From Amy Konrath
The winners of the last three Indianapolis 500s topped the speed charts as preparations for the 2010 race continued May 16 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, the 2009 winner, set the fastest lap of practice this month with a lap of 39.6395 seconds , 227.046 mph in his No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone. 2008 winner Scott Dixon was second fastest at 39.7875, 226.202 with his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate and 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti third at 39.8152, 226.044.
The seven rookie drivers who hope to compete in the 2010 Indianapolis 500 – Bertrand Baguette, Ana Beatriz, Simona De Silvestro, Jay Howard, Mario Romancini, Sebastian Saavedra and Takuma Sato – completed the four phases of the Rookie Orientation Program,
The day also brought the first contact of the month of May when 2005 Indianapolis 500 Dan Wheldon hit the outside retaining wall at the exit of Turn 4. Wheldon sustained a bruised foot in the crash, but expected to be back in the car May 17.
DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:
Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe talked Saturday about the condensed schedule and Team Penske’s chances in the 2010 Indianapolis 500.
RYAN BRISCOE: (About schedule): “It’s about the same amount of running time. I think we’re about six or eight hours shorter than we’ve had in the past. Track time is about the same, but it’s a bit busier and a little more intense. There is a little more strategy involved with getting qualifying and race setup all in one week. Now we squeeze it in to one week and almost do a reverse. We’ll get ready for the race first and then later in the week we’ll really focus on qualifying and get ready for Pole Day next Saturday. I really like the fact that all of the drivers are out here on Opening Day. It’s exciting for the fans that the first cars to hit the track are guys like Helio, Franchitti, Dixon and others who have won the race before. I think it is more incentive for the fans to come out and see the pros.” (On running well in last year’s Indy 500): “Last year was really good for me, but I was a bit unlucky in the race and we fell back. We had to make an extra stop early in the race. So, it was a bit unlucky, but I feel really good. The team, obviously, is the class of the field here at Indianapolis. It’s going to be tough. I’m sure Ganassi is going to be strong, as well. We’re going to be right there. Hopefully, we’ll get it right on Race Day.”
Justin Penix, winner of the 2010 Purdue Grand Prix kart race, was the honorary starter today. Penix, from Indianapolis, is a junior at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) majoring in mechanical engineering technology.
JUSTIN PENIX: “It’s an amazing feeling. I never thought I’d be able to do this. It will be interesting to see what it’s like when the cars go by at over 200 mph.” (On winning the Purdue University Grand Prix with his team from IUPUI): “I’m fortunate enough to be the president of the Motorsports Club at IUPUI. The club is for students to get involved and to get more hands-on experience with racing. We fielded two cars in the Purdue Grand Prix, and it was a lot of fun for everyone to get involved and get their hands dirty. We’ve ran the race for over 10 years now. We won it in 2008 and this year.” (On working with Sarah Fisher Racing and having a brother employed at the IRL): “I’m helping Sarah Fisher throughout this month and the summer, as well. I’ll be on Jay Howard’s car. I’ll be doing whatever they need. Hopefully I’ll get some engineering work because that’s what I want to do after I graduate. I want to be involved with a race team. And it always helps to have a brother involved here at the track and to help you out along the way.”
Seven drivers must complete the Rookie Orientation: #5 Takuma Sato (KV Racing Technology), #25 Ana Beatriz (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing), #29 Sebastian Saavedra (Bryan Herta Autosport), #34 Mario Romancini (Conquest Racing), #36 Bertrand Baguette (Conquest Racing), #66 Jay Howard (Sarah Fisher Racing), #78 Simona de Silvestro (HVM Racing).
The rookie drivers must complete four phases of ROP in order to be eligible for the Indianapolis 500. At least three of the phases must be completed during ROP today. The fourth phase may be completed during practice later in the month.
The four phases of ROP include 10 laps at each of the following speeds:
On Indianapolis Star Opening Day, #25 Beatriz, #78 De Silvestro and #5 Sato completed the first two phases of ROP. #29 Saavedra completed the first phase.
