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CASTRONEVES SETS PACE ON FAST FRIDAY AT INDIANAPOLIS

From Amy Konrath

INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, May 21, 2010) – Helio Castroneves paced a frantic “Fast Friday” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as IZOD IndyCar Series teams fine-tuned their setups in advance of Pole Day.

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and three-time Indy 500 pole sitter Castroneves recorded a lap of 39.7250 seconds (226.558 mph) in the No. 3 Team Penske car. Thirty cars were within a half-second of Castroneves, with 10 different teams represented in the top 15.

Castroneves’ teammate Will Power was second at 226.429, with FAZZT Race Team’s Alex Tagliani third at 226.153. 2008 winner Scott Dixon was fourth at 225.828 in a Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, with KV Racing Technology’s Mario Moraes rounding out the top five at 225.806.

The top 24 spots in the 33-car starting field will be filled through traditional four-lap attempts. The times of the top nine cars based on time from Segment 1 will advance to Segment 2 for a 90-minute shootout for the PEAK Performance Pole Award presented by AutoZone and bonus points that could impact the season-long driver championship race.

Enticements include a $175,000 payout to the pole winner along with significant paydays for the other front-row starters, championship bonus points and, of course, the No. 1 position for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on May 30.

DAY 7 NOTEBOOK:

Indianapolis 500 rookie Takuma Sato is using the iRacing.com motorsports simulation service this month to prepare for his first start in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

Sato is driving the No. 5 Lotus-KV Racing Technology car this month and in the entire IZOD IndyCar Series season after racing in Formula One from 2002-08, including a third-place finish in the 2004 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis.

Sato is helping Interush, Inc. introduce iRacing.com to Japanese driving game enthusiasts.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of more than 40 racetracks in the U.S. and around the world that are represented in the iRacing.com internet-based motorsport simulation service. The service is inexpensive and intended to let motorsport fans and racing games enthusiasts from all around the world practice and, if they wish, compete against friends and other fans in organized races.

The tracks and cars in the service are modeled so accurately that a professional racing driver can use them to learn a track he or she has never seen before. iRacing.com uses survey-quality laser-scanning to capture data, so the finished track is accurate to with two millimeters. Every tiny bump or change in road camber is accurately represented in the virtual version of the track.

Other Indianapolis 500 drivers who are iRacing.com members include Justin Wilson, Will Power, Ryan Briscoe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dan Wheldon, Tomas Scheckter, Danica Patrick, Mike Conway, Raphael Matos, A.J. Foyt IV and Sato’s fellow IZOD IndyCar Series rookie, Simona de Silvestro.

TAKUMA SATO: “Many people think that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a simple track, just four 90-degree left-hand turns. But at speeds up to 230 mph, each turn is unique, with many subtle differences that make them completely different. Like many of the other IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, I use iRacing.com to get to know these tracks better before I get out on the actual track. I am very impressed with the realism of the iRacing.com online racing simulation. Plus it’s a lot of fun at the same time!”

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The qualifying draw for Pole Day will take place at 6:15 p.m. tonight on the Coca-Cola Stage in the Pagoda Plaza.

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Mezzo Technologies engineers Charles Becnel, Patrick Luke and Christophe Marques and Tino Belli of Andretti Autosport received the 44th annual BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer Award today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for their development of the Mezzo MicroChannel Radiator.

Designed to fit in the same space and use the same connectors as existing radiators, the Mezzo MicroChannel Radiator significantly reduces coolant temperature with reliable, robust performance. Earlier this year, the IZOD IndyCar Series approved the technology for use by all teams.

Mezzo Technologies, based in Baton Rouge, La., also has developed cooling systems for military and other automotive use.

Increased cooling capacity results in better engine performance and greater horsepower. Unlike conventional radiators that rely on fin designs to transfer heat, the Mezzo MicroChannel Radiator uses nearly 5 miles of stainless steel micro tubes measuring less than 0.5 mm (1/50th of an inch) in diameter to reduce engine temperatures up to 8 degrees C (14 degrees F). A corrugated arrangement also increases heat transfer while keeping pressure losses low.

Developed by Mezzo Technologies in close cooperation with Andretti Autosport, the technology is now being evaluated by other race series, as well as the aviation industry.

