By: Tanner Watkins
November 6, 2019 | 4:30 PM
After a highly-successful showing in iRacing Indianapolis 500 qualifications last May, Brazil’s sim racers have shown up with speed once again with two of their drivers leading the first two days of practice at the Open-Wheels.com 500 Mile Race presented by Mitchell Transmissions.
Following the completion of Tuesday’s 12-hour practice session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Silvio Roberto Sanchez was quickest with a best lap speed of 232.360mph. It marked the second consecutive practice where a Brazilian driver had the best lap of the day, following Marco Aurelio Brasil’s top effort on Opening Day.
In fact, four drivers from Brazil found their way into the top five positions by the end of practice (including Thales Toledo, Aurelio Brasil, and Wilson Neto), and the first American driver on the list was Zachary Campbell in sixth.
For Sanchez, securing Tuesday’s top speed further strengthened the country’s confidence in a positive showing for Qualifications Weekend presented by AG Trucking – held this Saturday and Sunday.
“(Tuesday practice) was a good workout; I improved by (two-tenths of a second) from the first day. My expectation for qualifying is the best possible (scenario), and as Marco Aurélio (Brasil) said, we are strong and we will probably be in the front row at the end of Saturday activities.”
Saturday will serve as Pole Day during the two-day qualifications weekend, and the $100 Pit Lane Parley Pole Award will be gifted to the quickest driver at the end of the first day of running. Final-hour coverage of both Pole Day on November 9 and Bump Day on November 10 will be provided by RaceSpot TV, beginning at 5:00 PM Eastern each day.
Sandwiched between the Brazilians in the top five was AJ Burton from the UK and Ireland club. The Indy 500 Group with Broken Aero/ART driver was second-quick on the day, but was keen to note that challenges persisted during practice that hampered testing efforts.
“It might be surprising to hear, but day two was a day of mixed emotions for me,” said Burton. “We were suffering from some technical issues for most of the day, which ultimately curtailed my efforts to do any meaningful running. Nonetheless, we were able to run a short race simulation and we definitely feel good with our race setup.”
While some attention was granted to race setup practice on Tuesday, the rest of the week (for Burton and his teammates, at least) will see the focus shift to qualifications practice.
“The rest of this week will be focused on refining our qualifying pace. I did attempt two runs today but with the track being well used by then, and the influence of both dirty air and draft from other cars on track, these speeds weren’t close to being representative of what we’ll see at the weekend.”
After all was said and done on Tuesday, 44 drivers made it on-track to complete a total of 2,600 laps. Yesterday’s practice also marked the first day that each of the available Dallara chassis (the IR-18, DW-12, and IR-05) were on-track and practicing together.
The first 25 spots on the leaderboard belonged to Dallara IR-18 pilots, while Frank Ferry Jr. was the first driver listed in a Dallara DW-12. Ferry, driving for ACME Racing, was 26th-quick with a best lap speed of 227.779mph. The fastest Dallara IR-05 entry in practice was driven by Robert Grosser, who was 41st in practice with a best lap of 222.047mph.
After two days of practice – and a combined 24 hours of Speedway availability – 53 drivers have made it on-track thus far. Marco Aurelio Brasil has the best overall lap – clocked at 233.669mph on Opening Day – while Wilson Neto has turned the most laps thus far with 542 circuits completed. Across both sessions, 5,206 laps have been completed.
Thursday will see day three of practice for the 2019 Open-Wheels.com 500 Mile Race presented by Mitchell Transmissions, featuring another 12 hours of track availability. Additionally, on Thursday evening the initial qualifications order will be drawn and revealed before the third airing of Today at the 500 presented by Thru Kaiser’s Visor.
Stay in tune with Thursday’s proceedings by watching the live practice cam beginning at 3:00 PM ET (twitch.tv/openwheels), following practice with timing and scoring (open-wheels.com/timing), and by listening to Thursday’s airing of Today at the 500 presented by Thru Kaiser’s Visor (open-wheels.com/today500).
Open-Wheels.com 500 Mile Race entrant (and SCCA Formula Atlantic National Champion) Flinn Lazier will join Thursday night’s program to talk about his prep for qualifications weekend, as well as his real-life racing plans. More guests are to be confirmed, so make sure to tune in at 8:00 PM Eastern on Thursday evening.
Stay dialed into Open-Wheels for continued coverage of the Open-Wheels.com 500 Mile Race, and make sure to tune in on Sunday, November 17 when the inaugural race goes green. The live, worldwide broadcast will be shown by RaceSpot TV with the pre-race show beginning at 11:15 AM Eastern.
Header image by Tanner Watkins/Open-Wheels.com.