INDIANAPOLIS – Monday’s Verizon IndyCar Series test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was just that, a test. So, while speeds are what everyone gravitates to, it’s not the end all be all. See, all 21 driver and team combinations had varying strategies and check lists that they were hoping to accomplish in the seven hour test session on Monday. Some went towards the top of the speed charts quicker than others.
The ones who won the day weren’t the ones sitting with the most speed but rather the ones who got through all their boxes that they wanted to check.
On the combined speed chart, you’ll surprisingly see both Schmidt Peterson Motorsports drivers on the bottom. Despite that, they’re not concerned with what seemed like a lack of speed. The reason?
They weren’t going for speed on Monday.
Solid first day in the Arrow Electronics car,” said James Hinchcliffe, who turned the 20th fastest lap out of 21 at 221.666 mph in his No. 5 Honda. “Obviously, we still have a lot to learn with this new car, and we have many days left to try and figure it out. We had a test plan where we had some big-ticket items that we wanted to knock off; we weren’t necessarily going for outright speed today. We got those items ticked off, so a pretty smooth day for us, and I’m happy with how we’ve started.”
Hinchcliffe, has had a solid start to the 2018 season and is working with a completely different engineering department and a totally new car than years prior. That’s why today’s test was more of them getting used to each other on a superspeedway than just showing up and swinging for the fences.
Same could be said for his teammate Jack Harvey. He’s made just one past Indy 500 start before. With him being in the same boat as Hinchcliffe, they had to check boxes off first before trying to roll out speed.
“A lot has happened since I was here last year when I met Michael (Shank) and now we are back this year with Meyer Shank Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports,” said Harvey who turned a speed of 220.589 mph in his No. 60 Honda. “It’s a brand new car from what we raced last year and honestly today we just wanted to dot the “i”s and cross the “t”s. But we had a really great day. The time sheet didn’t reflect how well I felt that we were doing but we all finished the day feeling confident in what we learned. There’s something special here for me – I won the Freedom 100, it’s the home of racing in America, I live in Indy. But really this is where Michael and I started our adventure and our relationship. I am just super excited for May because it brings back all sorts of emotions.”
So, don’t automatically discredit the SPM boys as drivers who won’t contend for the Month of May. Monday was a really good day for them.