INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 16, 2012 – Simon Pagenaud led the two-car Sam Schmidt effort Wednesday during practice for the 96th Running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.

The Frenchman turned a lap of 40.9459 seconds at 219.802 mph in the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car. The lap was good enough for 17th on the Day 5 speed chart.

His teammate, Townsend Bell, produced a lap of 40.9605 seconds at 219.724 mph in the No. 99 BraunAbility/Schmidt Pelfrey Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car.

Rookie Josef Newgarden set the fast lap of the day stopping the clocks at 40.3977 seconds at 222.785 mph. Rounding out the top five on Tuesday’s speed chart were Marco Andretti (222.108 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (221.763 mph), James Hinchliffe (221.638 mph) and Dario Franchitti (221.623 mph).

A total of 30 drivers turned 1,632 laps during Wednesday’s six-hour practice session. In five days of practice, 31 drivers have produced 6,264 laps.

Practice resumes Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. ET.


Simon Pagenaud: “I think the gods of speed are helping me out this year because we are getting so much running since there is no rain. It’s great. We’re actually not running that much. In fact, I was so sad to get out of the car today. I was having so much fun. The track is not slippery when you get the car nicely dialed in. It’s not slippery, you just have to feel the air on the car and feel what the car is telling you through your butt. You really feel if you get under steer or over steer, and you really have to learn how to manage that from the car with the steering wheel and your foot. It’s a really fine line. You want to be neutral by yourself and safe in traffic. But traffic usually brings you understeer. So, it’s difficult to find the right balance. There is a lot more thinking and processing than on a road course.”

Townsend Bell: “I haven’t been two wide yet. We’re just trying to work our way up to it and use all of our experience the best we can. I was really happy with today. I had a lot of things we wanted to test, and we accomplished those today. We crossed a lot of things off our list, so I feel like we’re on top of things. The first two days, I felt like we were just catching up with the car being totally new for me and the engineers. I feel like we’re caught up now, and we can start applying everything we’ve learned to a more refined package moving forward.”

Rob Edwards, SSM General Manager: “We are exactly where we want to be. It’s challenging for all of us because we’re on a very different program from what we were on last year. In 2011, we were doing short runs and working on a lot of speed. This year, we’re working on longer runs and spending more time working on a race car with Simon. Townsend is on a similar program and that is really helping because we can try two things at one time to make sure we get the best package we can come race day.”