By Amy Konrath
INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, May 15, 2012) – Another wild Happy Hour at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway led to the fastest speeds of the month as teams continued preparations for the 96th Indianapolis 500 Mile race.
Marco Andretti, driving the No. 26 Team RC Cola Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport, led the way with a lap of 40.2367 seconds (223.676 mph) – the fastest lap of the four days of practice.
Helio Castroneves, driving the No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet, was second with a lap of 222.025 mph and James Hinchcliffe (221.864) was third in the No. 27 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. Graham Rahal’s No. 38 Service Central Honda was fourth fastest (221.855) with Ryan Hunter-Reay fifth in the No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet (221.814).
The top 25 cars were separated by a second as teams continued working on race set-ups and simulations on the 2.5-mile oval. They’ll turn their attention May 18 to set-ups for qualifications as they’ll be afforded an extra 40-50 horsepower via turning up the boost of the turbochargers.
DAY 4 NOTEBOOK:
Tom Rossetter, from Indianapolis, was the honorary starter today. Rossetter has attended every Indianapolis 500 since 1946 except for one. He missed the 1964 race because he was building a home. Rossetter has had seats in Turn 4 since 1974.
A $100,000 purse is up for grabs among 12 IZOD IndyCar Series teams in the Indianapolis 500 Pit Stop Competition during Miller Lite Carb Day on Saturday, May 25 at IMS.
The Pit Stop Competition consists of four rounds of head-to-head competition in which teams change four tires and simulate fueling.
Unlike past years, the winning team in each round will advance by having the quickest time from drop of the green flag until the car reaches the finish line. The winning team will receive $50,000, with the remainder of the purse being distributed based on finish.
Seven entrants have qualified through their performance at 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series races following the Indianapolis 500:
No. 2 Team Penske with Ryan Briscoe
No. 3 Team Penske with Helio Castroneves
No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Scott Dixon
No. 12 Team Penske with Will Power
No. 26 Andretti Autosport with Marco Andretti
No. 27 Andretti Autosport with James Hinchcliffe
No. 50 Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Dario Franchitti
The Nos. 2, 3 and 50 will receive byes into the quarterfinals, along with either the Nos. 9 or 12 that are tied for position. A blind draw will determine the qualifier.
The remainder of the 12-car field will be filled through time trials at 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 16 at IMS.
IZOD IndyCar Series team owner-driver Ed Carpenter welcomed Butler University mascot Butler Blue II (Blue) and mascot-in-training Butler Blue III (Trip) to his garage before practice began today at IMS.
Blue has visited Carpenter’s garage area the last three years in hopes of bringing good luck to the driver, who graduated from Butler in 2003. Carpenter gave both of his canine friends Ed Carpenter Racing dog shirts during their visit today.
ED CARPENTER: “Everyone gets a kick out them coming all the time. It’s just fun to be part of the Butler family and have a connection with Blue II and now Blue III. Hopefully I can get some speed out of their visit today.”
The 40th edition of the Last Row Party is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 25 at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course pavilion. It’s an annual dinner and roast “honoring” the 11th and final row of the Indianapolis 500 starting grid.
For the 40th anniversary event, special guests such as IMSC President and CEO Jeff Belskus, IMS Historian Donald Davidson and IZOD IndyCar Series television personality/former Last Row Party emcee Bob Jenkins are scheduled to appear. Popular WFBQ “Q95″ radio disc jockey and IMS Public Address reporter Laura Steele will serve as host and emcee.
The 2012 back-row qualifiers will be awarded special jackets and checks for 31, 32 and 33 cents, respectively. Another highlight of the evening’s festivities is the Press Club Foundation’s silent auctions of one-of-a-kind racing and other sports memorabilia, vacation trips, restaurant gift cards and entertainment gift certificates.
Tickets are $50 per person, $450 for a regular table of 10 or $750 for a premium table of 10 close to “the action” and the drivers’ tables, and include entertainment, dinner, lemonade and iced tea, and three beer tickets for party-goers age 21 and older. A cash bar is also available.
The Last Row Party benefits the Indianapolis Press Club Foundation, which supports journalism students attending colleges and universities in Indiana through thousands of dollars in annual scholarship awards and creative-writing cash prizes.
Since 1973, the Last Row Party has paid tribute to the resilient drivers claiming the 31st, 32nd and 33rd spots in the Indianapolis 500 field. Many open-wheel racing legends have occupied a space in the back row of the Indianapolis 500 field, including former “500″ winners Mario Andretti, Gordon Johncock, Johnny Rutherford, Tom Sneva and Al Unser.
