SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 11, 2014) -- Team Penske got off to a fast start on Sunday afternoon by posting the three fastest laps as practice began for the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500.
Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Will Power led the way by recording the fastest lap of the 23 cars that practiced on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval - 40.3485 seconds (223.057 mph) - in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. Power is looking to score his first Indianapolis 500 win after finding his way to Victory Lane in the series’ last 500-mile race at Auto Club Speedway last October.
“Apart from the speed, it's great to be at the top of the speed charts with the No. 12 Verizon Chevy,” stated Power. “The car felt really good, too, today and we got to do quite a few laps, try to get the mileage up. You know, just anticipating that it might be wet the next couple of days. It's only practice, the first day, but always handy to be at the top.”
Juan Pablo Montoya, who is preparing for his first Indy 500 since he won the race in 2000, posted the second-fastest lap – 40.4490 (222.502 mph) – in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet.
“I felt really comfortable in the Verizon Chevy today,” said Montoya. “I did a lot of running by myself and then I ran behind someone just to start getting used to the feel of that; the understeer and how the car feels in traffic. Right now we just want to get comfortable in the car. The first time I was here it took me about three laps to get comfortable. This time it was a few more. One of the great things about being with Team Penske is our cars are so good.”?
Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves had the third-fastest lap – 40.4726 (223.037 mph) -- in the No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. Castroneves is trying to become the fourth member of the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner’s club.
“Very happy the weather cooperated with us today,” said Castroneves. “The Pennzoil Chevrolet was really quick today. I’m really glad we were able to do so on the first day of Indianapolis 500 practice. That always puts the boss (Roger Penske) in a good mood. I love this month and it feels good to have speed right out of the box. Things are looking good.”
Team Penske took full advantage of the opening day of practice for the May 25 race, with Castroneves, debuting the famed all-yellow Pennzoil car, turning 83 laps track, more than any other driver who practiced Sunday. Power circled the track 82 times.
“It was just weird waking up the day after a race and having to get straight back into the car and on a different style of track,” continued Power. “But you know, as soon as...I got into it today – I just felt normal again, back to focusing on the 500 and getting the most out of the car.”
Practice resumes Monday at 12:00 pm ET and continues throughout the week. The new two-day Indianapolis 500 pole qualifying format will begin on Saturday, May 17.