IndyCar - Andretti Autosport Loudon Preview
LOUDON, Aug. 12, 2011: The Andretti Autosport drivers were excited to test Thursday on the lightning, fast New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Only Danica Patrick had actually competed on the tricky surface when she drove in a NASCAR Nationwide race here last year. But Marco Andretti's dad, Michael, had scored two second place finishes at the popular racing facility in the early 1990s with the CART Series.
So, rolling off the trailer Thursday morning, had the four Andretti Autosport drivers ready for action.
Immediately, Andretti, winner at Iowa in the IZOD IndyCar Series' last oval race, jumped to the top of the timing charts in his pretty new No. 26 All Natural Snapple machine. Marco paced the 26-driver field for most of the morning's practice session. The 24-year-old third-generation star is looking to move in the top-five in the current point standings with a strong Loudon performance. With the team attempting numerous chassis setups in the afternoon, Andretti finished the day in 11th spot with a speed of 167.965 miles per hour.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, coming off another podium finish last week at Mid-Ohio, worked consistently with his Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda crew and moved up the timing sheet throughout the afternoon. The Florida driver was as high as sixth late in the day and finished in ninth at 169.086 m.p.h.
Mike Conway, coming off a tough Mid-Ohio race when he passed 13 cars before a mechanical failure parked his machine, was enjoying his first trip to the New Hampshire oval in the No. 27 Team @FollowAndretti Honda/Dallara/Firestone mount. Conway clocked in the top-ten in the afternoon and finished the day in 13th at 167.234.
Patrick posted a top-five reading in the morning session in the No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com car as she trying the outside line of the track, much different from your pole line in a stock car last year. At the end of the day, Danica placed 17th at 166.525 m.p.h.
In a rare incidence, the IZOD IndyCar Series will not run on Friday at New Hampshire with the NASCAR series taking over the day. The Indy cars return to action Saturday with practice set for 9 a.m. EDT and qualifying at 3 p.m. EDT. The start of the MoveThatBlock.com 225 on Sunday will be at 4 p.m. EDT and will be televised live on ABC-TV.
MARCO ANDRETTI, #26 TEAM ALL NATURAL SNAPPLE CAR
Ended the first session in P2; finished the second practice in P11
"I think the track is going to be fun, we just have to get a handle on it. The Snapple car was fast this morning but we went the wrong way with some changes this afternoon and lost some speed. Overall I think we'll be competitive come Sunday."
MIKE CONWAY, #27 TEAM @FOLLOWANDRETTI CAR
Finished the practice sessions in P17 and P13
"It is not an easy track to drive. The seams in the track are difficult to negotiate. You really have to get your line right on entry into the corners. But I like it. It is fun. You have to lift in the corners a little. However, I think you will have to be close to flat on the throttle in qualifying. We struggled a little with understeer, but overall, I think we can get the car to where we like it."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, #28 TEAM DHL/SUN DROP CITRUS SODA CAR
Ended the second session in P9; finished the first session in P14
"This is a great market to race. We need to be in this market. I hope we get a good attendance on Sunday and establish this track as a solid place to come race year after year. It looks tough to pass on in practice, but in the race, there always seems to be a lane that opens up. Guys start to fall off and the lanes getting wider. I hope we can put on a good race and we can make it an annual event. I came here as a kid in 1995. I was 12 years old and it was so much fun to see how fast the Indy cars ran here. It was very exciting. I actually started race go-karts after that event. Maybe it was the thrill of the racing that I wanted to try it. I never thought I would get to the top level of the sport. You always dream of it but it isn't realistic. So coming here now and racing Indy cars on this track is great. It is beautiful around here and it is a great place to have a race. I really enjoy going to the tracks that are new. And we have been to a few this year. We'll have a few more coming up in the series too this year. It is fun to have to adapt to the new ones. I enjoy these short ovals and they are tricky. They can be good for you or they can bite you quickly."
DANICA PATRICK, #7 TEAM GoDaddy.com CAR
Ran the first practice in P10; ended the day in P17
"In the stock car, you run down on the bottom. But here in the Indy cars, you move up into the second lane where the banking is a little more significant. But, yeah, it is fast. There is going to be that lane down low, but it will be a challenge to make it stick. The exit of the corner on the bank falls off a bit and that makes the car get loose off the corner. On the road courses, you can walk and drive around a course before practice to get a feel for the circuit. However, on an oval, you drive an Indy car so much differently than you would a passenger car. It usually doesn't help you. I was able to look at Tony Kanaan's testing information from last year when he tested here. You see his throttle traces and that was helpful. It is so different when you jump from a permanent road circuit to an oval track to a street course. You just have to adapt to each form of the track and, of course, I am adapting to the cars too with stock cars and Indy cars. But that is my job, to be able to adapt to all tracks and cars. I don't think that it is that big of a deal."