Tickets can be purchased online via www.indypressfoundation.org or by calling (317) 631-6400 or (317) 701-1130. American Express, Discover, Visa and MasterCard are accepted.
Former Firestone Indy Lights and Indianapolis 500 driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. impressed Emily Maynard in the season debut of the ABC show “The Bachelorette” on Monday night.
Five bachelors were sent packing the first week. Luyendyk was not among them.
Maynard, a North Carolina native who was chosen by Brad Womack on “The Bachelor” in 2011 and then had the relationship fizzle, was asked back by ABC as the one doing the choosing.
“The Bachelorette” Season 8 was filmed around the globe — North Carolina, Bermuda, England, Croatia and the Czech Republic.
The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation (SSPF) will host its 13th annual Racing to Recovery Gala on Wednesday, May 16 at the Dallara factory in Speedway, where it will honor three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford with the Legendary Driver Award.
SSPF also will recognize the efforts of the Holmatro Safety Team with the Silent Hero Award for its skill and efficiency providing trackside support at every IZOD IndyCar Series event.
Throughout the evening, guests can mingle with Indianapolis 500 greats from the past and present as well as with current IZOD IndyCar Series team owners and drivers, while raising money to support medical research and rehabilitation for those living with paralysis. The event will feature a silent and live auction, giving guests the opportunity to bid on unique racing-themed items, vacation packages, jewelry, artwork and much more.
The SSPF was started in 2000 by INDYCAR driver Sam Schmidt shortly after a testing crash left him paralyzed from the chest down.
SSPF is leading the charge to cure paralysis by funding scientific research, medical treatment, rehabilitation and technological advances benefiting those with spinal cord injuries, stroke victims and people diagnosed with ALS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. In addition to initiating local and national advocacy efforts on behalf of those disabled, SSPF also funds national “Days at the Races” and “Run, Walk ‘N Wheelathon” programs.
All four members of the iconic heavy metal band Megadeth attended today at IMS, as the iconic heavy metal band will perform tonight at the Murat Theatre in downtown Indianapolis.
Drummer Shawn Drover sent a thank-you message after the visit to Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing team, which spent time with the band.
SHAWN DROVER: “Hi, Matt, Shawn from Megadeth here. Just wanted to thank you and everybody involved the Fuzzy’s Premium Vodka team for being so cool to us. I’m a big time golfer and have been a fan of Fuzzy’s (Zoeller) for over 30 years, so that was a big thrill for me. Thanks for everything.”
Indianapolis 500 veteran and 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series veteran Tony Kanaan is racing June 6 at the Prelude To The Dream at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, joining NASCAR, NHRA and World of Outlaws stars in a Late Model dirt-track race that benefits charity.
HBO Pay-Per-View will televise the event live at 8 p.m. (ET), with net proceeds supporting Feed The Children, a U.S.-based charity thatdomestically has helped more than 365,000 families since 2009 through its Americans Feeding Americans Caravan.
Other stars racing in the Prelude include Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Bobby Labonte, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon and Danica Patrick, Kenny Wallace and Ken Schrader from NASCAR, Ron Capps and Cruz Pedregon from NHRA, and Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz from World of Outlaws.
The 2012 edition of the Prelude To The Dream includes hot laps, qualifying, heat races and a 40-lap feature with double-file “shootout style” restarts.
INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE QUOTES:
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (No. 30 Office Depot/RLL Racing Honda): “It was a really good day for us; we are making progress every day. We ran a lot of laps and made some good changes to improve the car every time. It is much better, and I am more confident with the car and with running closer to some cars. We are still not running extremely close to them, but we are making progress in every sense. I have said that this is a professional project but one that is very personal to me in many ways, and one of them is that my two oldest kids are coming to the race. They weren’t old enough to fully understand it before, but the two oldest are now. Silvia is 3, and this will be too much for her. But Michel and Marco, who are 7 and 5 years old, can’t wait. Every day they ask me, ‘How many days until we come?’ The other day I told them, ‘It’s 15 days,’ and they said, ‘I thought you said 14 yesterday.’ They are really, really excited about coming. We are making small suits like my driving suit for them. It is going to be a lot of fun.”