Presented to engineers by engineers, the Louis Schwitzer Award rewards individuals with the courage and passion to explore and develop new concepts in racing technology. BorgWarner sponsors this prestigious $10,000 award, which is presented by the Indiana Section of SAE International. The winners’ names are added to the Schwitzer trophy on permanent display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

Mezzo Technologies doesn’t have a longtime background with racing technology, but it joins the prestigious company of past Schwitzer winners, including such legends as Andy Granatelli, Dan Gurney, Colin Chapman, Bruce McLaren, Smokey Yunick, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, John Barnard and others.

PATRICK LUKE (Mezzo Technologies): “We’re a small company, and we’re much like family. We’re just tickled to win this award. For the Indy racing (project), Tino found us.” (About award’s significance): “He (Louis Schwitzer) was an amazing innovator and engineer. I don’t think we know the company we’re in, but I think everybody is Google-ing it back home. We’re tickled.”

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Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears talked today about working as a spotter this month for Helio Castroneves, who is attempting to match the record of four Indy victories shared by Mears, A.J. Foyt and Al Unser.

RICK MEARS: “Helio doesn’t need a whole lot of coaching or spotting. I’m a safety factor. In my mind, the driver should know what’s going on around him at all times, anyway. I’m a backup in case the driver misses something. I’m going to be helping him whenever someone is getting a run on him on the outside or the inside, and those are the things I’ll be telling him about. I try to stay out of his ear as much as I can and let him drive the car. I’ll try to give the driver a head’s up if something happens on the track up ahead so he has a quicker warning because of the closing rates and the speeds. I can also watch other cars and their lines and see if something is working better for them under the conditions on the track, and I may suggest it. I’ll answer any questions Helio has and try to help him do well.” (On working as a spotter for a three-car team): “I’ve spotted here before because it’s one of the only places we need more than one spotter per car. This year, with the three cars, I will be spotting at all of the ovals. We need more spotters for the team, and that’s a gap that I can fill.”

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The Indianapolis Star’s website, indystar.com, was recently nominated for an EPPY Award by Editor & Publisher magazine in the Best Special Web Feature – News or Event category for its Indianapolis 500-Centennial Era coverage in 2009. Interviews with IMS Historian Donald Davidson were featured throughout the coverage. CNN.com, Newsweek and Boston.com are the other nominees.

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Winners of the men’s and women’s divisions of the Little 500 bicycle race served as honorary starters today. Five members of the winning women’s team, Teter Hall, and one member of the men’s team, Cutters, waved the green flag.

The Cutters team is a multi-time winner of the race and were immortalized in the movie “Breaking Away,” which won the 1979 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

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1979 Indianapolis 500 Chase Rookie of the Year Howdy Holmes visited the track today. Holmes, 62, is a six-time Indianapolis 500 starter, with a career-best finish of sixth in 1983. He started second in 1984.

HOWDY HOLMES: “Every time I come back, I am more in awe of the facility. Thinking back, it’s hard to believe this thing (Indianapolis 500) really happened for me. It’s like a homecoming. I really enjoy it. My best memory is when I walked out onto pit lane on race day morning in 1979, and there were hundreds of thousands of people out there. The opportunity for me to race came very late that month, and I didn’t have much time to think about it. It was very easy to be overwhelmed by all the history, but I’ll never forget that moment – that was the first time. The other five times I raced here, it was no more less, but that first time was different. For me, unlike most drivers, I sat in the stands since 1957, and that was my interest in racing, being a spectator. So to be on one side of the fence and then on the best side of the fence was very rewarding.”

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Indianapolis 500 veteran Tyce Carlson visited the track today. Carlson started the Indianapolis 500 in 1997 and 1999.

TYCE CARLSON: (Was the pressure greater in qualifying when you weren’t on an elite team?): “Yes. The second you felt anything you came right in, you didn’t run that second lap. So you talked to people, went back to the scales, made a change and got back out there.” (What was your first qualifying experience like?): “Well, my first qualifying day was the first time I was ever in an Indy car. It was 1996, and Scott Brayton had passed. I had been looking for a ride all month after I passed my rookie orientation. Danny Ongais had moved to the Menards car, and PDM put me in their car at the last second. So I didn’t have any time to think. I was like, ‘All right, kid, go out there and run some laps, and let’s go qualify.’ So there was no time to think, so after it was done it was like, ‘Wow, that just happened to me.’ So the day before, I had no idea that I was going to get a ride. I woke up in the morning, I was doing yard work, and I heard what happened to Scotty (Brayton) and that the rides were changing. Big Kenny Allison, who is no longer with us, came by the house and said, ‘Listen, we had been pounding the pavement all month long, so we have to go on this last day of qualifying and see if we can find anything.’ I went to PDM, and they said, ‘Go get your suit,’ but it was in locked in Kenny’s car, so I had to break in, and the rest was history.”

