By Amy Konrath
INDIANAPOLIS (Monday, May 16, 2011) – Three hours before the green flag flew to start the six-hour practice session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Alex Tagliani bounded into the Sam Schmidt Motorsports garage and started preparing for the day’s activity.
“He’s amped up,” team owner Sam Schmidt laughed following the daily engineering meeting.
Stretching out the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins car on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time was the best remedy for two weeks of on-track inactivity since the IZOD IndyCar Series race in Brazil for the Quebec native, and he enjoyed the ride. Tagliani topped the speed chart with a best lap (of his 17) of 225.878 mph — the best of the nine-plus total hours of track time.
Seven different teams were represented in the top 10 as 39 drivers recorded 1,379 laps in a stiff, cool breeze without incident. Rookie Jay Howard was the lone entrant not to make an appearance — by design based on tire management. The field was separated by a scant 1.2 seconds.
Scott Dixon (225.124) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Graham Rahal (225.071) of Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing, Ryan Briscoe (225.016) of IZOD Team Penske and Oriol Servia (224.903) of Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing filled out the top five.
A year ago, preparations for the Indianapolis 500 didn’t kick off as Tagliani would have planned.
As the one-day snapshot of track activity revealed, there will be a number of strong teams rising for Pole Day/Tom Carnegie Day (May 21) and the 100th anniversary race May 29. Dixon, Rahal, Briscoe, Dario Franchitti — the reigning Indy 500 champion of Target Chip Ganassi Racing — Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport, Vitor Meira of A.J. Foyt Racing, and Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves have been in the top 10 both days of practice as teams progress through their test programs.
DAY 3 NOTEBOOK:
Owners of more than 250 vintage Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars will have the opportunity to take a ceremonial lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the end of Pole Day/Tom Carnegie Day on Saturday, May 21.
Held in conjunction with the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 and a month-long celebration of great race and passenger cars at IMS, more than 250 Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars will appear May 21-22 at the Racing Capital of the World. This special two-day event, which will be highlighted by the ceremonial pace lap just after 6 p.m. Pole Day, will showcase the largest collection of vintage Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars ever assembled.
Headlining this amazing array of automobiles will be a Stoddard-Dayton, the same type that paced the inaugural Indianapolis 500 won in 1911 by Ray Harroun, who drove the legendary Marmon-Wasp to victory. The 1911 Indianapolis 500 was the first major auto race to use a Pace Car, which is now a tradition at races around the world. At the wheel of the Stoddard-Dayton at the 1911 “500” was Carl G. Fisher, one of the founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Another featured car at the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Reunion will be the Chevrolet Camaro from the 1969 “500” won by Mario Andretti. The 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 Chevrolet Camaro Pace Car is painted to look exactly like its 1969 predecessor.
From 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Pole Day, the Pace Cars will be staged for a “Fans Choice” vote. The cars also will be on display in the infield from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Bump Day/IMS Armed Forces Day on Sunday, May 22. As an added attraction, car clubs featuring muscle cars, exotics and more will provide fans plenty of eye candy.
Team Penske teammates Will Power and Ryan Briscoe talked about the significance of racing in the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 and their prospects to win the PEAK Performance Pole Award this Saturday.
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): “Every year it’s a special feeling. But somehow I think this year with more cars, more good drivers – and I think there will be a bigger crowd – I think this will be something else.” (On what it would mean to win the pole at Indy after capturing pole for the first four races of the season): “Yeah, for me, it would be a really big deal. It’s something that I’d love to do. I sort of had a chance last year, a close chance. After the experience of last year, I know what I need to do. Obviously, the conditions are changing every year, but the car’s exactly the same. I’m definitely keen to giving it everything I can to get the pole, no question.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 IZOD Team Penske): “Obviously, I’m grateful to be here and be able to do it with Team Penske. It’s an amazing team, and Roger (Penske) is just so passionate about this race. It gives me, as a driver, a whole lot of confidence going into it with the goal of winning. That’s the one and only goal coming here, to win the race. The 100th anniversary is very special.” (On the importance of going for the pole as a driver at Team Penske): “It certainly felt like in the last three years I’ve been in a great position to fight for the pole. Sometimes it just comes down to timing or whatever. But Helio, our teammate, he’s really good at getting on the pole here. But I feel we have exactly the same equipment. We’ve just got to make sure we put ourselves in the right position to be able to go for it on Saturday.”
