From Amy Konrath
INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, May 14, 2011) – How appropriate for Opening Day of the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 that a veteran, a champion and a rookie topped the speed chart.
On a day cut short 45 minutes because of showers, Ed Carpenter was quickest of the 32 entrants to get on the 2.5-mile oval with a lap of 224.786 mph (40.0380 seconds). Scott Dixon, the 2008 race winner and IZOD IndyCar Series champion, was second in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car and JR Hildebrand, who was quickest in breezing through the Rookie Orientation Program on May 12, was third (224.433 mph).
There were 669 laps recorded without incident. Second day track activity, with a more favorable weather forecast, commences at noon May 15.
Reigning Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti (224.107) was fourth in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, and 2006 race runner-up Marco Andretti (223.927) was fifth in the No. 26 Team Venom car for Andretti Autosport.
Whether shaking down their primary or backup cars, working on running in traffic or seeing how quick they were off the truck, drivers enjoyed the work on the oval. For full-time competitors, their previous track time has been on four road and street courses.
Carpenter, competing in his first IZOD IndyCar Series event of the season – and first for Sarah Fisher Racing in the No. 67 Dollar General car – has a best start of eighth (2010) and finish of eighth (2009) in seven starts. Of course, Carpenter, stepson of Indy Racing League founder Tony George, covets a victory in the ‘500’ more than any other.
“It’s only day one, but it’s really exciting to see hard work pay off and see progress,” he said. “We’re going to have to keep up the effort because it’s a long week heading into qualifying, but I definitely like the start that we’re off to.”
Added Fisher, a nine-time Indy 500 starter who announced her retirement from the race car in November: “I was really proud of the boys for starting the month off with little to no error. It was a bonus for Ed to top the charts, but we know we still have a lot more work to accomplish. For this being our first race of the season, we know we have to hit the ground running, and to see the team gelling already is a great testament to our people.”
Other notable Opening Day speeds were posted by 2009 race runner-up Vitor Meira (seventh at 223.192); Paul Tracy (11th at 222.295), who didn’t qualify for the 2010 race; Danica Patrick (12th at 222.232) and 2004 race winner Buddy Rice (14th at 221.461), who’s returned to the track for the first time since 2008.
DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:
Firestone Firehawk race tire facts for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500:
•Firestone Racing returns to Indianapolis in 2011 with the same tire specification as 2010.
•A full-month entry receives 33 sets (132 tires), and a partial-month entry receives 26 sets (108 tires) for all of practice, qualifying and the race. Rookie Orientation Program participants receive an additional four sets (16 tires) for that session only; veteran refreshers receive two additional sets (eight tires) that must be returned before practice Monday, May 16. More than 5,000 tires in all are available.
•Tire stagger: A single stagger of approximately .30 of an inch is available. Stagger, created by molding the right rear tire with a larger diameter than the left rear, helps race cars turn more naturally and smoothly on oval tracks.
AL SPEYER (Executive Director, Firestone Racing): “The Indianapolis 500 is the race we most eagerly await each season, but we are anticipating this year’s even more with the centennial anniversary of this great event. We take immense pride in knowing that Firestone tires carried Ray Harroun to victory in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 a century ago, and that Firestone Racing still plays a pivotal role in the sport a hundred years later. Come May 29, we know that whoever takes the checkered flag first will do it on Firehawk tires and become Firestone’s 62nd Indy 500 champion. It’s a win total more than all other tire makers combined and powerful proof of the legacy that the Firestone brand has maintained through the years. For ‘The Most Important Race in History,’ we are supplying the identical Firestone tire specification that was used in 2010 and received such wide praise from teams and drivers last May. With the entire racing world watching on this historic occasion, we want to provide a proven tire that will do its part to help make this landmark Indianapolis 500 even more memorable. Firestone wishes the best to all of this year’s competitors and congratulates Indianapolis Motor Speedway on its centennial milestone.”
Six rookies assigned to cars for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 passed all four phases of the Rookie Orientation Program on Thursday, May 12: JR Hildebrand, James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball, Pippa Mann, Scott Speed and Ho-Pin Tung.
James Jakes completed three of the four phases and can finish the test during practice this week.