Popular veteran Sarah Fisher will attempt to make her ninth Indianapolis 500 start this year, driving the No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing entry. Her car has a unique story behind it.
SARAH FISHER: “I’ve nicknamed my car Old Faithful. It’s an ’03 car that I raced here in’08 and ’09. She’s a solid car; it’s dependable and repeatable. We don’t have a nickname for Jay Howard’s car (No. 67) yet. He has one of two ’09 Dallaras.” (About her role as an owner-driver): “It’s a different role for me to have another driver with us here on the plate. It really helped us, being able to race at Kansas before we came here. We have spent a lot of time getting our race cars ready for the oval. I’m glad I’m sitting here so I can see our car on the track on the large screen (behind the Pagoda). I’m definitely keeping a balance as a car owner and driver. I’m 100 percent involved in his car as an owner and as a driver in my car. This is a team effort.”
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing co-owner Dennis Reinbold talked today about being one of the senior team owners in Gasoline Alley at the 2010 Indinaapolis 500 and in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Dreyer & Reinbold started racing in the series in 2000. Indianapolis 500 veteran Robbie Buhl is the team’s other owner.
The team’s full-time drivers, Justin Wilson and Mike Conway, are joined by Indy-only drivers Tomas Scheckter and Ana Beatriz this month.
DENNIS REINBOLD: “A.J. (Foyt) has been around a lot longer than we have and so has Panther Racing. I think we’re third on the list. You survive just based on being creative to provide enough funding to get by. For us for many years, it was a matter of survival. We’ve always wanted to position ourselves to get to the point where our focus is solely on winning. I’m not excited about second place, and we’re inching closer to victory lane. We’re there right now (because) we have the best driver lineup we’ve ever had. We’ve got some of the best people we’ve ever had. All through our organization, we’ve stepped it up at every level that we can control. It’s not ideal to come here with four drivers, but each of our four are here for a very good reason because we want to develop them for drivers in our future and develop our team for growth. It’s a conscious effort, and we’re always excited to be here at Indy.”
Longtime Indianapolis Motor Speedway Public Address announcer Tom Carnegie visited the track Saturday and today. Carnegie, 90, was the lead PA announcer at the track from 1946-2006.
TOM CARNEGIE: “It’s great to be here. It is typically cold, half-raining, but I love it and I’ll stay out here as long as they’ll let me. I have sat through many cold, rainy days throughout the years, many, many, but that’s just part of it. And when you have the chance to pause and sit in the rain, your mind goes back to days out here, and it is just a thrill to be here.” (About his time at the track this weekend): “I have seen many old friends, many, many, and as long as I don’t have difficulty remembering who they are, I’m in pretty good shape, and so far I’m doing fairly well.” (How often will you visit this month?): “I will pick good weather, but I would come out here every day if I can. And who knows? Maybe I will.”
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk is helping driver Mike Conway with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing during the IZOD IndyCar Series season, including this month. Luyendyk also talked today about the new qualifying format and other Indianapolis 500 topics.
ARIE LUYENDYK: “This year I’m helping the Dreyer & Reinbold race team. I’ll be working with their driver, Mike Conway. I’ll be with them on all of the oval races this year. I’ll be coaching him, giving him a bunch of pointers, and trying to help him get around the racetrack fast and safe. Most of the things we work on deal with car setup. Things like trying to guide them and keep the setup going in the right direction so that the driver doesn’t get all messed up in his head.” (On preparing for the Indianapolis 500): “A lot of the Indy 500 is a big mental game. You don’t want to get the driver discouraged or make him lose confidence. You really want him to be confident with his race car and the setup. Once he feels comfortable, he can go really fast.” (On the qualifying format): “I think it’s a great format. I’ve always believed in shortening the month, which they have now done. Having 24 cars the first day and then having the shootout for the pole is really great for the fans. I hope they come out and watch and prove the new formula to be right. From a driver’s perspective, I don’t think it’s great to be forced to have to go out so many times to actually get the pole. I like the old way better. You get it done in three tries, or you’re out. But things are changing everywhere and in our sport. It will be an exciting shootout for the pole because you’re chasing the track conditions all day long. When the track changes, you have to change your car to get that little extra speed out of it. So these guys that qualify in the top nine have their work cut out for them.”
