The Indianapolis 500 is different than any other race on the IndyCar calendar in many ways, and one of the biggest differences is the amount of preparation time given to the teams.
Instead of about three hours of total practice time allowed for a given weekend, drivers are allowed to take the track for roughly 32 hours across eight separate days leading up to the race.
That amount of build up to a single event puts strain on the drivers and teams alike, which have to treat the two weeks as an endurance event rather than a sprint.
The series’ rookies, including Andretti Autosport’s Devlin DeFrancesco, have to figure out the mental balance required to compete at a high level for such a long continuous time.
“It’s definitely more mental than physical here, for sure,” said DeFrancesco. “Getting a few loose moments out of turns two and four is a bit sketchy at 230 MPH.
“I kept getting told ‘Patience is critical here.’ And I can really see why. Being able to run through a bunch of changes and focus on the race car, and now looking towards qualifying sims later this week, and being able to maximize both cars we have.
“It’s my first event, so I’m just constantly learning and taking things in, learning things each time I get out and every time we run. That’s really what I’m focusing on.”
DeFrancesco put in 98 laps, nearly half of a race distance in the first day of practice alone, and has many more laps ahead of him before the race itself on May 29.
The Canadian-Italian is thoroughly enjoying the new experience, however, and is not bothered by the on-the-edge driving required around the 2.5-mile oval.
“I lot of the Europeans that I talk to, they seem almost worried of the ovals. But I love oval racing. I think it’s awesome!
“When it snaps on you at 230, I’ll tell you it’s scary. But it’s enjoyable. You just gather it back up and get going.”