Jay Howard only needs to complete a refresher test – the final two phases of Rookie Orientation – because passed the Rookie Orientation Program in 2008 and participated in 2010 Indianapolis 500 qualifying.
The Rookie Orientation Program consists of turning consistent laps at four speed phases on the 2.5-mile asphalt oval. Drivers must turn five consistent laps at 200-205 mph, and 10 consistent laps at each of these three speed phases: 205-210, 210-215 and 215 or faster.
Window World, sponsor of the No. 43 Andretti Autosport car driven by John Andretti, today unveiled “The Stinger,” a 2011 concept show car that pays tribute to the 1911 Marmon Wasp, winner of the inaugural Indianapolis 500, and the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500. The No. 100 “Stinger” features a yellow-and-black color scheme taken directly from the Marmon Wasp. It will be on display all month in the MotoGP garage area near Gasoline Alley.
The Window World Cares charitable foundation has invited each of the race’s former starters to autograph the car. For each signature, Window World Cares will make a donation of support. Since its creation, Window World Cares has raised more than $1.6 million for St. Jude Research Hospital.
JOHN ANDRETTI: “The whole project came about in conversations about the 100th anniversary, how we could pay tribute to the drivers who have participated. Actually, it became an idea when I got a letter from Mari Hulman George about the past drivers that are still living and coming back for the Indy 500 for this anniversary. I think it’s just great Window World has wrapped their arms around it, the centennial year, as much as they have. With the retro paint scheme on the 43 as well as the ‘Stinger’ program and raising money through a great cause through Window World Cares, I think it’s awesome. Already they’ve raised quite a bit of money because of all the drivers’ signatures at Andretti Autosport, including my cousin (team owner Michael Andretti).”
Pruett Vineyard, in collaboration with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is proud to announce a Limited Edition Napa Cabernet Sauvignon celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
The centennial Indy 500 logo is prominently placed on the front label, making this a cherished collector’s item of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
Pruett Vineyard produces small lot, handcrafted wine, with great attention to detail and quality. 1989 Indianapolis 500 co-Rookie of the Year Scott Pruett is involved in every aspect as owner and vintner.
Scott and Judy Pruett will present a Magnum bottle of this Pruett Indy 500 wine, showcased in a beautiful lacquered etched wooden box, to each of the 33 team owners qualifying for the 100th running.
For more information, visit www.pruettvineyard.com.
SCOTT PRUETT: “We wanted to give this gift to the owners as a thank you, and homage to past and future team owners, for bringing this gold standard of motorsports to all of us. It’s absolutely overwhelming to think about the history of this great race, and to be involved at any level is truly an honor. With its rich history and cherished memories, there is really nothing in the world quite like the Indy 500. I am so excited and honored to be involved at this level in the Centennial Era.”
FIRST ON TRACK, 1984-2010
Did Not Qualify
Dr. Jack Miller
Ludwig Heimrath Jr.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard was the honorary starter today, waving the green flag to start the first practice for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500.
GREG BALLARD: “They were side by side by side by side like a front row coming down the straightaway. It was a lot of fun. I will leave Race Day (start) in the hands of the professionals. We’re very lucky to be here for the 100th anniversary because a lot of people are going to be reminiscing about all the events that have gone on before here. Also we have the new chassis to look forward to. And there is a lot of excitement as to what the new cars will look like. This is a great time to celebrate the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the longevity of this race going forward. I always tell people around the world that there is nothing like the month of May in Indianapolis, and I mean that. This is an unbelievable month that really brings the city together. Everybody enjoys it. It’s a great event on Race Day, and they memorialize those veterans who did not come back from serving this county. Obviously, the Speedway does it right.”
IZOD IndyCar Series fan Greg Nemeth won a Graham watch with an estimated retail value of $7,000-$8,000 through an online contest promoted by Target Chip Ganassi Driver Scott Dixon.
Nemeth, from Greenwood, Ind., won by correctly picking the top three finishers of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama last month. Dixon has been very active with social media this season and promoted the contest, hosted on his website, via Twitter. Dixon presented Nemeth with the watch this morning at the Speedway.
