INDIANAPOLIS – The unseasonably cool race-day conditions have thrown a wrench into preparations for all 25 cars in this afternoon’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
Two drivers – Graham Rahal and Josef Newgarden – have additional hurdles to overcome after their cars were penalized for not meeting the minimum car weight in technical inspection following Friday’s Verizon P1 Award qualifying session.
So instead of starting the 82-lap race on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in third and fifth place, respectively, Rahal and Newgarden will line up 24th and 25th. Rahal did show his potential by running fastest in this morning’s warmup session (1 minute, 9.6045 seconds; 126.147 mph), while Newgarden was seventh quick (1:10.0124, 125.412 mph).
CLICK HERE: Warmup practice results; Combined practice results
But they both know the challenge ahead is immense.
“We’ve got to just make something happen from the back now,” said Newgarden, driver of the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing. “Where we qualified yesterday was going to be a lot easier to try and win the thing, with good strategy, good pit stops and a couple passes. Now we’ve got to pass a lot of cars and we’ve got to have really good pit stops. I don’t know if it changes anything, it just puts more emphasis on getting it right. It’s going to be harder.”
The race forecast calls for cloudy skies with a high of 50 degrees Fahrenheit, some 20 degrees below normal and totally different conditions than the first two days of the race weekend.
"The projected race weather is definitely going to affect tire grip, degradation and things like that, so going into the race will be a little bit of guesswork about tire strategy and even setup,” said James Hinchcliffe, who will start third today in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda.
Newgarden said the cool conditions won’t help his charge from the back.
“I think you’re not going to get as much tire wear, which is not good for me,” he said. “I kind of want people to wear (their tires) out and I don’t think they’re going to. It would be better if it was hotter, but it is what it is.”
Alexander Rossi was second this morning in the No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda for Andretti Autosport (1:09.6504, 126.064 mph) and Carlos Munoz gave Honda a sweep of the top three in the Andretti Autsport No. 26 hhgregg entry (1:09.6626, 126.042 mph). Pole sitter Simon Pagenaud was fourth in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet (1:09.7543, 125.876 mph).
Coverage of the third annual Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis begins at 3 p.m. ET on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Network (affiliate stations, Sirius 212, XM 209 and IndyCar.com) and at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC.
The race is the fifth on the 16-race Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. Next up is the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 29 (11 a.m. ET, ABC and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).