SPEEDWAY, Ind. – The “Andretti Armada” continued during Tuesday’s six-hour practice session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as all five Andretti Autosport drivers went onto the track to simulate Race Day conditions.
The same car that was on top of the speed list on Monday was also the fast car on Tuesday, but it was a different driver behind the wheel.
Marco Andretti was the fast driver Monday and James Hinchcliffe took the No. 25 Dallara/Chevrolet onto the track for Tuesday’s practice to get a feel for Andretti’s setup. Hinchcliffe must have liked it as he turned a fast lap of 224.210 miles per hour in Andretti’s car in what was boosted by strong tows on the track from other cars.
“We’re good at playing Tow Wars,” Hinchcliffe said of Andretti Autosport. “Not only did I rock the big tow that Marco is famous for I did it in his car. It’s good to be up there but at the end of the day those numbers don’t mean a lot right now. It’s the work you do on the race car and how it will perform in a few weeks.”
Tire management is a key as each car is allowed 32 sets of tires for the month. Each car needs to set aside 12-13 sets of tires for the race so it is very important to manage tires for the long practice runs as well as have the right sets of tires available for qualifications and – worst case scenario – Bump Day.
“We work backwards at the start of the month,” Hinchcliffe said. “We set aside what we need for the race and qualifying day and Bump Day because you can’t assume anything. That is why normally everybody goes out at the end of the day and does a full run, maybe two full runs at the end of the day. You try to do it in the most realistic conditions for what you think Race Day conditions well be. This was a hot day, which is good. We needed a hot, nasty, slick race track and we got that.
“We don’t know what it will do on Race Day yet but we have done some running in the cool weather and now we are in the hot weather so we will be ready for whatever Memorial Day throws at us. It’s a fluid situation but we probably go through two sets of tires a day.”
J.R. Hildebrand of Panther Racing was able to grab hold of the Andretti’s tow with a lap at 223.652 mph in a Dallara/Chevrolet. That was on Hildebrand’s third lap out of the 67 that he ran on Tuesday.