GREG NEMETH: “I’ve been following IndyCar forever, but he (Dixon) mentioned his contest on Twitter. The first time I tried, I won. It felt pretty good. I picked Scott to finish second. I didn’t think I’d win, but I guess I did. I feel bad about not picking Scott to finish first, but I won.”
SCOTT DIXON: (About the contest): “I’ve actually had it for three years, and nobody’s ever won. Then, Barber (Motorsports Park) race weekend, we had three winners. Greg was the first one to pick it and was the lucky winner.” (About becoming very involved with social media this year): “I think it’s a nice way to interact. I think the biggest hold-out (on getting involved with Twitter) was my wife, because she said I was already on my phone way too much. Adding Twitter to that was going to double my time. It’s a lot of fun, especially now when 99 percent of the drivers all do it. Viral media, things like Twitter, Facebook and all the others, there’s a huge connection to the fans. If you can interact more, it’s going to make (the sport) more popular.”
After a banner 2010 that included a sweep of the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400 and Daytona 500, Chip Ganassi and his organization are among the nominees at the Fourth Annual Sports Business Awards on Wednesday, May 18 in New York.
Ganassi is the first race team executive to be nominated for Sports Executive of the Year, and Chip Ganassi Racing Teams is the second race team to receive a Professional Sports Team of the Year nomination.
The awards, given by Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal, honor excellence in sports business.
Legendary Indianapolis 500 team owner Roger Penske will be honored with the Legends of Racing Award at the 12th annual Racing to Recovery Gala presented by The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation (SSPF) on Wednesday, May 18.
The gala is taking place at D’Amore Events, located atop the Chase Bank Building at 111 Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis.
Penske Racing has won a record 15 Indianapolis 500’s. Penske joins an illustrious list of Legends of Racing Award winners, including Rick Mears, Parnelli Jones, Arie Luyendyk, Mario Andretti and Michael Andretti.
Throughout the evening, guests will have the opportunity to mingle with Indianapolis 500 greats from the past and present and current IZOD IndyCar Series team owners and drivers, while raising money to support medical research, rehabilitation and quality-of-life programs 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.
SSPF was started in 2000 by INDYCAR driver Sam Schmidt shortly after a practice 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.
For ticket information, contact email@example.com or call (317) 236-9999.
Rockford Fosgate, the industry leader in high-performance car audio systems, is joining forces with Paul Tracy, who will debut the Rockford Fosgate logo at the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29 while driving the No. 23 WIX Filters/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry.
PAUL TRACY: “I’m really excited to partner with such a great audio brand like Rockford Fosgate and look forward to supporting all of their products this season. I’ve been a fan of their high-performance equipment for some time now, and I’m honored they would allow me to be their brand ambassador in motorsports. I look forward to outfitting my classic ’64 Riviera and ’51 Mercury with some of the coolest Rockford Fosgate car audio amps and speakers.”
BILL JACKSON (CEO and president, Rockford Corporation): “Paul embodies the Rockford Fosgate lifestyle. He leads an active life, enjoys music and all things motorized. We’re excited to have Paul in the Rockford Fosgate family.”
Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti spoke about the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: (About importance of the 100th Anniversary): “Yeah, it’s always exciting being here getting ready for the month. But this year is extra special, being the 100th year, so there is some extra incentive to do well. It would be great to be the winning team on the 100th Anniversary, and I can tell you all of us are real excited to get going.” (What would it mean for an Andretti to win the 100th Anniversary race?): “I honestly cannot put it into words. It would be real emotional if that were to happen, I can tell you that.”
Tom Hansing, one of the Indianapolis 500 starters in the flag stand, talked about the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500.
TOM HANSING: “It’s a big morning, the 100th Anniversary of the ‘500,’ and I feel real great to be a part of it. I owe a lot to Bryan Howard, the chief starter on Race Day. He brought me in to the series about 10 years ago, and here we are. I started out with the United States Auto Club and still work with them and fill in with the IZOD IndyCar Series.” (Is it hard not to just sit back and watch?): “It is. Particularly on Race Day, when 33 cars come thundering down on you. It’s just a feeling you can’t explain to someone who has not been up there.”
Indianapolis 500 veteran Sarah Fisher retired as a driver last fall to concentrate on ownership of Sarah Fisher Racing. She and her husband, Andy O’Gara, also are starting a family. Their first child is due Sept. 29.
