IndyCar drivers reset after Indianapolis 500

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After the 101st staging of the Indianapolis 500, those competing in the 2017 IndyCar series will have to do a lot of mental resetting for the first practice of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park, and then races both Sunday and Monday on that street course.

“Forgetting two weeks at Indy [500] and getting ready for Detroit is challenging,” said Charlie Kimball, driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 83 Tresiba Honda. “Memorial Day is hard because you’re still amped up. There’s the victory banquet Monday night and, if things go well in the 500, a whole bunch of media and a lot of other commitments.”

Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the No. Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevrolet, leads a group of cars during the 101st Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 28, in Indianapolis, Indiana. After a festive and stressful time preparing for the Indianapolis 500, IndyCar drivers start practice for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix in less than a week. AFP PHOTO

“You go from Indianapolis where you have 10 days to get it right and it’s two and a half miles and the Indy cars are stretching their legs, then to Belle Isle where it’s every bit of a street fight,” he added.

JR Hildebrand hoped to lay low in the three days after Monday’s Indianapolis 500 Victory Celebration, then shift his mind back into race mode.


“One way or the other, it’s a very stressful and pressure-packed month,” said Hildebrand, who drives the Ed Carpenter Racing No. 21 Chevrolet. “The stakes are so high at Indianapolis.”

Hildebrand welcomed a break between qualifying weekend and the race at Indy, despite days away from that track that were filled with media and sponsor commitments.

“Even though the travel can sometimes be crazy, it’s kind of nice because you get away from everything for a day and let your brain relax a little bit,” said Hildebrand. “That’s definitely a part of the plan after the 500. You get some rest when you can get it and then get dialed back in.”

Scott Dixon feels more for his Chip Ganassi Racing crew than himself because of the quick turnaround before Detroit.

“Win or lose, I prefer to have a race right after Indianapolis to put it behind you,” said Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Camping World Honda. “There’s a lot of stress and a lot of built-up emotions, and it’s nice to somewhat get back to a racetrack and a little more of reality.

“But it’s the crew guys who have it really tough. They’ve got to flip two cars over [to street-course setup]and go straight into a doubleheader, which is even worse. And to some degree, they’ve got to rebuild the cars between races, too.”

Dixon cherishes the media commitments after he won the 2008 Indianapolis 500, even though he remembers how tiring that time was.

“But it was amazing,” he said. “When you win that race, it changes your life in many ways. I got to do things I never would have been able to experience because of that. For two or three days you’re slammed, and then you’re actually thankful to get back to the racetrack.”

That’s where Conor Daly’s mind was the moment he got out of his AJ Foyt Enterprises No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet at Indianapolis.

“I always want to get back into the seat and get going again,” Daly said. “Even if the race goes well, you want to ride that momentum. Yes, the Indy 500 is awesome and I’m sure if I won it, I’d like to enjoy it more than just going straight to Detroit. But either way, I love Detroit in general. That’s always been a great race for me.”

THE TIMES

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