Sage Karam ran 226 mph on Monday afternoon, Tony Kanaan was over 225 mph and seven other drivers topped 224 mph in the next-to-last practice period for the 102nd Indianapolis 500.
But Helio Castroneves, one of those in the 224 mph club, had a message afterwards.
“Today’s times don’t matter,” said the three-time Indy winner, who will start eighth on Sunday. “Today was for the press and your sponsors.
“It’s all about how you run in traffic and I’m about 60 percent happy. But I looked around, and it didn’t look like anyone is strong.”
So when Carb Day dawns and the sun comes out and the temperature gets to 88 degrees, it’s back to the drawing board again?
“Absolutely,” he replied. “I think you’re going to see everybody running a lot of laps.”
It was overcast and only 79 degrees Monday but plenty of drivers, Castroneves included, had some big moments as teams continued to struggle to find balance with the new aero package.
Karam, who will start from 24th for DRR, was pleased with his progress, but tempered.
“I think we made it a little bit better but we’re still struggling a little bit,” he said. “Everybody looks like they’re struggling so it’s not that big of a deal. If I was the only I’d feel a lot worse. I was able to make some passes and run with the fast guys. But I think this is going to be the most challenging Indy 500 of my five.”
It was certainly challenging for Robert Wickens on Monday. The impressive rookie from Canada tagged the Turn 2 wall in his SPM Honda but broke the suspension and that, in turn, made his car take a sharp right and he clouted the concrete on the backstretch. His car was extensively damaged.
“I caught it, then just ran out of tracking [and] brushed the wall,” said Wickens, slated to start 18th on Sunday. “I was just trying to slow down and get it under control and then the car went violently to the right and head-on into the wall.”