Updated: Thursday, 20 May 2010, 12:19 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 19 May 2010, 6:33 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Racing teams spend endless hours testing and tinkering to make each ride as perfect as possible for qualifying weekend and race day. Unfortunately, one of the biggest factors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway also happens to be the one they have the least control over -- the weather.
"It's tough," said Graham Rahal who will drive for his famous father in this year's Indianapolis 500. "We need to run as much as we can, learn as much as we can but (the weather) is so different than what we'll see in a couple days’ time."
Wednesday's track conditions were close to ideal, 70 degrees and relatively calm winds.
But for the upcoming qualifying weekend, temperatures are supposed to spike into the 80s or 90s. That translates to less grip and, ultimately, slower lap times.
“It's going to be different for us for sure when it becomes sunny and warm, there's not doubt about it,” said veteran driver Davey Hamilton. “We have less grip and the track is a little bit slicker, less horsepower as well.”
“Absolutely the car will run differently,” said 2007 Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti. “We think Thursday will be the closest weather conditions to qualifying. We don't really know what it's going to do race day yet. So, we're going to have to mix in some race runs, some qualifying runs in the next two or three days and just get a bunch of knowledge.”
Even with a bunch of knowledge, there will inevitably be a lot of guesswork that goes into this year's pole day preparation. One thing is certain, every team will be at the mercy of Mother Nature.
“On qualifying day, if the sun is out the car is going to feel completely different,” said rookie driver Simona de Silvestro. “But it's going to be the same for everybody. Maybe we'll go out and qualify and find out that our car is really good in the sun, who knows?”
“You have to kind of play around and tinker,” said Hamilton. “Just because something didn't work last week doesn't mean it's not going to work this week. But that's why we're here.”
It's why the drivers are out working now and why their fans will pack the stands this weekend.
Qualifying starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 22.
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