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus HVM Racing Lotus): “It was a pretty good day. It was good to run today and improve on things. We have a lot of work on the engine side, but we just need to go through the program. I’m looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): “I think it’s nice to have some friends out there to be able to play around with on the track. It just gives us some good information to work off of as we move forward this week. With this new car, we have a couple things we still need to sort out in terms in how the car feels in race trim and how it’s going to last over a stint. What we’ve seen here is that you’re going to have a hell of a time pulling away from anybody, so chances are pretty good that you’re going to be in traffic for long stints during the race. The National Guard Panther guys have been working hard all week at trying to figure that out.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): “We did more of our own thing today. We also got to step through some qualifying stuff, which was good. With limited running, we won’t be as high on the time sheets as we have been previous days, but that’s fine. We’re not going to be the quickest every day. We’ll just pick back up tomorrow. We’ve got a new engine going in tonight. The Honda engine has been strong so far, and I’m sure it will continue to be a powerful unit all the way through the month.”
BRYAN CLAUSON (No. 39 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing/RW Honda): (About turning six laps today): “The car had good speed by itself, and we were pretty happy with what it did in those six laps. We were very encouraged with some of the changes we made overnight. Hopefully we’ll keep gaining in the next few days.” (About watching heavy traffic during Happy Hour): “When you have the interest of being out there in the next few days, you really pay attention to how fast or how late you can pull out when guys make their moves. You pay attention to the timing of everything on the track. Hopefully in the next few days, we get out there and do some race running and get to feel it ourselves.
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “We had a late start today and then went through a list of mechanical things we wanted to try on the No. 9 car. I didn’t really like the changes we made to the car, but I found a balance I liked at the end of the day. We ran old tires today. We didn’t really run in traffic and didn’t get any tows, so overall an average day for the Target team.”
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 50 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It was a very busy day for the No.50 team today. We ran a ton of laps today and got a lot done. We tried a lot of different things to try and find our way around this new car a little bit. Some worked and some didn’t, so we’ll keep going tomorrow with the goal of running a bit more with our teammates in a group at some point. Not a bad day.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “It was way better than yesterday’s car here. It’s been a bad day, a good day, a bad day and pretty good day today. We did get a lot of things done today. We are making progress now with the car. We have been trying so much stuff with the new DW12. We didn’t make the car perfect today, but I was pleased with the direction we are going now. We did a good job figuring out what we need for the future here. We exposed some issues with the car that will help in the next couple of days. Now we need to come up with a good plan overnight so we get closer to the fastest guys. We just need to fix all of the things we uncovered today. I’m sure we can do it this week.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet): “We had a good day in the IZOD car working on the race setup. We were running in a lot of traffic out there, maybe even busier than it normally would be in the race, but I was getting a really good feel for what this car is going to handle like come next Sunday. But until then, we are going to keep on learning.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet): “The Shell Pennzoil car felt great today. We worked some more on the race setup, and toward the end we were able to get a good draft. Always good to put up a fast time, and we will continue to work hard to get things where they need to be.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): “It was a pretty reasonable day for the GoDaddy car. We went out early and had some reasonable speed on our own and then focused on the race (setup) from there on out. We’re running in bigger and bigger packs now and learning more about this car because it’s still so unknown in a proper race condition, but you can see by the end of the day where everyone has the same mindset compared to last year. We’re running a lot more in traffic earlier in the week than we were (last year), and it’s just a function of everybody working to figure out what the car will do on Race Day. We have three cars in the top five, so we’re clearly reasonable in traffic and on our own with a couple cars, so we’ll just keep chipping away at it.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The Verizon car was really good today. We mostly worked on race setup and also got the chance to see what it’s like running behind a bunch of cars. It was another day of collecting information, and we feel good about where we are.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team RC Cola Chevrolet): “I’m really pleased with where we are at with the race car so far. I have just been really working on the car in a pack, and just trying to stay flat in traffic. We have the car to the point now that I am confident to say we would be the ones to beat if the race was today. The speed on its own, I’m a little concerned about. