell off! But my team did a good job to replace it and get me out for some laps at the end of the day."

Other than Dario in the top ten, the British contingent had a very low key Monday. Justin Wilson was in 16th, while four of the remaining Britons were in the bottom four positions on the timesheets as the session came to an end at 6pm.

"Today was just a pretty tough day at the office," admitted Conquest's Pippa Mann, who ran more laps than anyone else on Monday with a total of 70 circulations. "I've heard from all the veterans that this place can do that to you sometimes, and we definitely just have one of those days. We seemed to spend it chasing our tail a little bit - both literally and figuratively. We've still got a minor handling issue but we're chasing after it, and until we sort that out we just can't risk going after speed."

Alex Lloyd and James Jakes were also slow, while Jay Howard was the only driver of the 40-strong entry field not to take the the track at all on Monday. The Sam Schmidt/Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan joint team said that this was a decision based on tyre management requirements and not the result of any problems.

Another Briton, Andretti Autosport's Mike Conway, was only a little more relaxed with the day's less than stellar results: "We were just trying to get the Hire Heroes car more comfortable through turn 1. We tried a few things but didn't really sort it out," he said. "We just need to look at all the data tonight and figure out how we can move forward. I think our teammates tried a few different things, so hopefully we can figure out some good things for tomorrow."

Actually, his team mate Marco Andretti also had some concerns. "We're getting to where it feels pretty good. But right now I'm a little worried about our speed," he conceded. "I think that if we had qualified today, we might have ended up on the bubble. So we'll put our heads together tonight, have a think on it and then hit it hard again tomorrow."

"We just didn't get a lot of track time today," said Ryan Hunter-Reay, trying to be more optimistic about the state of affairs. "We were trying some big stuff with the [#28] so we'll see. We'll get our heads together on it, the whole team, and we'll figure it out from there. Today is just the tip of the iceberg; there is a lot of week left."

The other member of the Andretti driver-line up, Danica Patrick, summed up the feeling of many of the teams and drivers after the first full day of running: "I thought we were good on our own today and made a little bit of progress. We just need to stay consistent and find speed. It was a steady day."

A total of 1379 laps were run at IMS today, making a grand total of 2048 since noon on Opening Day when the track first opened for the teams to commence practice. 52 cars have now ventured out, including the T-cars (spare cars) that the drivers also need to set up.

Full session times also available.

 

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