FAAZT Race Team General Manager talked today about the health of driver Alex Tagliani, who is suffering from bronchitis, and the status of the team’s second entry, for driver Bruno Junqueira.
ROB EDWARDS: (On the health of Alex Tagliani): “Alex is doing better. Every day that goes by, he’s getting better and better. We hadn’t planned to run yesterday. We hope to get out there today to get the car shaken down. Then the rest of the week, we should be in good shape with Alex’s program.” (Can you provide an update on team’s second entry with Bruno Junqueira?): “Not really at the moment. Bruno is racing in Brazil this weekend. The plan wasn’t for him to be here until Monday or Tuesday, anyway. We had the car prepped. It made sense to get the car here. We’re hoping we can run him, but we still don’t know at the moment.” (Could you guess on what percentage chance you have at running him?): “I’m not a gambling man. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Firestone Indy Lights driver Martin Plowman gave some lucky fans the thrill of turning laps around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s famed 2.5-mile oval this morning. Plowman and fellow Firestone Indy Lights drivers Stefan Wilson, Charlie Kimball and James Hinchcliffe are members of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series Pace Car Team, which gives hot lap rides on race weekends.
MARTIN PLOWMAN: “I got the fortunate job to drive at the Speedway every single day this month, getting the chance to scare the bejeezus out of paying VIPs and sponsors.” (About moving to Andretti Autosport this season): “Obviously, driving for Andretti Autosport, a two-time defending champion team, the pressure is on for me to make that three years in a row. But it’s nice to know I’ve got a fantastic group of individuals around me. I don’t have to worry about anything when I’m in the car. Everything from the small things like drink bottles in the cars to the big stuff; I just have to focus on my job and not worry about anything else. Our test here went very well. In the morning, we ran very well in traffic, and in the afternoon, we focused solely on qualifying speed and running by ourselves. That’s why on the time sheet we’re languishing down in 10th place, but we know that we didn’t run fully in traffic. We’re happy where we are and think we have a good chance at the win.” (About returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): “It feels great. I’ve been to this track maybe a thousand times, even though it’s just my second year racing. But walking down pit lane in a fire suit toward my car – the grandstands surround you – it’s just overwhelming. I get goose bumps. That’s when the emotion starts to kick in, and I realize I’m going to drive at the most famous racetrack in the world.”
Miss Indiana 2009 Nicole Pollard was at the track today with her boyfriend, Firestone Indy Lights driver Martin Plowman. Pollard, from Lafayette, Ind. was a 2009 500 Festival Princess. The couple met at the IZOD IndyCar Series race last summer at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
NICOLE POLLARD: “I was a 500 Festival Princess last year, and that really exposed me to the world of motorsports. I fell in love with it here, and the passion continued as I went on to other races. This year I’m helping Martin with some PR and marketing, just making sure he gets out and sees the fans. Motorsports PR is definitely something I’ve been interested in. With the love of motorsports and all of the media training I’ve gotten as Miss Indiana, it just seems like a natural progression to put them together. I’m also teaching full time at Northridge Middle School as the choir director, so it really keeps me on my toes.”
The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation conducted “A Day at the Races” today for guests with disabling injuries. Indianapolis 500 and Firestone Indy Lights team owner Sam Schmidt, Indianapolis 500 driver Townsend Bell and Firestone Indy Lights drivers Philip Major, J.K. Vernay and Pippa Mann had lunch and talked with the guests.
