Day five of practice for the Indianapolis 500 brought highs and lows for Josef Newgarden and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.
Newgarden topped the speed charts for the third time this month with a lap of 222.785 mph, but shortly after he posted that quick lap his momentum changed. The rear end of the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing/Dallara/Honda/Firestone car bobbled in Turn 4, did a quarter-spin and came to a rest after making mild contact with the pit lane retaining wall.
“Everyone’s trying to figure out the race car around this place and obviously I have a little more work to do,” Newgarden said. “We were old on our tire run trying to run as far as possible to see how the car reacts and I think it’s just difficult to run in the tow and today I got bit by it a little.”
At a track as unforgiving as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Newgarden and SFHR were fortunate to exit the incident with minor damage.
“You don’t get many lucky breaks around this place and I think I just got one,” Newgarden said. “The SFHR guys have done a great job putting together such a good Honda-powered car and I don’t want to hurt the thing. I’ll try to learn what happened and why it got around on me.”
Team co-owner Sarah Fisher is confident in her team’s ability to repair the No. 67 by the time practice resumes on Thursday.
“The car looks good, and there is very little damage,” Fisher said. “We’re really lucky that we have a couple kids who can save race cars as well as make them go fast.”
Newgarden’s teammate Bryan Clauson completed a solid day of race preparation with multiple long runs and pack racing.
“It’s such a different feel when you get the car in a pack,” Clauson said. “We’re going to focus on getting in heavy traffic over the next few days and continue to learn how to manage the car when it’s running by itself as well as when it’s in traffic.”
Clauson’s quickest lap of 221.031 mph notched in at seventh fastest overall.
Looking to the race, Clauson predicts that the drivers who manage to become the most comfortable with their cars in large packs will see the best results.
“The tow is so big here that speed behind other cars isn’t that difficult to find if you can keep the throttle in it,” Clauson said. “Finding balance as you pull out of the draft to pass is kind of like hitting a wall though, so it’s hard to complete a pass right now.”
Practice for the 2012 Indianapolis 500 resumes Thursday, May 16 from 12 – 6 p.m.