Three Complete Indy ROP On Opening Day

Rookie Carlos Munoz (left) gets some advice from teammate James Hinchcliffe Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (IndyCar Photo)

Vautier is the defending Firestone Indy Lights Series champion and a rookie competitor in the IZOD IndyCar Series this season for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

“That was so much faster than an Indy Lights car,” Vautier said. “It was harder to run slow when they were asking us to stay between the lower speed ranges because it was difficult to judge how much to lift to stay in that segment. It was fun, though. I managed 15 laps at full speed at the end and loved it. Everything happens faster in these cars, and you need to anticipate everything. It’s easier to make a mistake, and you have to be on it all the time.”

Vautier received some coaching instruction from two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk during ROP.

“It was great to have Arie as a coach because he has so much experience here that you know you can trust what he’s saying to you,” Vautier said. “It was very good because he was giving me just enough advice and still letting me work with the team. If I have any more questions over the month, I’ll definitely be asking Arie.”

It is expected to be even colder on Sunday for the second day of practice but the weather will warm up dramatically by mid-week. Because of that, so is the competition as there is now 33 car/driver combinations in this year’s 97th Indianapolis 500.

“It’s still very early in the process but we got what we needed for today so I am happy with that,” Carpenter said. “We really aren’t worried about trying to get a fast lap right now. We certainly want to be competitive, so if we are at the top each day, that will make us happy as we move toward qualifying. We make so many plans coming into the month of May, and we get our competitive juices flowing. You have to try very hard to stay with your plan and not move off of it. It’s not even a nice day out here, and I’m very excited to be here and driving on the track.

“We point so much for this event each year, and our whole team is very anxious to get on the track. Not everyone ran today, but I wanted to get a couple of things done today. Being the team owner, I can make the call when we go out on track. My sister reminded me that it’s been a decade since I won the (Firestone) Indy Lights race here, the first Freedom 100. That seems crazy, and it seems even crazier that this will hopefully be my 10th ‘500’ start, so I consider myself to be pretty lucky to make so many of these.”