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, if we start 33rd, we can still win this race.” (About differences in handling between new car and older car): “Indy with the old cars, when you think you have those things so maxed out and perfected, you roll them off the next day … You’ll see tomorrow. It might be a big challenge for me because that is Indianapolis for you in the month of May. You just have to be ready. It is like starting over tomorrow, and we’re prepared for it. I’m not expecting to roll this car off tomorrow and set the world on fire. We just have to keep working like everybody else. The new car, it still has four wheels, man. It’s still a race car. A lot of things are similar. The big thing has been working with Chevy, and it has been great. It has been a lot of fun. We’ve made great strides, and I am so proud of them with this little deficit we might have been up against. I don’t think it is going to be a big deal, but we’ll see.” (About teammate James Hinchcliffe): “He’s a hell of a kid. He’s in the championship run right now. That’s what’s it is all about. You have to be relaxed enough to have fun but still get the job done. He’s able to do both of those things. The three of us, well the five of us here, it’s been great. We’re an oiled machine so far. But, like I said, it is Indianapolis, and we are prepared to start over tomorrow.” (About tires during the race): “I think so. A little bit. Firestone does such a great job, but it is going to be very hot. It is going to be a challenge. It is going to be the same for everybody, and it is the same old story. How much grip can you have in the car versus where’s it going to be at the start of the stint versus the end. You try to get away with as skimpy as you can without being too skimpy at the end of a stint.” (About differences in drafting this year compared to previous years): “These things, it is just obvious looking at them, they poke a huge hole in the air. I think it is going to be great for the fans, man. I don’t think anybody is going to be able to lead for more than a couple of laps because the leader is just a sitting duck. You get such a great tow. There is going to be a lot of passing. The thing I am concerned about is the last minute because what happens is you get a decent tow, but then that last couple of car lengths, it really sucks you in, so a lot of guys are going to be, ‘No, I can’t get him, can’t get him’. Then they are going to feel that, and they are going to be doing last-minute dive-bombs. That will be interesting, but you just have to be heads-up. That’s all.” (About help from teammates): “We might give our teammates a couple of extra inches, but we want to beat them, too. It is going to be hectic. Right place, right time. Trying to stay out of trouble. It is 500 miles, so that is the game plan the first three-quarters of the race. From there, hopefully you are in a position to charge. It helps. It definitely helps because you know can trust them and stuff like that, but we’re still, each and every one of us wants to win the Indianapolis 500.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL SunDrop Citrus Soda Chevrolet): “It was another productive day for the DHL/Sun Drop crew and the whole Andretti team. We worked together as a group, and I think we found some good speed. The good thing about the Andretti Autosport cars is we’re up toward the top when we’re running alone and up toward the top when we’re in a pack. Things are going as planned, and we still have a long week to go. I’d say we’re 90 percent focused on the race and 10 percent on qualifying at the moment, and that will change on Friday, but right now we’re focused on race setup.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central Honda): “It was great for us, particularly coming off the last couple of days. We felt the car was good all along; we just couldn’t figure out where the speed was. We put a new Honda engine in it last night, and boom. Pretty pleased with the car today. The Service Central guys have been working really hard, and we got to run with a bit of traffic in the end. It was incredibly hectic, but I don’t know. Maybe a sign of things to come. We’ll see what happens in the race. As Marco (Andretti) said, these things punch such a big hole. It’s so easy to get a massive tow. I got behind (Alex) Tagliani for a few laps, and I just didn’t have a gear big enough. We thought we were geared too long. For sure, they suck up quite a lot.” (About running in packs): “To me, it was almost a little too much for a day like today. I got a good run put up there early, and I had a couple of more I could have put up there that would have been better than that, but there were a lot of bold moves out there, especially for a practice session, that’s for sure. The other problem was, I jumped up there at the front of the line, and I’d lift to let everyone by and they’d all lift. What do you do? No one wanted to lead. I don’t think there’s an advantage to having a four-car or five-car team because everyone is running together. Everyone is out there. We ran with the Rahal Letterman guys, with (Simon) Pagenaud and the Schmidt guys. I don’t think I ran with my teammates at all today. That’s the main thing. Everyone is trying to work together to figure these cars out, but today was a little wild. That’s what happens in Happy Hour. Everyone wants to go for it.” (About turbo increase for the weekend): “You will be going into the corners 10 mph faster, or whatever it’s going to be. We expect the boost change to be a 4-5 mph lap average speed difference. That’s a lot. That’s a big change. Hopefully the handling won’t change too much because we’ve worked hard to get out car where’s it’s comfortable and fast. But I would think it would be a little bit different.” (Would it be a different race if they left the boost for the race?): “To be honest with you, I think it’s going to be a hell of a race. More boost, no boost. Whatever. I think there has been great racing this year. Here, as we saw today, it’s hard to lead. I think I have one of the fastest cars on my own, and we never tried to do a qual sim. But it’s still hard. You can do 218, 219 on your own, but I think I gave Marco his lap. I had a tow, and I saw him suck up on me. Those guys were only running a 215 when they were in front of me, but they tow up to a 221 or 222. It’s hard to stay up front. I think the race will be pretty wild. I don’t think it matters about boost.”