Fisher made nine “500” starts between 2000-10.
SARAH FISHER: (About her pregnancy): “I’m out of racing shape, that’s for sure. I had to stop working out in October, and they don’t make maternity seat belts. But I’m very happy. It is an exciting time, especially to have Ed Carpenter driving for us because he is the perfect fit. He matches the brand, and no doubt that he has a strong performance record here at Indy. So I’m excited about the Race Day and the 100th Anniversary in general.” (Is hard to be not racing?): “No, it depends on how much fun you’re having and who you have driving for you, and with Ed’s family and his wife, Heather, they have already done a lot of work with us for our Laps for Literacy program, so it has just been really fun. I can’t wait to see how it goes on track, and I’m sure it will be a perfect fit.”
Willy T. Ribbs, who became the first African-American starter in the Indianapolis 500 in 1991, is visiting the track this week. Ribbs announced Thursday he has formed a Firestone Indy Lights team to help another African-American driver achieve his dream.
In partnership with Starting Grid, Inc. principal Chris Miles, Ribbs has formed Willy T. Ribbs Racing to campaign 21-year-old Chase Austin in the 2011 Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Austin will take the wheel of the Willy T. Ribbs Racing/ Starting Grid Inc./Brooks Associates Racing entry in May 27 race, the premier event on the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights schedule. With sponsorship support from American Honda Motor Company, Inc., the car carries No. 75 in homage to Ribbs’ car number when driving for comedian Bill Cosby in 1993 and 1994.
Austin, much like his team owner, is no stranger to setting new benchmarks as he works his way up the racing ladder. Born in Eudora, Kan., he spent his formative years competing in anything from tiny 900-pound midgets to intimidating, 700-horsepower dirt late-models. By age 15, Austin was the youngest driver ever to sign a developmental contract in NASCAR, with the Hendrick Motorsports team. He made history again in 2007 with Rusty Wallace Racing, becoming the first African-American driver to compete in a Nationwide Series oval event; highlighted by a sixth-place finish at Dover International Speedway. Austin has spent the past two seasons competing in the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series.
WILLY T. RIBBS: “It was a great announcement to make because it is great to be back at Indy. The irony — my 20th anniversary of qualifying here and then this being the 100th anniversary for the race –the timing could not have been better.” (On the moment he came down pit lane after qualifying in 1991 and slapping hands): “It was a moment that was totally unplanned. I had no plan to do that, and as I was coming down pit lane I was worried about hitting people who were coming out to greet me with my wheel, so I had to come halfway out to the cockpit so I could reach their hands, and it was just a great moment – totally unplanned.” (About the “500”): “Indianapolis is the biggest race on the planet, and it not only is it a great race it’s the biggest sporting event in the world. There is no race that can come close to it – nothing can even touch it.”
More than 250 classic cars were on display today at IMS during the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 Celebration of Automobiles.
Many of these machines have won awards in Concours d’Elegance competition at such venues as Pebble Beach and Amelia Island.
The cars participating in the Celebration were divided into two divisions, one a general collection and the other presenting for the first time anywhere classic cars produced by the 24 manufacturers that competed in the first Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 1911.
A team of judges will reveal its choices for the best of show in several categories tonight at the elegant Condon-Skelly Celebration of Automobiles dinner, where several exquisite trophies will be presented to winning car owners. 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones heads the judging panel, with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford and 1985 “500” winner Danny Sullivan also serving as judges.
PARNELLI JONES: (On judging the Celebration of Automobiles): “First of all, it’s the 100th anniversary and to have over 200 cars come to the track to be a part of it is something really nice. You only have one 100th anniversary, and this event, along with all the race cars on the track, is a great way to start. It was very tough to pick one individual wining car. But between myself, Rutherford and Sullivan, we boiled it down to one top choice. And overall, I think we’re making a great comeback here.” (On the centennial celebration and the Month of May): “I think it’s definitely going to be a pumped-up year. Everybody’s excited about it. I know I am. I’m fortunate enough to be able to drive the 1911 winning Marmon Wasp on Race Day, and I’m very excited for it. I think the guy who wins this race is going to have extra stamp on his back, for sure. It’s going to be great. It can’t be any better.” (On being back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): “I come back every year. It’s a reunion for me. Once you’re a past winner, I think you feel like you are part of the Speedway. It’s ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’ and it has a great history. I get to have the honor of being a part of that.”
