By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
INDIANAPOLIS– Robert Wickens was turning his fourth practice lap on Monday’s post-qualifying practice session in preparation for the Indianapolis 500, but never made it around to the start finish line.
The No. 6 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda got loose coming through Turn 2 asWickens chased the car up the track before making light contact with the right side of the car. However, the damage was done.
The Canadian’s suspension was broken and the car then hit the wall on the backstretch, coming to a stop at the entrance of the warmup lane before Turn 3.
Wickens thought he had saved the car after the first bit of oversteer.
“I just got some oversteer in (Turn) 2 really late in the corner,” said Wickens. “Actually I was able to catch it and then I thought I got away with a big save and then it actually oversteered again and I caught it again, then just ran out of track, brushed the wall.
“I guess the suspension on the right hand side was damaged and I was already on the brakes trying to slow down and the car just kind of violently went drivers’ right into the wall again. So yeah, I don’t know, it caught me off guard, I wasn’t expecting the oversteer, we haven’t really had that sort of balance all week, especially in race trim.
Team co-owner Sam Schmidt’s assessed his thoughts on the incident.
“I saw a couple of replays, looked like he got loose in the middle of two,” said Schmidt. “Don’t know if we had a low tire until we download all of the telemetry off the car but certainly a setback, all the momentum from the whole season was building and he’s having a hell of a season so far. So, I guess on one hand you’d rather it happen today than race day but hopefully it’s nothing too major.”
This has not been an easy last few days for Schmidt. His other primary driver, James Hinchcliffe, was bumped from the Indianapolis 500 starting field on Satuday. With the 500 being a double points race, Hinchcliffe will be hurting in the championship standings since he currently is in fifth position.
For his part, Wickens was reflective on his own misfortune.
“It sucks for the guys, they have a lot of work ahead of them now and today was an important day for us to build a good race car and instead I gave it a lot of damage, so (I’m) pretty disappointed.”
Wickens’s fastest lap of the day was 222.325 mph. His fastest lap of the month was a 231.732 mph on Fast Friday with the increased boost that all competitors had.