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Viso Gets A Grip, Puts Down Fast Lap On Fast Friday

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 18 2013

E.J. Viso almost pulled off some Indy magic on Friday. (Jim Haines photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

E.J. Viso flirted with the magic 230 mph barrier during “Fast Friday” practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, further stamping any-and-all of Andretti Autosport’s Chevrolet-powered roster as the drivers to beat during Saturday’s Pole Day qualifications for the 97th Indianapolis 500.

Viso recorded a lap of 39.2093-seconds at 229.537 mph in the No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA CITGO Dallara/Chevrolet at 1:07 p.m., just before rain brought an early end to activity on Day 7 of practice. At noon, the ambient temperature was 81 degrees with a relative humidity of 49 percent and variable winds at three mph. Skies were mostly cloudy. Track temperature was 108 degrees, according to Firestone Racing engineers. INDYCAR officials officially ended the session due to heavy rain at 3:42 p.m.

Viso’s lap was the fastest recorded around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval since 2003.

Viso’s Andretti Autosport teammates _ Marco Andretti (39.3435-seconds/228.754 mph) and rookie Carlos Munoz (39.3839-seconds/228.520 mph), were next in line on the speed chart.

An Andretti Autosport driver has been the fastest in five of seven practice days this month, with Munoz the only driver to top the chart twice. The breakdown:

_ Saturday, May 11: No. 20 Ed Carpenter, 220.970 mph (Ed Carpenter Racing)

_ Sunday, May 12: No. 26 Carlos Munoz, 223.023 mph (Andretti Autosport)

_Monday, May 13: No. 25 Marco Andretti, 225.100 mph (Andretti Autosport)

_ Tuesday, May 14: No. 25 James Hinchcliffe, 224.210 mph, in Marco Andretti’s car (Andretti Autosport)

_ Wednesday, May 15: No. 10 Dario Franchitti, 224.236 mph (Target Chip Ganassi Racing)

_ Thursday, May 16: No. 26 Munoz, 225.163 mph (Andretti Autosport)

_ Friday, May 17: No. 5 E.J. Viso, 229.537 mph (Andretti Autosport)

Viso said he and his team took baby steps all week before mashing the pedal during what traditionally is the fastest practice session of the Month of May.

“Until that point, I believe our realistic time was in the high 227s or low 228s,” Viso said. “There are so many factors in play when we were running that we really won’t know until all of the factors are the same for everyone. I think that we have evolved as a team and heading into the right direction. Every day we’ve been on the track and testing a number of pieces on the car. And, as of today, we have a stronger car than what we started the week with.

“It’s all about finding as much mechanical grip as possible, and when it comes time to trim it, you should be in a good position if you did your homework.”

Despite the rainout, two hours of track time remain available (8-10 a.m.) preceding the 11 a.m. (ET) start of the first segment of qualifications. Twenty-four positions will be filled until 4 p.m., when the top nine entries that posted the best four-lap average speed return at 4:30 for a 90-minute shootout to determine the Verizon P1 Award and set the first three rows for the race on May 26.

Andretti lamented Friday’s shortened practice for his No. 25 RC Cola Dallara/Chevrolet, but wasn’t sweating Saturday morning’s session. “I’ll be in my bed,” Andretti said. “You don’t learn a lot. In fact, you can fool yourself. So I think we’re close enough from our last couple of runs that we can just run it and qualify.

“I reckon we would have been over 230 (mph) if we would have had a full day. But, obviously, those were tow laps. I think as a team we’re quite comfortable with our speeds. Tomorrow it’s just going to come down to having a good balance.”

Asked if Andretti Autosport should be considered pole favorites, Viso cautioned about taking a team featuring a three-time Indy 500 champion for granted.

“The Penske guys have showed they are strong,” Viso said. “I think Helio (Castroneves) didn’t put everything he had in his run before it rained. Will (Power) was fast. AJ (Allmendinger) was the first car to go out on the track, and he was not totally trimmed and he was competitive. Those guys are also doing their homework, and that’s what we’re here for. It’s fun. It‘s a great month and the more competitive it is makes it better for the series, better for the team. It’s better for everyone, and it’s really what we like.”

Chevrolet-powered Dallaras rounded out the top five. Power ran fourth at 39.4043-seconds/228.401 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevy while JR Hildebrand (39.5519-seconds/227.529 mph) was fifth in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Dallara/Chevy.

Munoz, driver of the No. 26 Unistraw Dallara/Chevy, clearly is among the pole contenders despite his first-year status. The last rookie to qualify on-pole for the 500 was Teo Fabi in 1983.

“I’m really excited going into my first qualifying run for the Indy 500; it’s a dream come true,” said Munoz, the Firestone Indy Lights point-leader. “Ever since I was small, I wanted to be in this race. I remember watching (Juan Pablo) Montoya win the Indianapolis 500 in 2000. This is a special race for me; I’m going to give everything I have tomorrow.”

INDYCAR officials reiterated that boost levels for the 2.2-liter turbocharged V6 engines powering the IZOD IndyCar Series will remain unchanged for the Indy 500.

As with the 2012 race, the boost level will be increased from 130 kPa to 140 kPa for Saturday’s Pole Day qualifications and Bump Day qualifications on Sunday.

The change in pressure adds about a 40-horsepower boost to the engines produced by Chevrolet (twin-turbocharged Chevy IndyCar V6) and Honda (single turbocharged Honda HI13R). The boost level will return to 130 kPa for final practice on Coors Light Carb Day on Friday, May 24, and the 500-mile race Sunday, May 26.

Thirty-two drivers logged 707 laps during the session without incident. But the afternoon rain prevented rookie Conor Daly from turning any practice laps. Daly’s No. 41 ABC Supply Co. Dallara/Honda fielded by A.J. Foyt Racing made contact with the SAFER Barrier exiting Turn 1 on Thursday.

