5.14.13 – Day four of open practice for the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500 showed well for Andretti Autosport, which saw all five of its drivers set a lap in the top eight. James Hinchcliffe was fastest, followed by Marco Andretti third, Ryan Hunter-Reay fifth, E.J. Viso sixth and Carlos Muñoz eighth.
During the afternoon, James and Marco switched rides where the mayor of Hinchtown ran a lap at 224.210mph, and Marco set a fast lap of 221.972 — good for 11th quick. "It's good to be up there," said Hinchcliffe, whose best lap in the No. 27 GoDaddy car was at 221. 781mph, "but at the end of the day, those numbers don't mean a lot right now." Hinch noted that the team still has work to do to make sure the GoDaddy car is strong in race trim.
Just slightly behind the Mayor of Hinchtown on the speed charts was Marco Andretti, who brought his No. 25 RC Cola Chevy up to third fastest on the day with a lap of 223.570mph. “I think today went well," said Andretti after getting out of the car. "I’m quite pleased with how things are going for us so far. Working with the car in the heat of the day can be challenging, but we made a lot of progress to get where we are." Keeping an eye on the weekend, it was evident that a front row starting spot is on his mind. "Everyone is getting faster out there, so I have to stay on my toes to stay ahead of the curve. Everyday I’m excited to get in the car and get to work — Pole Day is coming up and we need to be ready.” During yesterday’s practice, the third-generation driver managed to post the fastest speed of the month thus far after zipping around the 2.5-mile course at 225.100mph.
Rounding out the top five on Tuesday was 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series Champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, who set a fast time of 223.332mph in his No. 1 DHL machine. "It’s certainly getting interesting now with the heat and the wind. Conditions are changing every day so it’s keeping the team on our toes, and we’re just trying a lot of different settings now." The wind picked up on Tuesday to compliment a 15-degree increase in temperature. RHR was pleased with a strong result today, but looks to improve upon that as the week progresses. "We have five cars so we have a lot of options and, I think, as we work through the week we’ll work ourselves into a good car. But it’s a work in progress."
E.J. Viso ran the most laps out of anyone today, making 134 trips around the circuit in his No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA CITGO Chevy, and wound up eighth overall with a speed of 223.138mph. "It was a very good, productive day. We went through some tests…in which we found some good answers. Today was a little bit hotter than the other days, and the weather predictions say that race day is going to be even a bit hotter than today. So I think the running that we did today was pretty productive to gather some data." This will be E.J.'s sixth 500, his first with Andretti Autosport. The Venezuelan's best finish at Indianapolis was 18th in last year's event.
Carlos Muñoz continued to show well today for Andretti, posting a fast lap of 223.110mph, eighth fastest overall, and fastest among rookies. "It was another good day of practicing a few different race simulations," said Carlos, "I'm feeling more and more comfortable with the No. 26 Unistraw Chevy, and I think our team is doing a good job, but we need to take it day-by-day. Each time I go out on-track I'm gaining more confidence, especially on the race runs with my teammates and other drivers." Carlos finished second in last year's Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100, and has won the last two events at Barber Motorsports Park and on the streets of Long Beach.
Team owner Michael Andretti had nothing but good things to say about the Colombian. "He’s been doing a great job; he’s on pace and one of our quickest cars every day. He’s put in a lot of good miles, and it’s been a lot of good experience." He also is pleased with the team's overall performance after four days, but knows everyone needs to keep looking to improve, "I think they’re going pretty good, but we still have a lot of work to do. I don’t think any of them are exactly where we want them to be, but I’m not sure a lot of people can say that yet, so overall we’re pretty happy."
Pole Day is Saturday, May 18, and the first car will go on track at 11 a.m. NBC Sports Network will broadcast all the action from 11a.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET, and will pick back up from 4:30-6:30p.m. ET. Of course, the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be Sunday, May 26th, with coverage from ABC starting at 11 a.m. Eastern. As always, you can follow our Twitter feed (@FollowAndretti) for everything Andretti Autosport - from track speeds to behind the scenes stories and photos.