Quotes from selected participants:
REED TARWATER (Greenwood, Ind., 1933 MG J2 Roadster): “This is, by far and away, the largest and best auto show I have ever been to, and I have gone to a lot of shows. I’ve been to great shows at Meadowbrook and Hilton Head, but this is the best one I have ever attended. There is a car owner here today that made the trip from London (England) to come to this show. Living here in Indianapolis – it’s ‘the track.’ We’ve been coming here for years, but for other people that have never been here before, it’s a big deal to come and see this. Yesterday, we were able to drive around the track, and it was a great treat for a lot of these people.”
JAN TARWATER (Greenwood, Ind., 1933 MG J2 Roadster): “This is a great event today. We’ve even been to the prestigious Pebble Beach show. It is top-notch, but this show today has the widest range of beautiful, beautiful cars I have ever seen.”
KEN CLARK (Pittsfield, Maine, 1929 Cord L-29 Cabriolet): “I just thought it would be a neat thing. I’ve never been to the Indianapolis 500 before, and I just thought it would be a good place to go. So that was the real reason. But with the invitation and then the application and then the acceptance, I thought (the opportunity) was cool. I like race cars, but I’m not a race car fan. I don’t watch them, but I like to promote cars. And what better way to promote cars than at a racetrack?”
JOHN KELSEY (Camdenton, Mo., 1914 Stutz): “The car has returned home where the car was first built (Stutz was built in Indianapolis). I drove it in 1952 here around the Speedway as part of the Studebaker Centennial Celebration Tour. And now we are celebrating another centennial, the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500. I had the privilege of circling the track then and also circled it Friday. My father (Paul Kelsey) bought the car from its previous owners in Iowa in 1951. The car remained in storage from 1917 to 1951, and now it is here at the Speedway.”
FASTEST TIMES/SPEEDS OF PRACTICE:
* — Rookie
INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE QUOTES:
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “Today was short and sweet, as we only turned four laps at speed. Always great to be back at IMS. Team Target prepped the cars to their usual high standard. Early days, but I can’t wait to get back in the car tomorrow.”
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 07 Team REDLINE Xtreme – Circle K): “We still have a lot of work to do. It’s going to be a long month. As everybody knows, there’s a lot of competitive people out there. So far just for one run, I think the car’s good. We’ve definitely got a good base to work from.” (On the influence the forecast can have on the team’s plan.): “Actually, we’re on the shorter engine program, so for us it’s not that much of a problem. We’ve got a certain amount of tires that we have to run through. We’re about seven (sets) behind what the full-time guys get. For us, rain is good because it doesn’t allow them to get so much more running in than what I would. And I’ve got a lot of experience around here, so for me it was straight out the pits, and I was flat out. I could get a good feel.” (On his confidence this year with a new team): “The confidence level is always high. For me, it’s high because I love this track. I love this place. I love the Month of May. But certainly we’ve worked a little bit on the setup. But we probably need to take a couple more steps for it to be 100 percent comfortable.”
JAMES JAKES (No. 18 Acorn Starilifts): “It was pretty easy today. It’s my first time at Indy and my first time on an oval. We’re still running a lot of downforce, so we’re driving around and just learning the ropes. We have a lot of testing to do, go through all the stuff with my teammates, and I’m just taking my time. It will be good at the end of the day to look at all the data. It will be a long week. We can do a good job; we just have to be patient. Alex (Lloyd) has been here before, and he’s given me very good advice. Hopefully, we’ll feed off each other.”
MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Hire Heroes USA/7-Eleven/Dr Pepper): “It felt great. Obviously, it’s been a while since we were here. All the drivers are always excited coming back to Indy. It’s great to get out and turn some fairly quick laps. All in all, it was just a shakedown with the T car today. You know, it’s just good to see all the fans out here today. I’m sure it will get busier and busier as the days go on.” (On his comfort level after being involved in the crash last year): “Yeah, it’s great to be back out and working with the all Andretti guys and seeing what the car feels like around here. The car felt good. We’ve just got to keep chipping away. We’ve got a long week, so no rush.”
