INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 17, 2012 –After the teams and drivers have been practicing diligently for six straight days at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, they will all be trying to hit curve balls when practice resumes Friday for the 2012 Indianapolis 500.

Friday at IMS is the day before Indy 500 qualifying and has come to be known as Fast Friday over the years, and it could be one of the fastest Friday’s in recent history at 16th and Georgetown. IZOD IndyCar Series officials are allowing engine manufacturers Honda, Lotus and Chevrolet to provide more boost to the turbochargers in each engine.

This means the drivers and teams will be trying to hit curve balls on race set-ups after hitting straight fast balls the past six days.

Ben Bretzman, the lead engineer on Simon Pagenaud’s No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car, said that he is relying on input from Honda and computer simulations to prepare the car for the increased horsepower that will come with the increased turbo boost.

“The biggest thing honestly will be gearing,” said Bretzman. “We’re going to go quite a bit faster, so we’re going to need to make sure we have the gears right. Unfortunately, we’re not going to have a lot of running on it. It’s up to simulations and what information Honda can give us on how fast they think we might go based on just general power. We have to gear the car correctly for that.”

Bretzman believes that the increase horsepower will affect the car setup, but it is still an unknown to what extent.

“From a chassis standpoint, it’s a bit of an unknown,” Bretzman said. “It will get a little bit more load in the corner because you’ll be going faster, so you might need to adjust the platform. But in general, we’ll just need to make sure we are geared right.”

In preparation for qualifying on Saturday, the HP crew spent Thursday tearing down and rebuilding the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports car. Pagenaud did not participate in the six-hour practice session.

His teammate, Townsend Bell, did practice Thursday. He produced a lap of 41.1846 seconds at 218.528 mph in the No. 99 BraunAbility/Schmidt Pelfrey Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car.

Scott Dixon set the fast lap of the day stopping the clocks at 40.3428 seconds at 223.088 mph. Rounding out the top five on Tuesday’s speed chart were Josef Garden (222.709 mph), Graham Rahal (222.080 mph), Will Power (221.932 mph) and Justin Wilson (221.715 mph).

A total of 29 drivers turned 1,391 laps during Thursday’s six-hour practice session. Practice resumes Friday from noon to 6 p.m. ET.

Notes and Quotes

Townsend Bell
With the increase in boost for tomorrow (Friday) and qualifying, do you think you are going out tomorrow and trying to hit a curve ball? “Well, we expect it to be faster, and we’ll be disappointed if its not. Other than that, I think the engineers have a reasonable projection on what to expect and I’m optimistic that we’re sitting well placed to handle it.”

You have been a proponent of IndyCars being faster, so you are a proponent of the increased boost tomorrow and for qualifying? “The chance to go qualify as fast as you think the car can go at Indianapolis is what it’s all about. I don’t think we’ll be flirting with any track records just yet, but I think it’s a step in the right direction. Speed is what our sport is all about.”

Rob Edwards, SSM General Manager
On why the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports car did not run today: “With the increase in boost tomorrow, it was less important to run today. We would have liked to had shaken the No. 77 car down this afternoon, but the most important thing for us today was re-building and prepping the car for qualifying with some things we needed to change out. The benefit of the good weather this week is that we’ve been able to put a lot of good miles on both the car and Simon. So today was really all about preparing ourselves for the weekend of qualifying.”