SAM SCHMIDT: “This is our Day at the Races program with support of UMP, Honda and Firestone and great folks like that. We have now been expanded to nine markets this year, and frankly it is all about getting people out of the hospital. We work with a combination of groups. Here it is RHI (Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana), PVA (Paralyzed Veterans of America) , Wounded Warriors, those types of organizations in each market, and we bring people out to the track to try to encourage them that no matter what their disability to keep pursing their dream. We have Miss Wheelchair Indiana; it’s all good stuff. It’s about making it anything that makes it worthwhile to get up every morning, whether it is to find a job or get into athletic programs and just flat out pursue your passion. That’s what we are trying to promote here. The bottom line is that if someone isn’t on a vent (ventilator), they aren’t any worse off than me, and they just need to figure out what they can do and get out and do it instead of sitting at home and doing nothing. It’s soul-searching for everybody. This type of disability turns everyone’s life upside-down. Not just the person in the chair, it’s their family, their friends, it’s everybody around them. To get over that, you need to find something that makes you want to get up in the morning. For me, it’s racing. For some, it is being Olympic athletes, too. John Martinson, next to me, he loved to hunt before he was paralyzed and he started a hunting program for people with disabilities up in Wisconsin. He takes 20 to 25 people at a time out into the wilderness, and they shoot deer and all kinds of things. So that’s what it’s all about. It doesn’t have to be racing. It doesn’t have to be what I do. It’s about what you can do. I have to applaud the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and all of the other tracks we go to for giving us the parking passes and tickets for days like today, because it is not only a good thing to do but also highlights the accessible nature of the track and facilities so people know they can come back with their families, and that is part of the component, as well.”
JOEY MURELLO (Noblesville, Ind., 2010 Miss Wheelchair Indiana): “I have recently been crowned Miss Wheelchair Indiana, and in August I will be travelling to Grand Rapids, Mich., for the National pageant, hopefully to be crowned Miss Wheelchair National. The competition is public speaking and interview. The emphasis of the pageant is to help build a bridge between the disabled community and the able-bodied community and help people to understand that there really isn’t difference between a wheelchair. So far, it has been a fun day for us.”
JOHN MARTINSON: “My first event was at Chicagoland, and I was just overwhelmed by how nice everybody was, and I kept in touch with Sam Schmidt by e-mail. This event was about five and a half hours away from me, so I thought I would come down and say hi to everybody again. It’s all about the people and the great organization that are doing research for spinal cord injuries. I am just really active in getting people out and doing outdoor activities. We have an organization in Wisconsin called Adaptive Sportsman, Inc. that is a non-profit organization. It helps people with disabilities get out and do outdoor activities – hunting, fishing, ATV riding, kayaking, and going to races. Basically, it is anything to motivate people to see somebody else doing it in their situation, and they feel capable to do it themselves. This event is excellent. It gets you to do something besides sitting at home looking at four walls, that’s for sure. You get to meet a lot of great people, and that is what it is all about.”
TOWNSEND BELL: “Sam has a great foundation, and I’m just happy to do everything I can to try and support everything he does. It is just nice to come out and see everybody. I try to do what I can to support the program.”
Indianapolis 500 veteran E.J. Viso took a few moments today to talk about returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to attempt to make his third start in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
E.J. VISO: (Where is your unicycle?): “I did not bring the unicycle because it isn’t the Month of May anymore. It is just the half-month, and I knew I was not going to have enough time to play around. Hopefully next year if they go back to the normal format, I will bring it. Last year we had plenty of days off, and this year we have very little, and I prefer to spend that time with the team.” (About the old schedule format versus the new schedule format): “There are some points in the month where you really just want to race and that’s it, but in another way, it is nice, the whole month of May, the history, the Indy 500, the full format. But either way, it is the Indy 500, and I’m glad to be here. It’s the Indy 500.” (Is the event easier since you’re a veteran?): “Ahhh, I think you never say it is easier. At least the more you come to this place, you know and expect what is coming. Maybe in my rookie year (2008) I might have attacked too early in the month. Now that I am a little more experienced, I know it doesn’t matter the first week as long as you prove have a comfortable car and you are working toward the race.”
INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE QUOTES:
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): “Today was a good day for Team Penske. Despite the weather, with it raining off and on, we were still able to work on some areas to make the car better for the race. It’s always good to be out there learning something. On the fast lap, I just put myself in a good position to get a good draft, and we wound up with a faster lap than yesterday.”