BUDDY RICE (No. 44 Panther Racing): “I feel good, and I’m happy to be back. Everything is going pretty well. I’m excited to be back here. I wanted to make sure I’d be in good equipment, and the Panther crew has run really well here recently. It’s a great opportunity for me. I’m excited for the centennial. The centennial only comes around once, and there won’t be anything like this for quite a long time, so I’m glad to be a part of it.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central): “Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing had a great day. We didn’t run very long today, and the laps we did turn were very conservative. The No. 38 Service Central Honda is faster than we anticipated for the first time out at IMS, so we are in great shape. I’m looking forward to getting back out on the track tomorrow.”
PIPPA MANN (No. 36 Conquest Racing): “The goal for today was just to go out and get some solid running in. We got through the Rookie Orientation Program on Thursday, but we didn’t get to do any testing. So today was about picking up where we left off, getting solidly up to speed and starting to work on the car – all of which we did. We’re about halfway up the speed charts at the moment, and there’s plenty more to come. We’ve got loads of aero on the car at the moment; we’re being super-conservative. We’ve got a couple of little handling gremlins going on, but once we fix those and wipe the aero off, I think we’re looking OK. I’m pleased with where we’ve ended up after day one. The weather is going to play a huge part this week, but it always does here in Indianapolis, and it’s the same for everyone. Obviously, it’s not easy when you’re a rookie. One of the difficult things about being a rookie here at IMS is that the track changes all of the time, and it doesn’t always change consistently and go in the same direction. You’re never really quite sure what you’re going to get, and as a rookie, I’m going through all of this for the first time. In terms of driving experience, Sebastian and I are a young team with no veterans to help us out, so losing out on running time will have an impact on us. However, it’s up to us to make sure that it doesn’t have a big impact, and we do the very best we can with what we’ve got.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): “It was a perfect day for the Telemundo team. It was trouble-free, and we did exactly what we wanted, and the car felt really good. It’s hard to know where we stand compared to everybody, especially being the first day and everyone is running different downforce levels. We just have to base our judgment on how the car feels, and the car feels good, so we are happy. This place is one that you always have to treat with respect. I had all sorts of nightmares last night because I think I was nervous. But the car felt great from the first lap. It’s a great place to be.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): “We really wanted to work on the rain setup today, so it was pretty convenient that the weather cooperated. Just kidding! Today was all about getting up to speed and running with the full field for the first day because, obviously, with Rookie Orientation there are only seven cars on track. We started really conservative because we should have a lot of track time. We started peeling off a little bit of downforce slowly but surely. We orchestrated a little bit of traffic running with Oriol, which was good; it was certainly good practice for me. Everybody is going good so far. The car has been really stable, and we’re feeling really confident. Oriol got a bit more work done this afternoon before the rain started to come, so we’ll look over what he got done. I think we are heading in the right direction, and we’re on a good plan of being cautious over the week but then being there when it counts for qualifying.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3T Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske): “The plan today for the Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra car was to just stay consistent and run through our list of equipment on the T car. We were able to do that today, so we stuck to the plan. Hopefully tomorrow, we’ll get a chance to run in the primary car and continue working our game plan.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6T IZOD Team Penske): “It was a great first day in the No. 6T IZOD Team Penske car at the Speedway today. It’s definitely fun to be running at more than 220 mph – it’s been a long time since we’ve felt that exhilaration. It feels really comfortable being back at Indy, and I’m excited to get more laps in this week.”
WILL POWER (No. 12T Verizon Team Penske): “The No. 12T Verizon Team Penske car was good today. We really didn’t run too much by design. Today was more of a shakedown for us, just easing our way into our time here at the Brickyard. It did feel good to get back on track at the Speedway; it’s such an awesome place. Hopefully, we will have the chance to get on track tomorrow and continue working.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 34 Conquest Racing): “It wasn’t the way we wanted to start. We expected to run a lot more laps, but in the end this is how racing goes. The guys have put an amazing amount of effort to put the car together and make it as aerodynamic as it can be. So I’m very pleased with how it looks and how it’s going to perform. We had a little inconvenience today that kept us from getting as much track time as we were looking for, but it’s a long week and we are looking forward to making it happen tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. The car feels great. We just need to get some more track time.”