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For the second day in a row, Townsend Bell challenged his Twitter fans with a question at www.twitter.com/TownsendBell99. Today, Bell asked his fans what his first IndyCar owner Pat Patrick mistakenly called him for the first six months of his contract.

Again, the first person to answer correctly would have their Twitter ID carried on Bell’s helmet today in practice. Twitter fan @GETCH20 first answered correctly, and Townsend lettered @GETCH20 on his helmet for practice today. “Thompson” is what Pat Patrick called Townsend the first half of that season.

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Herbalife CEO Michael Johnson was raised in Jackson, Mich., and was childhood friends with the children of U.E. Pat Patrick., a long-time Indy car owner. Patrick was the winning car owner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1973 and 1982 with driver Gordon Johncock and co-owner in 1989 with Chip Ganassi for driver Emerson Fittipaldi. Years later, Townsend Bell became an Indy car driver for Patrick but never competed at Indy with him.

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Indianapolis 500 team owner Sam Schmidt talked today about his strategy for Fast Friday and qualifying for the No. 99 Herbalife Ganassi/Schmidt Racing car driven by Townsend Bell.

SAM SCHMIDT: “The second year really helps. Having done the deal with Ganassi last year, the only effective new variable is Townsend, and he picked up right where he left off last year. I’m really pleased with the progress today. And today is one of those days, more than anything, you don’t want to screw up which you’ve built all week because there is no time to recover if you make a mistake. The conditions are going to be dramatically different tomorrow, so parking the car (with two hours remaining in practice) is a wise decision. We’re not going to be a shot for the pole, but were definitely going to be in the hunt for the top nine. It’s going to be very interesting tomorrow to see the strategy play out with three attempts and all the other changes. I’m just, overall, really pleased with where we’re at right now.”

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Midwestern rock band The Elms performed today on the Coca-Cola Stage. The band, celebrating 10 years of making music together, formed in Seymour, Ind.

OWEN THOMAS (Lead singer, The Elms): “We had one of our songs, called ‘Back to Indiana,’ that premiered on the broadcast of the 2009 race. It’s a song about coming home, and the state has really embraced it. So there’s a little bit of a soft spot we have for this place, the state and the race. We have a great time playing here. I’ve never been to the race because we’re on the road all the time. It keeps us away. (The Indianapolis 500) is as American as any great American sporting institution. I need to come – hopefully next year.”

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Drivers representing four different teams posted the top five speeds of the day today: Team Penske (Helio Castroneves, Will Power), Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon), FAZZT Race Team (Alex Tagliani) and KV Racing Technology (Mario Moraes).

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All 36 drivers today were separated by .7745 of a second. Fifteen drivers turned laps of 225 mph or faster today.

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No driver has been in the top five on the speed charts more than five of the six days of on-track activity so far this month. A rundown:

•Five days: #9 Dixon (May 15, 16, 18, 19, 21)

•Three days: #10 Franchitti (May 15, 16, 19); #11/#43 Kanaan (May 15, 16, 20), #4 Wheldon (May 15, 18, 20); #3 Castroneves (May 15, 16, 21); #77 Tagliani (May 18, 19, 22)

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Helio Castroneves turned the fastest lap of the event, 227.046 mph, on Sunday, May 16.

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Bruno Junqueira is still waiting for anticipated sponsorship dollars to come through to put his No. 33 FAZZT Race Team car on track this weekend.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 33 FAZZT Race Team): “I’m just watching people going around today. It’s a difficult situation. We hoped to have the funds today and maybe get the car ready for the weekend. Sitting and waiting is easy, but it’s difficult to go fast in a short amount of time. I think I’m prepared to do that. I don’t know if it will be tomorrow or if it will be Sunday, but whenever the car is ready, I think I can qualify.”

***

INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE QUOTES:

VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): “I think today was good. Yesterday we tried some things that didn’t work, came back today and everything worked fine, so I think it was a good day. We were not as aggressive as some other teams that are out there now because tomorrow is going to be different weather-wise. We felt we should wait until tomorrow, so we’ll know the conditions we are dealing with before we start changing those details for qualifying. I’m encouraged.”