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): “Today was the first day that we really started working on setup on the 500 program. It was very good. We tried different setups, learned about the setups that we have. They’re both good, but one is better than the other. We are pleased with the day because we learned a lot. I think we’ll be in good shape so it was a good first step.”
DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): “I’m not 100 percent sure what happened. We’ll have to go back and look at the data. It’s obviously not the way you want to start the second day at Indianapolis. I think the team are very well prepared for this month, and everyone could see the National Guard Panther Racing car’s pretty quick.” (About his foot): “It’s bruised. I whacked it on the side of the tub. It’s one of those things. Sometimes you hit really hard and you don’t get knocked up at all and sometimes you have those little hits, and I think when I went into the wall it banged my foot against the side of the tub. Just bruising. Nothing big.” (Does this hurt with the condensed schedule?): “We have plenty of time. I think the team will bounce back real quickly. We have two great crews, and unfortunately, it’s created a lot of work for them, but if anyone can rebound quickly, it’s the National Guard boys.”
DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 21 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing): “It was good to get some laps in. We chose to do the veteran refresher with the rookies. We shook the car down pretty good. Actually, it was pretty easy. But it’s always Indy. The setup I had I figured I would have another mile an hour of speed in it. We are now doing a motor change. This motor we’re putting in it now is good for all of the way through qualifying. If we could just add a little more steam and we hope we could find a few little things – if I could only have one more mile an hour. Who doesn’t say that all of the time, right? We had to do a motor change because the motor we had in it was just for the refresher. And now that we do the motor change, we’re on the same page as everybody else as far as mileage.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske): “We had a solid day in the No. 6 Team Penske car. We ran lots of laps, and we actually made some good adjustments on the set-up for our race car. We made progress in the direction we will be working toward tomorrow. Things are going well. We are working through our list and moving forward.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): “We turned some quality laps today in the Verizon car, and a 225.600 (mph) average speed makes for a solid lap. We were able to turn 28 laps today despite losing some time with a radio issue that the guys had to fix. The weather could be much different next weekend, so we’ll have to wait and see if what we learned today is helpful for qualifying. All the Team Penske cars seem to be quick, and we’ll continue to fine-tune things so we’re prepared when it comes time to qualify.”
ALEX LLOYD (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America): “We’re still in race trim. We started in a little neutral, maybe a little loose. We have dialed the car, so it’s pretty good in the little bit of traffic we found. We’re not going to trim out and go for speed to stick with our plan. Compared to the first day (Saturday), we found our car has changed a bit. The track conditions brought out some potential issues that we didn’t see yesterday, which is good, because that gives us a chance to work on it. This track changes every day. There’s always a subtle change that affects the balance of the car. I’m sure we’ll go out Monday, and it will be different again. That’s how it is. Hopefully by the end of the month you have run in enough different conditions that you can piece it all together for Race Day.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 30 The Quick Trim/RLR Special): “We got some more speed out of it today, but the biggest thing is that it is still early. There’s more in it, and we’re the conservative side among the teams out here. I think we all feel pretty good about where we are right now. Certainly, there’s more time and there are things that we haven’t done yet that should mean more speed, but we’re taking our time and getting where we need to be.”
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 41 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): “I think our first day on the track went well. It’s great that A.J. (Foyt) and (engineer) Jeff Britton gave me a good solid car to start with straight off, and having Vitor helping out with the setups too after he gets done with practice is great, too. The ABC car’s really solid and actually pretty fast, so we’re happy with where we are right now. I think we can make small changes on it from here to try to find a little bit more speed and be pretty good.” (About being back in the car after being out for so long): “It took about five or six laps on my first hard run, but it was exciting and it was fun. I was excited to be able to get back out there and try to run fast. It’s just a thrill -everything speeds up really fast, and you just feel like you’re going super-fast once you’ve been out of the car for so long. But then as you go along throughout the day, it slows back down and feels back to normal.”
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Team Window World): “We really focused on running race setups today. We haven’t gone into qualifying runs yet. I think we’ve got a really good balance on the Window World Dallara. We got in some traffic, moved around and just tried a couple of different things to test downforce. The weather conditions right now are almost ideal – overcast and very little wind. A lot of people are advantage of the track time and we’re one of them. We look forward to the start tomorrow.”