MIKE CONWAY (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “We’ve been improving every day in terms of car balance and feel and slowly picking up speed. I don’t think we are quite as trimmed out as the others. Hopefully there’s still some time in our pocket that we need to explore tomorrow. We’re still figuring out this car as much as we can before we need to start going fast, I suppose. The good weather has enabled us to do that. (Are you nervous not to have posted big speed yet?): “Yeah, it does, but until we try, really try to see what we have, then we’ll know a bit more. There’s a good 3 mile an hour we need to get to be looking at a top-10 speed, I think.”
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 41 ECat/ABC Supply Honda): “We made a few improvements later in the day. We lost some time earlier with a mechanical issue with the car that we didn’t catch until three runs in, so that was unfortunate because tires and miles are so valuable. We improved the car a little bit and the speed, but it doesn’t really show in the time chart because the draft is so important to get a good time, and we were under-geared, so we just ran out of gearing. So basically what we ran in a draft is only slightly better than what we could run by ourselves. I think that’s why Mike and I were so close on the timesheets because we’ve got the same gear, so we’re stuck at roughly the same speed. A relatively good day, a bit more positive than yesterday, and I don’t think where we are on the speed chart reflects the progress we’ve made. But that’s why it’s only practice, and it doesn’t count.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): “We keep saying we had another productive day, but that is the case. The warm weather and light wind made for stable conditions, which made it easy to evaluate some aerodynamic things that we carried over from yesterday. Then we moved on to our race setup, and it was good to see progress. In the end, I was able to run in traffic and see how the car felt, and everything felt good. We will keep working on this tomorrow.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): “Running in traffic is definitely something else. It changes the balance of the car through the corner a lot more than I’m used to. So it’s a matter of playing with the tools in the car and getting used to that. It’s definitely not easy to learn how to play the momentum game. But I think we did a good job. We have a very good race car, and I feel very confident with it. I could stay with Helio and the Penske boys, and we stayed with Dario when he was doing some pretty quick lap times. So we’re in the ballpark, but I’m going to be learning every day.”
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 BraunAbility-Schmidt Pelfrey Motorsports Honda): (Is Race Day going to resemble last 30 minutes of practice today): “That, and a whole lot more. That was a good chance to really find out what it’s going to be like on Race Day. And I think it’s going to be busy. It’s going to be busy, meaning the drivers are really going to have to work, which is good. I’m glad that we got a good indication of what it’s going to be like this early on in the week so we can look at a lot of data and make some educated guesses on how to improve.” (About the effect on track of no rain this week): “Deep in your tire run, you’re starting to slide around pretty good and a lot more than I expected. That’s going to contribute to a great race, and for now, it’s going to make us think pretty hard on where we want to be on setup.”
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 25 Team Ipiranga Chevrolet): “I think that we made some improvements today. We still do not have the speed that we wish we had. We will have a long night researching everything so that we can make sure we have the same speed as my other teammates tomorrow. Thanks to my Ipiranga team for all of their hard work.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 Team AFS Chevrolet): “Today was very different from the other days we have had here. We saved miles and tires because we have been running a lot since Opening Day. Today we decided to practice our pit stops a lot and went out for a traffic run with my teammates, but we didn’t do a lot of laps. It was nice to see my teammates do well out there. They learned some important things that I would like to test tomorrow, so it will be nice to work together. It is going to be a busy day for the AFS Racing crew.”
RUBENS BARRICHELLO (No. 8 BMC/Embrase KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “We are still trying different things but just can’t find the speed. However, what was good today was learning to run in traffic, which I haven’t really been able to do much of, and working out my lines. We have another day of practice tomorrow, so we will see what it brings.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 GEICO/Mouser Electronics KVRT Chevrolet): “Today was a good day. We concentrated more on race setup and got a feel for the car when running in traffic. Hopefully tomorrow will be like today.”
E.J. VISO (No. 5 CITGO/PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “It was a really tough day today. Many of the things we tried today didn’t produce the results we wanted. The plan right now is to go back to the setup we had yesterday and start from there. I am confident we will come up with a solution. We just have to keep working hard, and good things will happen.”
A total of 35 cars are at the Speedway, with 35 passing technical inspection. Thirty-one drivers have been on the track to date and turned 1,602 laps today and 4,632 laps this month. James Jakes turned 100 laps today, most of any driver. There were five cautions for a total of 45 minutes today.
WEDNESDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local):
Indianapolis 500 practice
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Indianapolis 500 Mile on May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be televised by ABC at 11a.m. (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network on SiriusXM (XM 94 and Sirius 212). The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 25 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be televised live by NBC Sports Network at Noon (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network.