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Team Z-Line Designs/DRR): “It was not bad. We had a slight tow, not a great one. We went a bit quicker than what we went the other day, and that was with a big more downforce. When we trimmed it out, we thought we could do a pretty good lap time, but it didn’t come. We’ve been a little bit slower, a little bit slower. The Z-Line Designs car has been pretty quick, and we put a few more go-faster parts on it and it’s not quite having it right now. We’ll get it worked out, though.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 30 The Quick Trim/RLR Special): “I think we made a lot of progress today with the car. We’ve always been pretty happy with our pace, but we were struggling to maintain that speed throughout a full run. But we’ve made gains over the day, and now we’re consistent to within two-tenths of a second through the run, and that’s an encouraging sign. I think we’re awfully competitive now, and we should have a pretty good shot to do well this weekend.”

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 41 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): “It’s been an interesting day for us. We struggled a bit earlier in the day just trying to find a balance, and we made quite a few changes. We ended the day well, so that’s what counts and that’s important going into qualifying tomorrow. We have a pretty balanced car, and we can still trim out more tomorrow, so we’ll just have to wait to see what we can do.”

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 FAZZT Race Team): “I feel like I’m sounding like a broken record, but it was another perfect day. It’s been a dream week so far. The B & W boys have done such a great job. Last night I was in the garage by myself waiting for an interview and looking at the car, just going around and looking at every detail. I had to write my boys a note and tell them, ‘Thank you so much for building this baby,’ because just looking at the car makes me speechless. I know that here, in this particular place, where every tenth of a mile per hour counts and all the little bits and pieces on the car are so important, so what we are doing here (being fast) is because of way the crew has built the car. So I wanted to show them my appreciation. We know we have a chance to be in the fast nine tomorrow, and if we have a clear run, we should be OK. Hopefully, that is what happens in qualifying tomorrow, and at the end of the day, we’ll see how far we can push the car to be on the front row and maybe even the pole.”

TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 Herbalife Ganassi/Schmidt Racing): “We’re comfortable but not as fast as we want to be. But the balance is good. The engineers and mechanics are doing a great job. We made some changes and improved the car; then we made a change that wasn’t so good. Then we were able to fix it, which is important. It’s always good to have the ability to fix things that don’t feel right. I’m quite pleased with all of that, and tomorrow, maybe if we put an extra coat of wax on it, we can have a go.” (Do you worry about your qualifying draw?): “I just show up tomorrow morning and just listen to what the engineers have to say. You can’t control it anyway. It is what it is.”

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing): “It was another good day. Both cars are running well, and we learned a lot between the two cars. We were able to trim the car out to a place we wanted and ran quite a few laps on qualifying (simulation). I’m quite happy. We’ll study the data from today so that we can make the right decisions for tomorrow.”

MARIO ROMANCINI (No. 34 Conquest Racing): “We focused mainly on the qualifying trim today and learned some good things for this weekend. We probably could have been even more aggressive on the setup, but we will leave that for the morning. After this week, I think we have a good chance of qualifying, and we will do our best to be in the top 24 tomorrow.”

BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 36 Conquest Racing RACB): “We were able to improve our speed once again today, which is positive for tomorrow. We worked solely on our qualifying trim and went quite quick, especially on one lap, but still need to find more consistency. We continue moving in the right direction daily, giving us a bit more confidence before qualifications this weekend.”

JAY HOWARD (No. 66 Service Central/Sarah Fisher Racing): “The weather was actually good to us today. Don’t know if that’s a good thing or bad thing, but we will find out tomorrow. We made changes throughout the day to the car and feel good about our progress during this week of practice. Fingers crossed I can get the Service Central car in the show on the first day of qualifying.”

SARAH FISHER (No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing): “We’re really working hard to get the Dollar General car to where we need to it to be. I’m thankful that the weather held off today, and we weren’t under a yellow too much because of rain. We really needed that extra time in the car to figure some things out. I’m hoping tomorrow goes well for not only myself, but also for my teammate.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD): “We’ve done most of what we can do right now to get the speed out of the car. We’re really trimmed, and I’m pretty happy with the balance. The IZOD car is pretty neutral. We’re just going to do the best we can tomorrow. Hopefully, it will grease up a little bit tomorrow and get slick. I think that will fall into our favor because we might have a better balance than some out there. I would just love to qualify tomorrow and go race.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven): “It was a good day for the 7-Eleven team, I think. I had a realistic speed in mind today for a goal, and I think we achieved that. Now we’ll just have to see how things go tomorrow. As a team, I think we did what we could. I’m obviously concentrating on tomorrow, but the real thing is a week from Sunday.”

JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Team Window World): “We didn’t think we’d even get on track today. The weather seemed to hold off. We’re still struggling to find speed, to be honest. We’re working at it and taking downforce off the car. We’ve been working with teammates and following a lot of different things. Hopefully by tomorrow we’ll find our speed so when we go to qualify, we’ll put her in the show.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): “I think we made some progress today with the Venom car, but it can be hard to know for sure. Things here can change so fast from one run to the next – sometimes without even making any changes to the car. The field is really tight this year, and there are a number of cars posting quick speeds. We had pretty consistent times today and were able to stay inside the top nine, so let’s hope we can do the same tomorrow.”

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske): “It was a big day for us. We tried different cars, changed engines and we found some good speed. The No. 6 Team Penske car is getting better every time I go on track. I feel really good with the car that I have going into tomorrow, and I am excited about having a fast car on Pole Day here at Indy.”

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “Long day for the Target team. Speed is hiding from us at the moment.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “I seemed like we ran more laps today than we had in any previous day so far this month. We are just missing a bit on our qualifying setup. Hopefully we can get it sorted out tonight in our qualifying meeting and be ready to go do the job we need to do tomorrow. This morning a few people picked up some tows. We worked on the car as much as possible. We were struggling with balance and fuel. I wasn’t real comfortable with the car to trim out to the degree we need to. We did a lot of laps. We didn’t go through a whole lot of tires. All in all, we got the car a little bit better but still not where we need to be. We were going to have another crack at it right at the end, but the rain started to come.”

ALEX LLOYD (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America): “We finally got to trim out a little. The weather held us back the last couple of days. The speed’s pretty good. It’s certainly where we thought we would be. We certainly have more on the table with regards to downforce. We’re still a little on the conservative side. We’re feeling pretty happy. We finally got to show the speed we felt we had in the car. We’ll try to increase that. There’s definitely a little bit left.” (About Pole Day): “There are a lot of quick cars. We would have to nail it perfectly to get in the top nine. A realistic goal for us would be the top 15; we’d be pretty happy. That’s a very achievable goal.”

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Panasonic Formula Dream): “Today we did a qualifying trim run all day. We did a 225 (mph lap) consistently. So I am very happy. I think we are in good shape to get in the top nine tomorrow.” (On the possibility of having nicer weather tomorrow and that changing the setup): “For sure, especially the out lap and the first lap is very difficult with cold conditions to get up to speed. So if the track gets warmer, I think it will be good for all the drivers. I think that will mean more speed. It’s going to be very interesting.” (Are you surprised how well you’ve done so far this year?): “Well, yes I am, definitely. Last year I struggled a lot. I’m looking more forward to the race day. I have a good car; I think a good strategy, as well.”

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 23 Mona Vie/DRR): “The session went all right for us. We just worked on qualifying stuff today. We are looking for a little bit more speed, but we think the car is coming to us, so hopefully we will peak at the right time, and that is tomorrow.”

MIKE CONWAY (No. 24 Dad’s Root Beer/DRR): “Today we ran a lot of race trim stuff and just got the car ready for the race, making sure that we have the car nice and comfortable. So far it looks pretty good and we got some good speed out of the car and we can run pretty close to the cars in front of us, and that’s the main thing. We have been keeping the car consistent, as well, a long run is important and we have been working hard on that. This afternoon we worked on more qualifying runs, too, and fingers crossed we will have some good speed in the car. We need to do the same thing for qualifying tomorrow. We will just put the car on track and make sure the speed is there again and then line up and do a good time, and hopefully we will be up there.”

ANA BEATRIZ (No. 25 Ipiranga/DRR): “Today the weather forecast was kind of wrong. It was supposed to rain all day, and I’m very happy that it wasn’t right because we were able to do some laps. In the first session, we worked on the race setup, and in the afternoon we worked on qualifying to see what it was like. It was another productive day, and I’m very happy about it. Tomorrow is another big day, and we are getting ready for it.”

MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology): “Today was a good day for the KV Racing Technology team. We ran some qualifying setups, and the car felt pretty good. We still have some setups to try tomorrow, but I think we have a good car for qualifying, and I hope we can be in the top nine tomorrow.”

