Carpenter Blows Past 230 MPH Barrier On Fast Friday

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 17 2014

Ed Carpenter passed the magic number on Friday at Indianapolis. (File photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

Ed Carpenter cracked the magic 230 mph barrier during “Fast Friday” practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, adding the Verizon IndyCar Series owner/driver to the elite list of pole-position players for the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Carpenter’s lap of 39.0418-seconds/230.522 mph around the 2.5-mile oval was turned less than 15 minutes into an abbreviated “Fast Friday” session, setting the stage for a possible run at a 230 mph four-lap average during qualifications Saturday and Sunday. The last driver to top 230 mph in a practice session was Scott Dixon, who lapped at more than 233 mph in the pre-Pole Day session in 2003.

“The car is definitely up to speed this year,” said Carpenter, driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Dallara/Chevrolet. “When it comes to predicting the pole, I think a lot of it will be figuring out what the weather is. If it warms up enough and the air gets a little thinner, certainly I think 230s are realistic, even up to 232 and 233.”

Carpenter earned the Verizon P1 Award last May with a four-lap average speed of 228.762 mph and a top speed of 229.347 mph on Lap 1. It was the best four-lap average since 2006, when Sam Hornish Jr. won the pole with a four-lap average of 228.985 mph en route to winning “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for Team Penske.

Rainstorms continued to play havoc with practice again on Friday, as the teams battled cold, windy and wet conditions. The session was halted after 19 minutes because of rain. Carpenter, second-fastest to three-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves on Thursday, recorded just eight laps. Carpenter clocked 230 mph on his fifth lap at 3:08 p.m.

The Verizon IndyCar Series’ mandated turbo boost level was increased from 130 kPa to 140 kPa for “Fast Friday” and for qualifications this weekend. The change in pressure adds about a 40-horsepower boost to the twin-turbocharged Chevy IndyCar V6 and Honda twin turbocharged HI14TT. The boost level will return to 130 kPa for final practice on Coors Light Carb Day on Friday, May 23, and the race Sunday, May 25.

“You can definitely feel the speed difference with the added horsepower now,” said Carpenter, the 2013 Indy 500 pole-winner. “They never give us the horsepower numbers. It’s a graph to show what they have added for qualifying trim.

“It looks like we have better competition from Honda this year with speed than last year. I’ve been fortunate to be in a tow the last two days here, so we’ll have to see how things line up on Saturday for qualifying.”

First round of qualifications are scheduled Saturday from 11 a.m. -5:50 p.m. (EDT), with the 33 starting positions, including the Verizon P1 Award, to be determined Sunday. Qualifications will be televised live Saturday on ABC from 4-6 p.m. and 1-3 p.m. on Sunday.

At noon Friday, ambient temperature was 53 degrees and track temperature was 70 degrees, according to Firestone engineers. Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe, who was cleared to drive Thursday after suffering a concussion during Saturday’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis road-race, was first on the track at 2:50 p.m. But with rain falling, the session was halted at 4:20 p.m.

Four different teams were represented in the top five, seven entries posted a lap speed above 229 mph, and 10 more bettered the month’s previous best of 227.166 mph set a day earlier by Castroneves in the No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet.

Castroneves was second-fast (39.1571-seconds/229.843 mph). Marco Andretti was third (39.2296-seconds/229.419 mph) in the No. 25 Snapple Dallara/Honda for Andretti Autosport, while Carpenter’s teammate, JR Hildebrand, was fourth (39.2355-seconds/229.384 mph) in the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Dallara/Chevrolet. Josef Newgarden of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing was fifth (39.2540-seconds/229.276 mph) in the No. 67 Dallara/Honda after turning only six laps.

All entries are guaranteed one attempt to qualify on Saturday. The fastest 33 cars will make up the provisional field for the race based upon the fastest four-lap average time. Once Saturday’s qualifying session ends, the top 30 cars will be locked into the traditional field. However, all 33 cars must re-qualify on Sunday to determine final starting positions with the fastest nine cars advancing to a shootout to determine the Verizon P1 Award.

Thirty-four drivers have been on-track to-date, turning 168 laps Friday and 7,611 laps this month. Dixon, the three-time/reigning IndyCar Series champion from Target Chip Ganassi Racing, and Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport each turned 11 laps Friday, most of any driver. There was 1 caution for a total of 1 hour, 11 minutes and 1 seconds Friday.

Six drivers from four different teams have topped the speed chart during Month of May practices. Team Penske and Andretti Autosport are the only teams to be fastest more than once. A breakdown:

_ Sunday, May 11: Will Power, 223.057 mph, No. 12 Verizon Dallara/Chevrolet (Team Penske).

_ Monday, May 12: Ryan Hunter-Reay, 225.025 mph, No. 28 DHL Dallara/Honda (Andretti Autosport).

_ Tuesday, May 13: E.J. Viso, filling in for James Hinchcliffe, 224.488 mph, No. 27 United Fiber & Data Dallara/Honda (Andretti Autosport).

_ Wednesday, May 14: Simon Pagenaud, 224.210 mph, No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda.

_ Thursday, May 15: Helio Castroneves, 227.166 mph, No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Dallara/Chevrolet (Team Penske).

_ Friday, May 16: Ed Carpenter, 230.522 mph, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Dallara/Chevrolet (Ed Carpenter Racing).

Frenchman Simon Pagenaud will honor his racing hero, the late Ayrton Senna, by wearing a specially-designed helmet in the Indianapolis 500. A three-time Formula One World Driving Champion from Brazil, Senna died 20 years ago this month from head injuries suffered in a single-car crash in Italy while driving for Williams F1.

Pagenaud was joined by Brazilians and Indy 500 champions Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran in unveiling a helmet to be auctioned-off to benefit the Instituto Ayrton Senna, which aids needy children in Brazil.

“Ayrton Senna has been my lifelong hero,” said Pagenaud, who won the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis last Saturday. “Even though I never met him, I inspired (modeled) my whole life after him, understanding what it was all about, what he was thinking, his approach to racing _ focused and dedicated _ and that strength he had about concentrating. To me, this is a way to continue his legacy somehow. This is the only way I could find to do something and show my passion for what he did.”

Kanaan, the reigning Indy 500 champion, said Senna clearly influenced his early career. “I owe a lot to Ayrton for where I am today,” said Kanaan, who is in his first year with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. “When I was young and just getting onto racing, I remember before the last race in the contract I had, Ayrton told me he would help me any way he could. He told my car-owner that he would be smart to keep me. And he did.

“Ayrton was a hero to almost everyone in Brazil and I was amazed at how he was received all over the world. It was not just about what he had done, but more about what it had led to. We have won 500s (referring to himself, Castroneves and de Ferran) and we’re still not as great as he was.”

The 48th annual BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer Award was presented Friday to Andrea Toso, head of research and development and U.S. Racing Leader for Dallara, for the Dallara Racing Simulator. The award was presented during a ceremony in the IMS Media Center.

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

Founded in 1967, the award memorializes Louis Schwitzer as an automotive pioneer, engineer and professional race car driver. Schwitzer designed the “Marmon Yellow Jacket” engine that powered Ray Harroun and the famed Marmon Wasp to victory at the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 17 2014
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