Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Dixon (photo above) and Felix Rosenqvist finished neck and neck on the Carburetion Day speed chart, separated by just .030s, aka 0.178mph. That’s the good news. The less-good news is that they finished 19th and 20th, respectively, on the speed chart.
“It didn’t feel like we used the race track very well today,” said Mike Hull. “But we don’t race on Carburetion Day. That’s a good thing! Over the years a lot of people have tuned themselves out of the race on Carburetion Day — probably more than have tuned themselves in.
“Actually, Felix got going pretty well there at the end. It’s his first Indianapolis 500, so he has to get comfortable racing with a whole bunch of cars out on the track. Scott’s on a bit of a different program, but he’ll be fine. As he says, ‘This place can swallow you whole if you let it.’ He won’t let it.”
Hull’s optimism might be a source of some comfort for Dixon, who wasn’t happy with how the No.9 behaved on Friday.
“I hope we find something wrong with the car, because it wasn’t great,” he said “It’s really bizarre, and nothing like we had all month, so we are unsure. We are perplexed as to why this is; there are a lot of new parts on the car – including the gearbox, bellhousing, uprights, etc. So hopefully we find something that is a little off.
“We were just trying to get through some last-minute items, but ultimately it was not great anyway, so we are trying to figure out why. There is a fundamental issue on the car and we’ll work to find out what happened there.”
Dixon was far from alone in struggling on Carb Day, which was both warmer and more humid than practice had been.
Ben Hanley and the DragonSpeed team found themselves at the bottom of the speed chart, posting a best lap of 219.719mph, some 5.7mph off Tony Kanaan’s session-leading pace of 225.517mph. Hanley lost valuable track time attending to an issue with a CV joint and then found some set-up changes the team had made for the hot and muggy conditions were not to his (or the car’s) liking.
“We struggled a bit with the different conditions and the traffic,” Hanley said. “We ran in heavy traffic on Monday and were feeling pretty confident, so we tried to tweak the car a little more in the direction (they’d gone Monday), but we went too far. So we’ll go back to our baseline set-up for the race.”
It was a similar story at Juncos: Kyle Kaiser finished just one notch up from Hanley with a best lap of 221.699mph, but race engineer Tom Brown was, if not delighted, plenty satisfied.
“We were very conservative,” he said. “We just focused on getting Kyle and the car comfortable for the race — making the car good in traffic, working on pit stops, running multiple-downforce configurations for different weather conditions.”
Defending race winner Will Power was underwhelmed with what he wrung from the No.12 Penske Chevy, but suspected that virtually everybody was fighting a lot of the same problems.
“It’s very, very difficult to make the car work in traffic,” he said. “We’ll go back and talk about it and see what kind of changes we need to make.
“We’re not good enough at the moment. I don’t really see anyone good out there — I haven’t seen anyone that looks spectacular. But, based off last year, the car’s definitely not as nice.”