Kosuke Matsuura and 'team-mate' Adrian Fernandez turned in the fastest times of Miller Lite Carb Day, underlining their potential for a surprise victory in Sunday's Indianapolis 500.

Carb Day provides the final opportunities for the qualified teams and drivers to make pre-race adjustments for the race, and the two-hour Thursday session saw all 33 combinations take to the track to complete 624 incident-free laps of shaking down chassis and scrubbing in the tyres before the immortal words are issued on Sunday morning.

"It was a very, very good test," Matsuura reported, having confirmed the speed that saw him classified as the fastest rookie on this year's grid, "This whole month, my team, my mechanics did a very good job, and the car seems to be very good - both cars, me and Adrian.

"The car is very fast and, for drafting, has a very good balance. Everything is perfect. Now we have to think on pit-stop strategy and race strategy, but I am ready for the race - and I am very confident."

Team owner Fernandez was a couple of tenths adrift of his Japanese colleague, and able to issue a refrain that has become commonplace in his camp this month.

"It was another good day for us," he smiled, "We had a great day. We basically did just a few laps, making sure that we did what we have been doing all month. The cars are good, and that's it. We are ready to race."

As in qualifying, Honda drivers again dominated the time sheets, posting seven of the eight fastest speeds, but Toyota-powered reigning IRL champion Scott Dixon was third fastest for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, and is ready to go on Sunday.

"It is about time," he said, when asked about having just one more outing left at Indianapolis this month, "I think, after our qualifying effort, we were sure that the race was the next day after qualifying. It is good to get it over and done with. It would be good if we were racing tomorrow. It just needs to be over and done with."

Rahal-Letterman Racing confirmed its potential - established when Buddy Rice took pole - by putting Vitor Meira and Roger Yasukawa into the top five on Carb Day.

"The car feels better than I expected," the Brazilian admitted, "I've always heard that the month of May is like a puzzle, and that you want to put it all together on Carb Day - and, today, we have done that. We ran five full days of full-tank runs this month, and that is why we are in such good shape right now. We went through everything from tyre pressures to ride heights and all kinds of settings. In the past, I have had a car this quick for qualifying, but I have never had as good a race car as this one and, needless to say, I'm very excited for the race."

"The primary car feels great, and the team did a fantastic job rebuilding the car for the race," team-mate Yasukawa added, "I'm very pleased with the set-up. We ran a lot of laps in traffic earlier last week, and we know how the car feels in those conditions. Today the air was heavy, like on Pole Day, so we had to make a few adjustments for the final run, but I'm very confident."

Rice, for his part, was a little further down the list - in eleventh - but was as happy as his two team-mates.

"We did all of our leak checks and ran a few laps in traffic," he reported, "The car feels great - Vitor's work on full tanks for five days has really paid off for the whole team. I think we will be able to run at the front all day with this set-up."

Practice pace-setter Tony Kanaan took sixth spot, ahead of the under-funded Greg Ray, who began his day by announcing a handful of late sponsorship deals for the 500.

"It was an easy day today," the Brazilian admitted, "We just wanted to check the balance, check the car out and run in some tyres. We just wanted to make sure the car was well-balanced, and I'm happy. The truth is that today is not the day to figure out the set-up - if you hadn't figured it out up 'til now, you'd be in big trouble."

Bruno Junqueira, Sam Hornish and Darren Manning rounded out the top ten, all apparently content with the way things were running, while front row starters Dan Wheldon and Dario Franchitti lingered slightly further back, in twelfth and 16th respectively.

"The balance felt very, very good," Wheldon said of his mount, "I think we were running on our own just a little too much, but we did get a good feel for it. The big thing about this race is making sure you perfect your car as the race goes on, making sure it is good at the end. I think this set-up gives us a chance at winning if everything goes right."

Franchitti was not quite so happy with the third of the AGR machines, however, and goes into Sunday's race with a couple of things on his mind.

"I may have to wait until Sunday night to tell you just how good the ArcaEx car is," he admitted, "We had a couple of dramas today and a couple of things to sort out. But, I'm glad we had today's session to do that. We'll just have to wait and see what happens Sunday."

With the experienced Ray and Buddy Lazier - in 15th - leading the way among the Bump Day qualifiers, others took the chance to add to their track time, with rookie Jeff Simmons completing 25 laps in the second Mo Nunn car. The IPS regular out-paced team-mate Tora Takagi, taking 22nd place.

"We started this morning working on the downforce but, unfortunately, we did not have an opportunity to run with too many other cars out there," Simmons reported, "We ended up making some small mechanical changes on the car and I would anticipate that we will stick with them. We are looking forward to Race Day and hope that both the track and race will come to us."

Robby McGehee managed to complete his first full tank runs in the PDM car and returned to the pits knowing that he and the team had a little more work to carry out.

"We learned a lot about the car," he admitted, "I just wish we had been able to do this earlier. We had a push, and it got loose in turn one a couple of times, but we worked on getting a comfortable car for me to race. We'll go back to the garage and make some more adjustments, and then use the first part of the race to tune the car so we can be strong at the end - when it counts."

 

Comments

Loading Comments...