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 Herbalife Schmidt Pelfrey Racing): “I’d like to be out there, but we have a few more little things to do. We don’t want to rush it. We want to make sure we have the absolute best piece possible. It’s hard for a driver to sit on a day like today, but we’ll be ready to go tomorrow. It’s really nice to have Gerald (Tyler) around and, and I really like working with Allen McDonald, as well . There’s a comfort level there. Everybody’s itching to start getting to work.”
ALEX LLOYD (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America): “The balance on the car is fantastic; it’s the most well-balanced car that I’ve had in the four years I’ve been doing this. It’s very encouraging straight off the bat. We’re trying to figure out where we’re at speed-wise and downforce-wise. From a balance perspective, we’re very happy with it. It made life a little easier because you’re always a little antsy going into that first run to see what performance level you have. We were a little more aggressive today than we have in past years, and that goes down to my experience. I was flat out within a couple of laps, and before it would take a couple of runs before I could go flat out. When you’re newer, you take a little more time. We’re ready to start getting rid of some of the downforce in the next couple of days.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28T Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): “We were able to get an idea of what the backup car is doing. We just wanted to get the backup car through the paces – two outings, that’s it — roll it back to the garage, get the primary car ready and get on with the objectives of the month. We do this as a precaution. In case we need to go to the backup car later, then we know what we have. While we’re itching to get to work on the primary DHL/Sun Drop car, we have to have the discipline to make this happen. The whole team did it, and everyone seemed to run pretty well.”
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7T Team GoDaddy): “I thought we had a solid run today. The ‘T’ car did great today, so we hope the primary car will run just as well. The Go Daddy team is off to a positive start for May.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Z-Line Designs/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): “Today was all right. We only did one run and it was OK, and the Z-Line Designs car felt OK. It was good to get back out on track and to shake the car out. It would have been nice to really get into it, but we were getting up to speed and we brought the car back to get checked out and to make a couple of changes, and then the weather came in. I’m looking forward to getting back out tomorrow and to get more miles.”
PAUL TRACY (No. 23 WIX Filters/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): “The first day on track was great. I’m really, really happy with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and with the work that they have done preparing the WIX Filters car for the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. It was just a seamless day today. We went out with a test plan in mind, and we made four individual changes. Every change made the car a little bit better and a little bit better, and we ended up at 222.295. We were 11th quick, and Justin was 10th, so overall I’m pretty happy with where we ended up, and we will keep working tomorrow.”
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 24 Team Ipiranga/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): “It was good to be back in the car. We did one lap time just to see how the car felt, and we stopped. The speed didn’t show up on my dash, so we tried to work it out for a couple of minutes, and we couldn’t find it. So, we went back out there to really feel the car at a high speed and it felt great, but because we couldn’t see the speeds that I was actually doing and if I was improving and getting better, we decided to pit to fix the problem. We went back to the garage to set the car down. This is the first day and we want to make sure that we can get all of the problems fixed today so that we can start tomorrow strong. It started raining today so unfortunately we were unable to get back out, but we have extra tires for tomorrow, and I hope we will be able to use them all.”
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Team Window World): “We got a lot more done today than we thought we would with the rain. We went through the changes we wanted to make. I feel pretty good about it. Everybody has learned a lot, and we’ve learned a lot from my teammates. I feel really good about the month and the Window World car. I think we’re already a few steps ahead from where we were last year.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26T Team Venom): “It felt really good to get back in the car here in Indy. We focused today on getting a few laps in the T car, and tomorrow we’ll move to our primary car. Hopefully we won’t need the T car again, but it’s nice to know where it stands, just in case. I think the Venom team has potential to be strong this month. We’ve typically run well here and have come close to winning a couple times. This would be a great year to get the job done.”
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10T Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “It was a good shakedown of the No. 10t Target car. Both Scott Dixon and I seemed to have good speed right away, but the real work starts on Monday.”
