- Associated Press - Friday, May 18, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - IndyCar drivers rarely speak in unison when it comes to big issues.

They all want to go faster.

After series officials gave the cars an extra boost in horsepower for practice Friday, some drivers made a concerted pitch, pleading to keep the power boost for the May 27 race.

“Honestly, for me, it was actually better, the car seems to be more comfortable and yeah, I would love to have this kind of boost for the race,” three-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves said. “Hopefully, they change their mind and we go for that.”

The plan was to give drivers the power boost for Friday’s practice and the qualifying sessions Saturday and Sunday.

That hasn’t changed as race organizers prepare to fill the top 24 spots in the 33-car Saturday. Drivers with the nine fastest four-lap qualifying averages will return to the track late in the afternoon for a 90-minute shootout with the winner taking the No. 1 starting spot. The remaining cars will qualify Sunday.

But the drop from 650-horsepower in last year’s car to what most believe is 600-horsepower now, substantially reduced the speeds in practice this week. IndyCar officials have not revealed the actual figure drivers have been using.

The fastest lap posted through Thursday was Marco Andretti’s 223.676. With the boost, 23 drivers surpassed that mark including Andretti whose lap of 227.540 was the fastest all week and some now believe it will at least take an average of 226 to win the pole.

Drivers have consistently said they believe the cars handle better than the old cars on Indy’s 2.5-mile oval, and they acknowledged that again Friday, even at faster speeds.

But there’s a reason IndyCar officials may not heed the advice.

“As a driver you always want more horsepower, more speed, it was actually a little more than I expected,” Canadian James Hinchcliffe said Friday. “This is an engine-manufacturer war era now. Back in the day, they had separate engines just for qualifying, so they’ve turned the boost up a little bit to get the most for qualifying, but there’s no way an engine’s going to last 500 miles at that limit.”

At the other end of the lineup are the Lotus cars, which have been substantially off the pace all week.

Rookie Jean Alesi, who made 201 career starts in Formula One, had a fast lap of 213.423 mph, ,more than 14 mph off Marco Andretti’s best lap of the day (227.540). Simona de Silvestro, the only other driver using a Lotus, was the slowest at 212.516.

Alesi said earlier this week he was worried the car would be a hazard to other drivers on the track and said he felt “unsafe.”

Penske driver Will Power concurred Friday.

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