Maintenance personnel for the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, visited the Speedway on Sunday. They met with Indianapolis 500 drivers and team officials, including Ed Carpenter and Sarah Fisher Racing owner Sarah Fisher.
The Blue Angels participated in the Indianapolis Air Show on May 14-15.
AVCM(AW) VIRGIL CRAVEN (Maintenance master chief, U.S. Navy Blue Angels): (About the maintenance personnel who visited the track): “You can break it down just like the crew that maintains those race cars. You have engine guys, tire guys, suspension guys, etc. Crew chiefs are responsible for launching and recovering the aircraft and performing visual inspections after each flight. Logistics order and receive all parts required to maintain our aircraft. Avionics maintains all power distribution systems, radar, navigation, communication and instrumentation systems. Airframes maintains all hydraulically powered systems and flight control surfaces. Power plants maintains the engines and fuel systems. All shops were in attendance, and we really appreciated the opportunity. Being invited and getting treated so well by the track staff and all the teams we visited was exceptional. The team really enjoyed talking with Sarah Fisher and Ed Carpenter. The whole trip was outstanding. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I will never forget.”
Purdue University and HVM Racing announced a strategic partnership Saturday at IMS.
The HVM-Purdue relationship brings to the HVM team advanced engineering technologies in aerodynamics, manufacturing and advanced materials, providing opportunities for Purdue students and faculty to participate in motorsports with HVM.
The Purdue name will be displayed on the No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy HVM Racing car driven this month by 2010 Chase Rookie of the Year Simona de Silvestro. Purdue engineering students also will work as interns on the team, and HVM will collaborate with Purdue students and faculty to optimize the aerodynamic package for the new 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series cars under development by Dallara.
Another key component of the partnership is to develop educational programs for children, young adults and the public that uses the excitement of IZOD IndyCar Series racing as the starting point for the introduction of engineering and science. Of particular interest is to use electric motorsports as a venue to engage students and adults in a discussion on the technologies needed for economic, green and sustainable electric energy in the 21st century.
Electric motorsports are a key component of the HVM-Purdue partnership. Purdue conducted the Collegiate evGrandPrix on Saturday, May 7 during the Emerging Tech Day at IMS. College teams from across the nation and Europe designed, built and raced electric go-karts in the 100-lap event.
JAMES CARUTHERS (Reilly professor of chemical engineering, Purdue): “Our objectives are, first, use the ‘cool’ of IndyCar racing to attract students’ attention, and then introduce the students to the incredible engineering required in these race cars. Finally, we want to encourage interested students to consider a career in engineering or technology. If these students choose a career in motorsports, great! If they choose a technology career in some other industry, great! And even if the students choose a non-technical career but have a greater appreciation of technology, that is also great!”
KEITH WIGGINS (President, HVM Racing): “This relationship with Purdue enables HVM to work with one of the premier engineering schools in the U.S. to exploit the latest technological innovations in aerodynamics, advance materials and manufacturing, as well as being able to interact with bright, fresh-thinking Purdue students in a variety of ways for the future.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay hopes to race in his fourth Indianapolis 500 later this month, but he took advantage of the complete rainout of practice Sunday, May 15 to visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum for the first time.
“I can’t believe I hadn’t been there,” said Hunter-Reay, the 2008 Indianapolis 500 Chase Rookie of the Year. “It was amazing. “The place is what Indy car racing is all about, and that’s what makes Indy car racing special. To go there as a current Indy car driver made it even more special. To see the cars that were driven by owners of teams I’ve driven for and the ones driven by my heroes and know they all went to Victory Lane here at Indy made for a very special day.”
The one car that that the Andretti Autosport driver wanted to see was Rick Mears’ 1984-winning Pennzoil Z-7 Special. Hunter-Reay’s first go-kart was modeled after Mears’ race car, and seeing the real car for the first time brought back childhood memories for the IZOD IndyCar Series standout.