JAY HOWARD (No. 88 Service Central Schmidt-RLL Racing): “The car feels really good. We got to run our refresher laps and got the work done that we needed to get done in that session. The Service Central team has done a great job in getting the cars ready, and I feel that there is a lot of speed left in the car. We will be working very hard over the next week to find that speed and get ourselves strongly into the field.”
BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 30 The RACB/Aspria RLL Special): “It was a good first day. I feel comfortable in the car. We didn’t have a tow and still did a pretty decent time, so I feel good. It was important for me today to feel good in the car and with the team since I hadn’t been in a car since October of last year, but I think we did everything we needed to do and can start really working on making the car faster tomorrow.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing): (On working with Sarah Fisher after coming up through the same paths in racing): “We have a different respect for each other than probably other people around because of the way we got here and what it means to us. It’s just a good group to be around. Sarah and Andy (O’Gara) have done a great job building their team. They do everything they can to get better. The guys work really hard, and today’s a product of that.” (On his good performances in recent years at Indy): “Yeah, this is my eighth go around here. It’s so much fun being in an Indy car at this track. I definitely feel blessed to have the opportunity with Sarah and Dollar General to be here. Today was a fun day, and hopefully we can keep this momentum going this week.”
SARAH FISHER (Owner, Sarah Fisher Racing): (On her confidence with the team this year and Ed Carpenter being so fast so soon): “That wasn’t supposed to happen yet. You’re supposed to slowly build up and do that. You know, I’ve had a lot of questions about whether it was going to be hard watching the 67 car go around without me in it. Honestly, it makes a difference with the individual you have representing you and doing the job for you. Ed’s a perfect fit for us and really showed that today. We’re really proud of the boys and the job they did together.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): “We’re really happy with how the day went. I probably could have pulled off an even better lap there, but for me it’s still a matter of understanding what I’m expecting to happen compared to what is actually going to happen when I’m out there. The National Guard car felt good, and we didn’t have anything out of the ordinary, and we understand it’s going to be a whole different gig when there are a bunch of different cars out there, as that creates a lot more turbulent air. Thankfully, through Rookie Orientation and again today we’ve been able to make positive steps every time by making small steps every time. If we can keep up the pace of what we’re doing, then it should be positive as we continue to move forward.”
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co A.J. Foyt Racing): “I think we are cautiously excited. There’s still a lot to do. We’re still slower than what it will take in qualifying, but the car is good, it’s fast. We did get a draft, but even without the draft, we’re pretty competitive in our times, so we’re excited. It’s the first day, but I think we started the right way and we just have to maintain and improve on what we had today.”
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing): “It was very nice to be back at Indianapolis. I love the track. To feel the speed, I always have to get used to it to go 220 mph. I’m very happy to have a chance to race here with A.J. Foyt. It’s a great team, and A.J. is a great team owner. I’m learning a lot from him. Let’s hope we can have a good week. It rained a little bit, but we were able to do some good laps. We found a good direction to go, so that was very good for the first day.”
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): “It was part of our plan actually not to practice. Last year we didn’t practice here, and it kind of turned out to be a good thing. I was sick I was in the hospital with really bad bronchitis so I missed the first day. To run on a very consistent basis, sometimes it’s better to wait for a little bit of rubber not because it’s quicker but because the track is not going to burn tires so quickly. The plan is to get out tomorrow, but the only thing that is going to dictate whether we go out is the temperature. If it’s the way it was today and if it’s green, we’re going to go (out).”
1985 Indianapolis 500 winner Danny Sullivan was at the track today, serving as a judge in the Celebration of Automobiles with fellow “500” winners Parnelli Jones and Johnny Rutherford.
DANNY SULLIVAN: (On how the excitement of this year): “It’s always good to be back here. I don’t get back often enough. I was surprised how many drivers are still around. It’s pretty staggering how many guys have competed in the Indy 500 and how many champions are here, as well. I was riding around with Johnny Rutherford this morning, an old teammate and always great fun to be with. And Parnelli’s out here, Al (Unser) Jr., Rick (Mears); I saw Arie (Luyendyk). It’s a great group of people.”
SUNDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local):
Indianapolis 500 practice
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues with the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 on May 29 at the 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, SiriusXM channel 94 and www.indycar.com. The 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Firestone Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 27. The race will be televised live by VERSUS.