JAY HOWARD (No. 66 Service Central/Sarah Fisher Racing): (About completing all four phases of rookie orientation): “It went very good, exactly how we planned. It’s always nice when that happens. Hats off to the guys, they did a great job, and the car was very comfortable for me. I was told to slow down. It’s a little frustrating especially when the car feels so much better when you’re going faster. But rules are the rules, and we need to abide by them. The (ROP) lets us go out there with as minimum cars as possible, get the feel of track and the car. Then for the rest of the month, it’s game on.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 29 William Rast/Bryan Herta Autosport): “I am very happy to complete all phases of Rookie Orientation. I felt very comfortable with the car and the speeds at every step. Once we completed the program, we started to focus on the car and began to take downforce off so I can learn what a real Indy car feels like around Indianapolis. It was a great day overall, and I am very happy. We had some problems in the morning (fuel pump), but the team did an incredible job to make the repairs in a short amount of time. I am looking forward to tomorrow. It was great. It was very exciting. It is something I was looking forward to for a long time. We were able to pass the rookie test and now for another phase of the Indy 500 – setting up the car. I’m just loving it, everything, not only being around, but what’s happening inside it. All the people, the fans, and I feel very comfortable with the car and with the team, I am able to see them working. It’s something I will always remember.”
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 Herbalife Ganassi/Schmidt Racing): “It’s Indy. You know it’s going to rain. You get used to it. We have lots of time. I will have more time on the track than I did last year. To me, it feels like we’re still on schedule with where we are. I feel we’re still on schedule. It will be nice when we are able to refine the package.” (About running in practice): “We didn’t get to run very much. We only did 20 laps today, and I think I only followed someone for three laps. But so far it feels the same (as last year). I feel like I am 99.9 percent comfortable being on the track. If I had to race tomorrow, I’d be ready.”
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Panasonic Formula Dream): “We worked on the race setup mostly at the beginning of the day. I was very happy behind one car. I wasn’t in huge traffic yet, but at least I was behind one or two cars and the car was quite good, so I’m happy. We came back to the garage and changed the car a little bit and went back out late in the day. We didn’t trim all the way but trimmed a little bit for qualifying, and the time was quite decent. We still have more to trim but we now have a clear picture of what we should do tomorrow. We were only able to run six laps when we went back out because of the rain, but it gives us some direction for tomorrow. The lap time at the end was when I was running on my own without a draft, so I think the Formula Dream/Panasonic team is in good shape.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven): “Today was OK. It was a smooth day. We’re still working toward getting a good balance for the Team 7-Eleven car, but it’s still early. It’s only Sunday, and we still have six days to go until the ‘first’ big day.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD): “We threw some things at the IZOD car today that really didn’t get the results we were looking for, so we’re going to make some big changes for tomorrow and see what that does for us. It’s just another part of the process. The good thing is that we’re getting all this stuff done somewhat early. The team is working really hard and they always give me great race cars, so we’re stay after it.”
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com): “Today’s practice was very productive overall. The GoDaddy car has been consistent during the first two days, so we have been able to try out a few different setups, which is good. Hopefully the rain doesn’t become too much of an issue this week.”
MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology): “Our day was just fine. We are right where we want to be with our settings. We are just getting up to speed for the second day. Our team is working on a variety of things with each of the drivers. We’ll continue to work on our program that was laid out for us before we came to the track this month.”
E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA-Jet Aviation-KV Racing Technology): “We had another smooth second day. Of course, the weather played with us a little today. We were able to go through all of the changes we wanted for the day. We are still very conservative on our downforce levels. It’s too early to pull out all of the downforce off the car. Right now, the puzzle pieces are coming together for us.”
PAUL TRACY (No. 15 GEICO – KV Racing Technology): “We took a methodical approach with our GEICO-KV Racing car. We ran race setup all today. Our KV Racing team wanted me to get close with other cars for a feeling in race trim. This team is really working well together as Mario (Moraes) and E.J. (Viso) were working more on the qualifying setup. We got Takuma (Sato) through his rookie test, so he can get into the race mode now. We have cars spread across the grid for setups.”