“The No. 6 Pennzoil car, in smaller form, was my first ride,” he said. “That’s what I got into a lot of trouble in. It was my neighborhood wheels, and I did my first right front wing damage in that car when I hit a stop sign.
“It was really cool to see the actual car. I’ve never seen it before, but to see the evolution of the Indy car was really neat to see. To see where the sport actually started and how the cars have developed over the years, and see what made these cars go faster and faster. Indianapolis has always been a proving ground as much as it is a huge race.”
Hunter-Reay was far from the only driver in the Museum during his visit. 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones and Dreyer & Reinbold’s Justin Wilson were visitors to the exhibit of 67 Indianapolis 500-winning cars.
And while Hunter-Reay told all the well-wishers in the Museum his plan was to have his Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car join the winning cars in the Museum next year, he hopes to get another visit to see the cars on display again.
“I’m going to go back again before I leave this month,” Hunter-Reay said.
Spectators holding an admission ticket to Pole Day/Tom Carnegie Day on Saturday, May 21 or Bump Day/IMS Armed Forces Day on Sunday, May 22 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway can redeem them for a free general admission ticket to the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships on Oct. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Visit the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships display in Pagoda Plaza from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. both days. Ticket redemption will continue – for those with Pole Day, Bump Day and Race Day tickets – Wednesday, May 25 through Sunday, May 29 at the INDYCAR Fan Village in the IMS Hall of Fame Museum lot.
Major Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, the adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard, placed an Indiana unit patch decal this afternoon on the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing entry driven by rookie JR Hildebrand.
MAJOR GEN. R. MARTIN UMBARGER: (About the National Guard and the Indianapolis 500): “I’m a born and bred Hoosier. The Indianapolis 500 is just part of our DNA here in Indiana. The National Guard has been a sponsor on the No. 4 Panther Racing car for the past four years. I think everyone knows that we’ve come in second place the last two years in this great race. We’re hoping to improve one rank this year. That’s all we’re asking for.” (On the connection between the military and the Indianapolis 500): “Memorial Day weekend is the weekend when we honor all of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this company. It’s special that this race is broadcast all over the world, particularly on the Armed Forces Network. I know Hoosier Guardsmen that are over there will be watching this race regardless of the hour, and they will be very proud to see that we’re sponsoring a car in this race. What I think of most is what Memorial Day means to all of us, and we should never forget. This facility is steeped in tradition, and the military is also one that is steeped in tradition. To have this race on Memorial Day, it becomes even more special for any soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine, no matter what decade you served.”
JR HILDEBRAND: (About being an American and driving the National Guard car): “It’s an honor as an American to be representing the National Guard, but, more than that, it’s a really humbling experience. It’s not like these types of things where you’re representing ‘Joe’s Bakery’ and you have to talk to people about how awesome their muffins are or something. With the National Guard, it’s something really meaningful for us. We have a lot of different programs that we get involved with, like the youth challenge and things like that. It’s a good deal to get involved on a much deeper level.” (On carrying the Indiana unit patch on the car): “I consider myself a resident of Indiana. I from California originally, but I’ve been living here for the past four years now. And as a team based here in Indianapolis, we’re really excited to represent them and everything they do.”
