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Tuesday May 5th, 2015 1:35PM

Andretti Autosport flexes its muscles on Indy Monday

By IndyCar Media
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - Verizon IndyCar Series drivers made use of every minute Monday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the second day of practice for the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500, recording more than three times as many laps as opening day.

Five of the 30 drivers who participated topped 100 laps on the 2.5-mile oval -- half the race distance -- including Ryan Hunter-Reay, who also posted the fastest lap of 225.025 mph (39.996 seconds) in the No. 28 DHL car for Andretti Autosport.

"We got a lot of work done today, a lot for what we need for the race weekend," said Hunter-Reay. "It's nice leading practice. It's a nice little consolation prize. I wish it paid. I was out there pushing like it was paying. It was fun with my teammates. That's the great thing about Andretti Autosport, we have five quick cars and we can all run together."

Of the 33 entries, the cars for Sebastian Saavedra (involved in crash at start of Grand Prix of Indianapolis), James Davison and Buddy Lazier are the only ones who have not been on the racetrack yet.

Hunter-Reay's teammate, Marco Andretti, had set the standard early in the six-hour session with a lap of 224.037 in the No. 25 Snapple car before Hunter-Reay's fast lap with a tow in the final 15 minutes under a cloudy sky. For the second consecutive day, the five Andretti Autosport drivers took turns touring the oval in packs with a purpose.

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves (223.635 mph) was third on the speed chart, while Justin Wilson (223.611) was fourth and Juan Pablo Montoya (223.395) was fifth.

Reigning Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan, 11th on the speed chart, logged a field-high 131 laps in the silver No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.

Practice continues Tuesday from noon-6 p.m. (ET). Qualifications are May 17-18.

In other news, four-time Indianapolis 500-winning chief mechanic and prolific car builder A.J. Watson died Monday morning at his home.

Watson, 90, had four "500" wins as chief mechanic (Bob Sweikert in 1955, Pat Flaherty, 1956, and Rodger Ward in both 1959 and 1962) and six as the winning constructor, in 1956, 1959 and 1962; plus 1960 (Jim Rathmann), 1963 (Parnelli Jones) and 1964 (A.J. Foyt).

A.J. Foyt drove and won with Watson-designed and built roadsters in the 60s. Eleven of his 67 victories came in either Watson or Watson-Trevis roadsters, including his first two Indy 500s (1961 and 1964). Foyt drove Watson's sprint car in 1960 winning the USAC Eastern Division title that year. Foyt continued to drive Watson's sprint car off and on through 1968, winning his final race for Watson at Ascot in Gardena, CA in 1967.

"I was very good friends with A.J. Watson and his wife Joyce," said Foyt. "He picked me up to drive his sprint car years back. We worked right there at his house, took the 220 Offy and built the Chevrolet. He was a pioneer. He came out against Kurtis and built the Watson roadster and I was lucky enough to win with it.

"In his day right here at the Indy 500, there was nobody that was going to beat the three W's: Watson, Wilke and Ward. It's hard to believe he's gone. I'm just glad I was able to go see him on his 90th birthday (May 8). We did talk about old times. He had a picture of me and him with his sprint car on the wall and I teased him, 'A.J. were we ever that young?' He said, 'It's hard to believe, isn't it?'"
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