INDIANAPOLIS, IN - Sebastian Saavedra pulled on his helmet and stepped into the No. 17 KV AFS Racing car May 13 just like he had dozens of times. He logged only seven laps in the red and yellow car before Tuesday's practice for the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 was curtailed by rain, but the practice time was significant.
Saavedra joined 29 other drivers who totaled 1,024 miles without incident. Thirty-one drivers have registered 4,041.
E.J. Viso, filling in for James Hinchcliffe in the No. 27 United Fiber & Data car for the third consecutive day, topped the speed chart at 224.488 mph (40.0912 seconds). Andretti Autosport teammate Kurt Busch, seeking to contest both the Indianapolis 500 and stock car race in Concord, N.C., on May 25, posted his fastest lap of the month (224.159 mph) in the No. 26 Suretone car.
Juan Pablo Montoya (224.115) was third in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske car, while Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay (223.612) and Marco Andretti (223.605) also were in the top five. Hunter-Reay, runner-up in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 10, has the top lap speed of the month at 225.025 mph.
Saavedra, the pole sitter for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, who was uninjured after being involved in a multi-car incident on the standing start of the 82-lap race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, made his debut on the 2.5-mile oval during practice for the Indianapolis 500.
"It was good mentally for him and the whole team," said two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser, Jr., who is serving as the driver coach for the four-car KV Racing Technology stable this month. "The crew on this team has done a fantastic job getting the car together. They started (May 11, Opening Day of Indy 500 practice) with the car down to the tub and built from there. It was a great achievement and important for Sebastian to get out there in."
Saavedra, who qualified for his first Indy 500 in 2010 at age 19, said he's "back in business."
"It feels like somebody has given me a kidney punch and I'm stiff but OK," said Saavedra, of Colombia. "I just wanted to get out there. Kudos to all my boys who had a couple of long days to put it together. She's looking amazing.
"I'm not concerned with the laps really as long as we maintain the program we have we should be good. A.J. Foyt says there's plenty of time, breathe it, enjoy it."