PANTHER TEAMATES STAY FAST ON FRIDAY AS HILDEBRAND, BELL READY FOR POLE DAY
Rain-Shortened Fast Friday at IMS Throws Curveball into Pole Day Preparations, Panther Still Quick
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (May 17, 2013) – Fast Friday practice for the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500 turned soggy this afternoon with thunderstorms drenching the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but not before Panther Racing drivers JR Hildebrand and Townsend Bell were able to lay down some fast laps on the 2.5-mile track.
With Pole Day qualifying just hours away, qualification simulation dictated the team’s run plan for the day and the Panther Pack did not disappoint. Piloting the No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet, JR Hildebrand was fifth fastest of all IndyCar Series drivers with a best lap of 227.549 mph, 39.5519 seconds.
“We had a pretty good day in the National Guard Chevy. We’d still like to find some more speed in our car, but overall we feel pretty confident that the cars are quick. Frankly I’m disappointed that all the cars aren’t going faster, but it’s nice to see the speeds increase for the weekend. But we’re excited about Pole Day tomorrow and we’ll see where we stand.”
Hildebrand, who completed just 12 laps today, will look to complete four of his best laps in succession tomorrow as he attempts to qualify for his third Greatest Spectacle in Racing. He will be 31st in line to qualify when official qualification attempts begin at 11:00 a.m.
The No. 60 Sunoco “Turbo” Chevy with Bell behind the wheel turned in the eighth fastest lap of the day at 227.160 mph, 39.6196 seconds. Bell beat the rain put in his fastest time on his 15th and final lap of practice.
"It was another good day for the Panther team,” Bell said. “The balance is good on the car and we got to do some qualifying simulation run there right at the end before the rain came. We raced out there and just barely made it, but we did it and we're really happy with things. The No. 60 Sunoco ‘Turbo’ car just feels great and I'm excited to go qualify tomorrow."
Bell will attempt to qualify for his seventh Indy 500 tomorrow, drawing the 16th spot to take to the track. Track action resumes tomorrow for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 from 12:00 pm until 6 p.m.
Pole Day qualifications are scheduled for Saturday, May 18th. The 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race will be held on Sunday, May 26th and broadcast live on ABC starting at 12 pm (ET) with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM/Sirius Channel 211. Practice, qualifying and race coverage is also available on the IndyCar Mobile app from Verizon.
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