MARIO ROMANCINI (No. 34 Conquest Racing): “I think the most important thing is we were able to get some good track time. I did almost 120 laps, which is what we were looking for. Today we were able to go through all of the phases they were asking us to do for the rookie test. It’s good because at the end of the session I was feeling good with the car, feeling comfortable. Now I am ready to start working on the setup, so tomorrow we start the week before qualifying and we’ll have plenty of time to work on the car. It was a good learning day, most of all. We are going to try and find more speed. You always need to trim out the car and be careful. We’ll go step by step. As we are getting more and more comfortable, we’ll start making bigger changes on the car.”
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “We really haven’t been beyond the shakedown phase with the 10 car. We haven’t had many laps. We have less than 30 laps in the two cars on the track in two days. We will get serious about it tomorrow. The car feels pretty quick. We’re just going to keep working on balance and get that exact feeling that we need from the car for qualifying and the race. All these times you are seeing is the benefit of tows with two or three cars. You’ll begin to see true speed toward the middle of this week coming. For qualifying, that’s one side of things: We have to make sure the car is fast. For qualifying and the race, we have to make sure the Target car has a nice balance in it so we can trim it out and run well in traffic. We’ll work on both because of the compacted schedule now. We’re going to be busy; hope the weather cooperates.”
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 FAZZT Race Team): “I’m very, very proud of the boys. They did a fantastic job. I think the car is great. Our Kansas weekend was a good preview for where we’re going to be here at Indy. We qualified fifth there. Today our plan was to shake the car down and just evaluate it, and the car is fantastic. It’s just really, really good. We ran on our own with lots of downforce on the car and no tow from anybody, so we’re very excited about the speed that we’re doing right now. It’s a good beginning for the week, and now I’m just waiting to get back on track.”
BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 36 Conquest Racing RACB): “It was good. We went step by step up to speed. We started with a lot of downforce on the car, and then progressively we trimmed it out. Every time we did a change on the car we were going faster, so it’s quite good. It shows that we are going in the right direction. We have one week to work on it, and we’ll try to make it faster. For the moment, we are quite comfortable. But we still have a lot of downforce on the car, so it’s normal. Progressively we’ll try to get it more loose.”
MIKE CONWAY (No. 24 Dad’s Root Beer/DRR): “It was a shame we couldn’t get back out toward the end (rain showers) because we need to do some more laps. The car wasn’t comfortable at all. I never went flat on one lap. It’s a bit confusing because we didn’t really change much on the car overnight. We just have to sit down and look at what we’ve got. Hopefully we can come out and be quick again. There was no real speed in the car today.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): “We made some progress with the Venom car today, and I think we’re heading in the right direction. Unfortunately, the rain cut practice a bit short, and we didn’t get to a couple of changes that we’re optimistic about. Hopefully the rain will hold off tomorrow, and we can keep working and find the speed we’re looking for.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Team Z-Line Designs/DRR): “It was a good day. The car feels good. We made a couple of changes and freed it up a little bit. We’re working our way through a grocery list of things we wanted to try on the car. We haven’t really trimmed it much. We did one change to try and make it a little nicer, and that was positive. We’re moving forward. We’re sticking to our plan; we know what we want to achieve. Hopefully the weather will play out the next couple of days and we can get into some more speed-related things, start to trim the car out, get a little more aggressive. Right now it’s all a case of getting that race car well, and we want the Z-Line Design car to be racy in a couple of week’s time.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): (On the inconsistent weather and any difficulties with practice): “That’s what you expect when you come to Indy in the month of May. I live in Indy, and any time I’ve been living here, you kind of expect the weather to be a little odd this time of year. Today was definitely no different than any other. For us, I think, for the first two days we wanted to maintain that we only ran one set of tires. We’re trying to hold back on the tires a lot for later in the week when we really need to go for speed and can concentrate on qualifying without any sort of drawbacks with not being able to use the tires we want to use. We had a couple of runs yesterday in the backup car and a couple of runs today in the primary car just to make sure everything works. We made a few minor mechanical changes on the car. Today, I think everyone had pretty big tows to get to those speeds. The car feels pretty decent. Hopefully, we can go out tomorrow and run a full week. I think weather is going to be a challenge, so we’ll see where it goes. The tough part for everybody this year is trying to manage qualifying runs and race runs within the five or six days that you have.” (On the close call with Dan Wheldon’s spinning car): “Yeah, that was pretty close. Luckily we just missed.” (On the aerodynamic changes of the cars this year compared to last year): “It’s hard to tell straight out of the box. So far, the car seems to pull up pretty well. It seems to be a little bit better. With the combination now, you have less drag and more downforce. Those two key elements and less dirty air could be a big thing as far as racing.”
