Daly dominates at Gateway but cut tires end test early

Conor Daly was sensationally fast and topped both morning and afternoon sessions today at Gateway Motorsports Park, but the action was halted early as the surface was cutting tires.

Daly dominates at Gateway but cut tires end test early
Conor Daly, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet
Conor Daly, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Jay Howard, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
Josef Newgarden, Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Jay Howard, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
Gateway Motorsports Park 500 logo

Daly’s AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet lapped the 1.25-mile oval in Madison, Ill. in just 25.4371sec to top the afternoon session with a fastest speed of 176.907mph.

Said Daly, “I like this place, I think it’s really fun. Turn 1 is super ‘road coursey.’ It’s a real fight getting into the center of it, and with the wind the way it is, it’s obviously a little sketchy on the exit of Turn 2, but man I like it.

“It’s a similar set-up to where we had it at Phoenix, and at Phoenix our car was fast. Mechanically we knew we had a good package, it’s just the that we didn’t get to qualify well because we had no information available on where to trim out.

Daly’s best was over 2.3mph clear of Helio Castroneves in the fastest of the five Team Penske-Chevrolets – Juan Pablo Montoya was testing too – which filled P2 through P5, with Will Power bringing up the rear in P7.

Power was separated from his teammates by the fastest Honda, that of Scott Dixon in the Chip Ganassi Racing #9, while Daly’s teammate Carlos Munoz and Ed Carpenter made it eight Chevys in the Top 10. Ninth fastest was Tony Kanaan in a second Ganassi-Honda, almost one second slower than Daly’s best.

Marco Andretti was top Andretti Autosport representative in 12th, although two of his teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Takuma Sato didn’t get to turn a lap before the final yellow and ultimately checkered flag due to cut tires.

Andretti Autosport team manager Rob Edwards told Motorsport.com: “Every time we sent a driver out, we’d have to stop him after six or seven laps and change the tires because they were cut.

“They don’t really know what’s causing the issue, otherwise they’d solve it. But I think where they’ve made some of the repairs, it’s left a sharp edge.

“And I think this place has always moved a lot, so when they think they’ve found what the problem is, something else pops up. I don’t think any of us can verify and say, ‘This is the issue,’ but there’s just a general concern with the track surface condition."

IndyCar and Gateway Motorsports Park issued a joint statement regarding the early conclusion. It read:

"Gateway Motorsports Park and INDYCAR overcame tremendous challenges to conduct a successful series open test session today, despite 9.5 inches of rain in the two days leading up to the event. Officials worked tirelessly to prepare the racing surface, which included drilling holes to relieve pressure of ground water and additional proactive measures. 

"During the course of today's practices, conditions developed that made it necessary to stop the test early, within an hour of the scheduled end time. The conditions will be promptly addressed by IndyCar and Gateway officials, and all are confident of a successful resolution when the series returns to the track."

Hildebrand did not take part in the afternoon session after shunting in the morning session.

Jay Howard, who will race a third Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car at the Indy 500, used James Hinchcliffe's car to refamiliarize himself with an IndyCar. Howard raced in the 2008, ’10 and ’11 Indy 500s. The 36-year-old Briton's last IndyCar start was the ill-fated 2011 finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which was canceled after the huge shunt in which Dan Wheldon lost his life.

Driver                                   Team                                                 Speed       Total laps

1. Conor Daly                    AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet                  176.907      67
2. Helio Castroneves       Team Penske-Chevrolet                    174.559      78
3. Juan Montoya              Team Penske-Chevrolet                    174.339      55
4. Josef Newgarden         Team Penske-Chevrolet                   174.329       52
5. Simon Pagenaud         Team Penske-Chevrolet                   172.716       61
6. Scott Dixon                   Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda            172.130       24
7. Will Power                     Team Penske-Chevrolet                   171.920       52
8. Carlos Munoz               AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet                 17.432         43
9. Tony Kanaan                Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda            170.260       25
10. Ed Carpenter              Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet      170.125       52
11. Mikhail Aleshin          Schmidt Peterson-Honda                169.816       46
12. Sebastien Bourdais  Dale Coyne Racing-Honda               168.988        45
13. Marco Andretti          Andretti Autosport-Honda              168.876        43
14. JR Hildebrand            Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet      168.598        22
15. Alexander Rossi        Andretti-Herta Autosport-Honda   168.410        30
16. James Hinchcliffe      Schmidt Peterson-Honda                 168.396        24
17. Max Chilton               Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda             168.151        50
18. Ed Jones                     Dale Coyne Racing-Honda                 167.902        48
19. Charlie Kimball          Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda             166.787        30
20. Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti Autosport-Honda               165.531        15
21. Takuma Sato              Andretti Autosport-Honda               164.465         11

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