INDIANAPOLIS, IN - Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves topped the fifth day of preparations for the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 with a lap 227.166 mph (39.6186 seconds), the fastest of the month.
"We will keep working," said Castroneves. "The weather dropped a lot today, but right now the car is handling really well. Certainly the draft counts a lot here and I feel very confident in the Pennzoil No. 3 machine, so right now we will keep going and keep working. Right now the conditions are really, really good. It has cooled down, which means that it is good for the tires, it's good for the engine, and downforce as well, so we don't know what is going to happen tomorrow. They are calling for rain, but right now we are looking quite happy."
Thirty-three drivers, including the debut this month of first-year participant James Davison and 1996 winner Buddy Lazier, logged 2,516 laps. James Hinchcliffe, who was diagnosed with a concussion resulting from an incident during the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 10, was cleared by INDYCAR to resume driving. The No. 27 United Fiber & Data car underwent a mid-afternoon engine change, which limited Hinchcliffe to one installation lap late in the session.
Four different teams were represented in the top five as drivers and teams began ramping up for "Fast Friday," when lap speeds are expected to as engine boost levels are increased for all competitors.
Ed Carpenter, the 2013 Indy 500 pole sitter, was second (226.257 mph) in the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka car, while Verizon IndyCar Series championship points leader Will Power was third (225.899 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car. Davison's KV Racing Technology teammate, Townsend Bell, was fourth (225.484) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (225.340) was fifth in the No. 28 DHL car for Andretti Autosport.
Castroneves' bright yellow No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Team Penske car is one of many that has or will receive fresh Chevrolet or Honda engines for May 17-18 qualifications, which will be televised by ABC. The race is May 25. Full-season Verizon IndyCar Series entries are allotted four 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engines to cover the 18-race season, with a threshold of 2,500 miles between changes.
Davison, who competed in two Verizon IndyCar Series races last year, completed two of the three phases of the formal Indy 500 Rookie Orientation Program in the No. 33 KV Racing Technology entry. Lazier, driving the No. 91 Lazier Partners Racing car, registered 11 laps (best of 218.277 mph.)
WDUN will have live coverage of the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25 on 102.9 FM and 550 AM.