Race prep trumps qualifying in Indy 500 practice

Indy 500

Meyer Shank Racing driver Jack Harvey pilots the No. 60 car around the IMS oval (Courtesy: IndyCar – May 19, 2021)

INDIANAPOIS – The first IndyCar competition on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval this month will be a race for the pole, Saturday and Sunday through qualifying and Pole Day. Through the first two days of Indianapolis 500 practice though, it’s the race setup, not qualifying, on most drivers’ minds.

“We’re just really focused on traffic running right now,” explains Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren SP, “trying to find the best that we can for the race. We all know that we need a good qualifying car, but we need an ever better race car to be able to win this race.”

“We’re trying to get a few Q (qualifying) sims in just to try to get a base understanding of what our car is, what our car speed looks like,” adds Jack Harvey of Meyer Shank Racing. “Mostly, today, tomorrow, it’s gonna be a lot of race car stuff. Friday, it’s gonna be wholly, solely on qualifying, then Sunday afternoon, we’ll be back to the race car.”

Establishing a strong base of knowledge on the car is crucial for teams hoping to compete on race day.

“The car was really good to start with,” says Felix Rosenqvist, O’Ward’s teammate at AMSP. “That’s the main thing here: When you come here, you just want to roll out with a good balance, and I think all three of us (on the team) had a good starting package.”

“That’s what we’ve been working on,” continues O’Ward. “I was pretty happy yesterday. We made a few changes, and I think we found the right direction to where I wanted to go.”

IndyCar drivers get four full days of practice, Tuesday through Friday, before qualifying begins on Saturday. One final practice day is set for next Friday, May 28, before the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday May 30.

“It’s so easy to get out of the window here with such small margins,” adds Rosenqvist. “That’s why we’re here now, just to learn these couple of days in traffic what the car is like. Soon, we’ll start focusing more on qualifying. I feel in general, our car is fast, so I’m really excited about next week.”

“There’s so much to get done in a short time,” says Harvey. “The guys at Meyer Shank Racing have done really well I think with that.”

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