Veteran team race strategist Larry Curry detailed the repair process earlier Friday. “We got the car in here after the accident and got it taken apart and assessed the damage,” Curry said. “We worked last night until midnight then sent everybody home. Then we all came back in here at 6 o’clock this morning. We just fired it up at 12:30 (Friday). We were shooting for getting it out on the track between 3 and 4 p.m. to at least get a shakedown run on it.

“A.J. just had us fix the car straight-up. We did not go out and take apart the backup car that’s out in the truck to put parts on this one. Header-wise, the header manufacturer didn’t have what we needed, and so we were able to get a set from Ganassi (Racing). Other than that, I think everything else we have been able to get from the vendors.”

The BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer Award was presented to engineers Dale Harrigle and Brett Schilling from Bridgestone Americas Motorsports for the Firestone Firehawk™ Indy 500 Race Tire during a ceremony Friday morning in the IMS Media Center.

Presented by engineers to engineers, the 47th annual award recognizes individuals for innovation and engineering excellence in race car design associated with the annual Indianapolis 500. Winners are honored at an awards banquet, and their names added to the Schwitzer trophy on permanent display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. The $10,000 award is sponsored by BorgWarner and presented to the winning engineer(s) by the Indiana Section of SAE International.

Initiated in 1967, the award memorializes automotive pioneer, engineer and professional race car driver Louis Schwitzer. In 1909, Schwitzer won the first auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He also designed the “Marmon Yellow Jacket” engine that powered the Marmon Wasp to victory at the first Indy 500 in 1911.

After working in the automotive industry for many years, Schwitzer founded the Schwitzer Corporation, which produced innovative cooling fans, water pumps and turbochargers. In 1999, the Schwitzer Corporation joined BorgWarner. Schwitzer enjoyed numerous technological accomplishments, supported higher education, led the IMS tech committee and maintained a strong association with SAE.

A total of 42 cars are at the Speedway, all passing technical inspection. Thirty-three drivers have been on the track to-date, turning 725 laps Friday and 10,352 laps this month. Josef Newgarden, driver of the No. 21 Sarah Fisher Hartman/Century 21 Dallara/Honda, turned 47 laps Friday, most of any driver. There were three cautions for a total of 53 minutes.

97th INDIANAPOLIS 500 POLE DAY QUALIFYING DRAW

QP (Car No.) Driver

1 (40) TBA

2 (9 )Scott Dixon (W)

3 (14) Takuma Sato

4 (15) Graham Rahal

5 (14T) Takuma Sato

6 (2) AJ Allmendinger (R)

7 (6T) Sebastian Saavedra

8 (91) Buddy Lazier (W)

9 (8T) Ryan Briscoe

10 (78) Simona de Silvestro

11 (83T) Charlie Kimball

12 (40T) TBA

12A (60T) Townsend Bell

14 (27) James Hinchcliffe

15 (27T) James Hinchcliffe

16 (9T) Scott Dixon (W)

17 (41) Conor Daly (R)

18 (3T) Helio Castroneves (W)

19 (16T) James Jakes

20 (12T) Will Power

21 (7) Sebastien Bourdais

22 (19) Justin Wilson

23 (3) Helio Castroneves (W)

24 (11T) Tony Kanaan

25 (1T) Ryan Hunter-Reay

26 (78T) Simona de Silvestro

27 (16) James Jakes

28 (99T) TBA

29 (5T) E.J. Viso

30 (22T) Oriol Servia

31 (18T) Ana Beatriz

32 (6) Sebastian Saavedra

33 (63) Pippa Mann

34 (60) Townsend Bell

35 (20T) Ed Carpenter

36 (5) E.J. Viso

37 (98) Alex Tagliani

38 (12) Will Power

39 (77T) Simon Pagenaud

40 (25T) Marco Andretti

41 (8) Ryan Briscoe

42 (11) Tony Kanaan

43 (21) Josef Newgarden

44 (55) Tristan Vautier (R)

45 (10) Dario Franchitti (W)

46 (18) Ana Beatriz

47 (4T) JR Hildebrand

48 (19T) Justin Wilson

49 (10T) Dario Franchitti (W)

50 (55T) Tristan Vautier (R)

51 (83) Charlie Kimball

52 (20) Ed Carpenter

53 (1) Ryan Hunter-Reay

54 (17) Michel Jourdain Jr.

55 (26T) Carlos Munoz (R)

56 (26) Carlos Munoz (R)

57 (2T) AJ Allmendinger (R)

58 (4) JR Hildebrand

59 (25) Marco Andretti

60 (21T) Josef Newgarden

61 (98T) Alex Tagliani

62 (99) TBA

63 (7T) Sebastien Bourdais

64 (41T) Conor Daly (R)

65 (77) Simon Pagenaud

66 (15T) Graham Rahal

67 (63T) Pippa Mann

68 (22) Oriol Servia

Note: (W) _ Winner. (R) _ Rookie.

SATURDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local):

6 a.m.

Garages open

8-10 a.m.

Indianapolis 500 practice (Group 1, 8-8:30 a.m.; Group 2, 8:30-9 a.m.; All cars, 9-10 a.m.)

11 a.m.-4 p.m.

First Segment Pole Day Qualifying

11:15 a.m.-4 p.m.

First Segment Qualifying media availability (each qualified driver), Economaki Press Conference Room

4:30-6 p.m.

Fast Nine Qualifying

6:05 p.m.

Fast Nine Qualifying media availability, Economaki Press Conference Room

6:20 p.m.

Verizon P1 Pole Award Winner media availability, Economaki Press Conference Room

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 18 2013
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