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Team Stargate Worlds HVM): “It was my second time out on an oval, and being here at Indy is something pretty special. I went through ROP (Rookie Orientation Program), and it was pretty good. I’m sure tomorrow will be pretty different with all of the people around me, but I really enjoyed it. I think the track is really different. It makes a little more sense to me to think that the corners are like really fast road course corners as compared to Kansas, where there was a lot of banking. I’m sure it will be very busy when we go out to qualify.” (On the pressure of competing with the other female drivers): “This year has been new to me to be racing against other women drivers. I’ve been racing the past five races with Danica and with Sarah in the last one. It’s not really a focus for me to be beating them. I’m here to do my job and I’m a driver. So, I’m not really comparing what they’re doing to what I am doing. I don’t really feel any pressure in that way.” (On her impression of Indianapolis): “I’ve been here two days, and already it’s been pretty crazy. It’s pretty special to be here and to be competing with the other drivers. Two years ago, when I saw my first race, I never thought that I’d be racing here. I’m really excited about it. I’m just here to learn. It’s kind of the first time we’ve really tested on an oval with the team. I can start understanding the car and how I feel in the car on an oval.” (On the transition to ovals): “I really respect the ovals. I used to think, ‘Oh, it looks easy,’ because all the cars are going fast, and they don’t really seem to move. But when you get in the car and go out on an oval for the first time, it’s a real eye-opener. It’s insane when you’re behind people because you just have no clue what you are supposed to do out there. Like in Kansas, for the first 50 laps or so you’re kind of wondering what to do, but then you kind of pick it up as you go. And the faster we go, the more difficult it’s going to get. I have a lot of respect for people who have been doing it for a while, and to be a part of it now is something really cool.” (On the difference between practice and Race Day): “A lot of people have been saying that it will be different. Even right now, everyone is saying that Turn 1 is the most difficult corner because of all the grandstands. I think that if you pick your points on the track, it will definitely help you. I know on Race Day it is going to be very different, and for the first few laps I will be thinking, ‘Oh, this is weird.'”
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 23 Mona Vie/DRR): “Unfortunately, we had limited track time today because of the bad weather. Every time we tried to get something going with the car, it would rain again. The two days have been tough so far on trying to find out where we are at. We will continue to work at it again and see what we can find in the next couple of days.”
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 25 Ipiranga/DRR): “We passed ROP today, and I’m very happy. I felt comfortable getting up to speed, and I could run in traffic, as well. It felt really good, and was a great experience. Now that we are done we will be able to run in the 220s. Because of the orientation test, you put pressure on yourself to get fast right away, so everything is a progress. You have to take 10 laps to get to the specific speed and be in that specific speed that they want you to do, so once you get in the 215s, it’s more natural and was easier for me and I felt more comfortable. I look forward to getting back out on track tomorrow.”
A total of 44 cars are currently at the Speedway and 36 have passed technical inspection and two are in the process. Thirty-six drivers have been on the track to date and turned 1,375 laps today and 1,972 laps this month. Mario Romancini turned 117 laps today, more than any other driver. There were 10 cautions for a total of one hour, 28 minutes today.
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues May 30 with the 2010 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at noon (ET) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway The race will air live on VERSUS.