INDIANAPOLIS — Kyle Kirkwood was only 25th on the speed charts for the opening practice session for next Sunday’s 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network). However, that didn’t have him worried about his aspirations of winning the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Kirkwood says that his car was good on it’s own as well in the middle of a pack.
“It was a strong first day I think from us as a team and general I felt like I was one of the few cars that can make a pass in the middle of the pack and in lead fine,” Kirkwood told me on Thursday morning in the shadows of the victory podium. “So we spent a lot of our time got it in that top five range. I couldn’t be happier with the car I was I was ready to wrap her up and put it inside the trailer pull her out for race day.”
That’s a scary assessment on just Day 1. And Kirkwood would know. While he is in just his second season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, he’s already won a race this year on the streets of Long Beach. He’s also the all-time winingest driver in the Road to Indy program too.
To be in an Andretti car and to feel this good about the first day of practice, that to me should send a message over to Gasoline Alley that Kirkwood is ready to play.
“I mean that traffic that’s the that’s the whole reason that you get into traffic, right because you can see what other people are doing to an extent and understand what you need to excel on with your car,” he told me about learning on what other teams are doing in traffic. “And it’s also good to work with teammates, because you know that they have some differences and that they’re trying to tune in on something here like where did that help them because it’s almost easier to see how someone else’s car is reacting compared to yours than it is when you’re actually in the seat.
“So that’s the whole point that we all run together and we all get as many labs together as possible because we all know that we’re on different setups and we know where each other thrive and where we don’t.”
On Day 2, he was even better. They didn’t make many laps for the first half of the day on Thursday, but when they did, they tried out a qualifying sim and went to sixth on the board when doing so. He fell to ninth in Happy Hour.
On Fast Friday, Kirkwood was quick again chiming in ninth on the four-lap average chart and with a chance at the pole this weekend.