PAUL TRACY (No. 15 GEICO – KV Racing Technology): “We had an OK day. We trimmed out for the first time today, and we had the car a little too loose. The car was a little bit of a handful. We didn’t get as much running as we would like today. I had a bit of a moment when the car got oversteer, and I chased the car up the track. So I ended up brushing the wall. We checked over the car and had to go through the tech line again for Saturday’s qualifying runs. We didn’t get a chance to go back because the tech line was long. In the morning, we’ll go hard at it in qualifying trim.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 Lotus-KV Racing Technology): “Today the Lotus – KV Racing Technology team concentrated on the qualifying setup. We didn’t do a lot of running, but we completed the program we wanted to do. The weather once again was cooler than expected, which is a reason why we finished earlier, but I feel comfortable with the car and am looking forward to my first Indy 500 qualifying tomorrow.”

E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA-Jet Aviation-KV Racing Technology): “The PDVSA – KV Racing Technology team were playing catch-up today after a couple of days behind from my accident, but it’s a good feeling to know that things are getting back to normal. Today we started trimming the car. We still need to change a few things to reach the speeds we need, but I think we made some good progress with my ‘T’ (backup) car. Tomorrow we will be in a much better position to finish our work on our qualifying setup.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): “Today was another great day, the best it’s been all week. The Verizon car feels great out on track, whether I’m in the draft or out on my own. I think we’re prepared for Pole Day, and I know I’m anxious to get out there and give it a go. Helio got the fast lap again today, so I know all the Team Penske cars are capable of being on top tomorrow. I’m just hoping it’ll be the No. 12 Verizon car.”

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com): “Today’s practice session was a great improvement from yesterday, for sure. The GoDaddy car is dialed in, but we still have some work to do before Pole Day. But I feel really confident on where we are at.”

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 29 William Rast/Bryan Herta Autosport): “It was quite a hard day for us. We were at a good point in our learning curve and setting up the car, but today was a bit different. We tried several new things from yesterday and lost quite a bit of momentum on the progress we were making speed-wise. As soon as we located the problem we were having, I started to feel comfortable again and to search for speed, but by then the day was over. However, I am very positive for tomorrow as we found our mistakes and we will be putting into practice what we know has worked for us.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): “Certainly with the conditions we had today, we put all of our focus on qualifying. You want to make sure you get a clean run in and try to simulate a qualifying run as closely as possible. We’re fast and we’re pushing to the limit and trying to make sure that we’re comfortable for tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a little different than past years because we may not have had as much practice time, but we’re happy and we’re right there.” (On the goals of the team): “Every team that comes here wants to be the fastest and get the triple crown of the pole, the pit stop competition and the race. We’ve been running well, but we’ve found that there’s a lot of other good cars out there that might surprise a lot of people. We’re going to continue working and try and squeeze a little bit more out of the car before we go into the real deal.” (On the difficulty of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500): “Oh, boy. Today’s fast lap was just the one time. I couldn’t get three more. It just shows that when you push to that area, it is very difficult. The conditions change all the time. Tomorrow will be different, and the new format is going to be very interesting.” (Comparing this year to last year): “Last year, after the trial, everything was a bonus. We didn’t change anything, and it was a good result. This year, we have the same mentality, and we’ve got to keep pushing. I don’t feel any of the pressure; I just feel that you’ve got to always go to limit, and you can’t play around here.” (On the drivers who have won four times): “I always saw them as the gods of racing. You always talk about them. For me, Rick Mears, A.J. Foyt, and Al Unser Sr. are the icons of motorsports. When people mention that I have the possibility of joining them, I just feel honored. I’m going to work four times as hard so that I can get close to them.”

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Indianapolis 500 veteran Oriol Servia talked today about his chances of landing a ride this weekend to attempt to qualify for the 2010 Indianapolis 500.

ORIOL SERVIA: “At this point, it would be a miracle. I still have hope of money showing up. But it getting a little too late at this point.”

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A total of 45 cars are currently at the Speedway, and 45 have passed technical inspection. Thirty-seven drivers have been on the track to date and turned 1,308 laps today and 8,597 laps this month. Sebastian Saavedra turned 74 laps today, more than any other driver. There were seven cautions for a total of one hour, 36 minutes.

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SATURDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local):

6 a.m.

Public gates open

8-10 a.m.

Indianapolis 500 Practice

11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Indianapolis 500 Qualifications (Positions 1-24; Fast Nine from

4:30-6 p.m.)

6 p.m.

Track closes

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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.