FASTEST TIMES/SPEEDS OF PRACTICE:
Fastest rookie: #4 JR Hildebrand, 20th, 223.201
INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE QUOTES:
BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 30 The RACB/Aspria RLL Special): “We could have weather like this in qualifying or on Race Day, so you have to be able to run in it. The car was moving around out there with the wind, but it wasn’t that tough. I like what we are doing with the car and with our plan, and I think we are getting there. I think it was another good day for us. We keep improving the car with every change, so we are headed the right way.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 IZOD Team Penske): “It felt great to be back on track today. We took out our primary No. 6 IZOD Team Penske car for practice, and it felt very comfortable out there. It’s nice to be in the 225 bracket. We’ll keep chipping away at it for the rest of the week and get ready for qualifying on Saturday.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): “We did limited running again today in the Verizon Team Penske car. We’re just trying to use our miles wisely. We worked on some race setup today, and the car feels good. We still have plenty of time on track this week before we qualify on Saturday, and we plan to make the most of it.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske): “It was a good day today in the Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra car. We got a chance to run side-by-side with Will (Power), and we were pretty happy with the car. We stuck with our plan to run the primary car. Hopefully tomorrow the weather cooperates, and we’ll continue to work hard and get ready for qualifying.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): “Today the focus was on trying to run more laps in traffic and the Sprott team managed to accomplish that. It was sort of tough to find guys out there so we had to do a little collaboration and planning with a few different guys and did find some guys out there. I definitely got some good running in with Oriol. We staged some laps in front of each other, and behind each other and it was good; that’s a big thing for me to learn. You only have to do four laps to qualify but you have to do 200 in the race with a lot of other cars around you. I think we got a lot accomplished and certainly, from just my perspective, I learned a lot and gained some valuable experience. I think we will carry on with this for the next couple of days and then closer to qualifying, look more into the qualifying setup. The car felt great in traffic. It was a lot more fun running out there with other guys than just pounding around by yourself. Again, it’s sort of similar to the Lights car. I think the experience in the Lights car was certainly very valuable but there is no doubt that the racing is a lot different once you’re going 35 mph faster. It will be an interesting race, there’s no doubt. I just look forward to getting more laps under my belt and over the week and running in more packs, and bigger packs.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): “The day went well for the Telemundo team. It was very cold, colder than we think it will be for Race Day. We had a good run. We went through our test plan, and we ran well. I got my fast lap with a tow, so the time isn’t very representative. But I have to say, tow or no tow, downforce or no downforce, it’s the first time I am in the top five at the end of the day in Indy, so it feels good. I’m happy with the Telemundo car so far. We’re still not where we want to be, but it is really the first test day we have had to try new things. We are happy with where we are, progress-wise.”
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 07 Team REDLINE Xtreme – Circle K): “Yesterday’s session was canceled because of rain, so it felt good to be back in the 07 Team REDLINE Xtreme car working through our program. However, we had a small mechanical issue, which is fixable, but that ended my day very early. I am looking forward to getting back on track tomorrow.”
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co A.J. Foyt Racing): “It was good. I think we evolved a little bit from where we were on Saturday when we last ran. I think the ABC Supply car is competitive, but it’s hard to tell exactly how competitive we are at this point. The car is good, but we’ll be able to tell how good later in the week when we really start dropping the hammer, as will everyone else. In preparation for that, today was a good day.”
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing): “It was an exciting day. The second lap, the engine cover fell off, but my team did a good job to replace it and get me out for some laps at the end of the day. It felt OK. I think the balance is good. We need to work a little more to get more straight-line speed.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): “We just didn’t get a lot of track time today. We were trying some big stuff with the DHL/Sun Drop car, so we’ll see. We’ll get our heads together on it – the whole team – and we’ll figure it out from there. Today is just the tip of the iceberg; there is a lot of week left.”
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers &Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): “It was the not the best conditions that we have seen in Indy, but it was OK. We didn’t run on the first day and Sunday was raining, so today was the first opportunity for us to run. Thanks to the boys; they did a fantastic job preparing an amazing car. It is early in the week, but it is quite nice to show that the Bowers & Wilkins car is strong for an Indy run. When we came here last year, we didn’t know what to expect. We came in apprehensive because it’s a very tough place to get it right and very difficult to win. Obviously, we had some speed, and it worked out quite well last year. We build from it. We had a chance in 2010 to develop a good base and in the winter, the guys worked really hard on the car and cleaned it up a bit and always paid attention to details. That’s what this place wants, and it’s nice to start the week with a car that’s quite strong. Hopefully we can build on it. You can never take anything for granted at this place. We have to stay on our toes all week and roll the car out for qualifying and hope for the best.”
MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Hire Heroes USA/7-Eleven/Dr Pepper): “We were just trying to get the Hire Heroes car more comfortable through Turn 1. We tried a few things but didn’t really sort it out. We just need to look at all the data tonight and figure out how we can move forward. I think our teammates tried a few different things, so hopefully we can figure out some good things for tomorrow.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom): “We spent a lot of time today with the Venom car working on the race car, and we’re getting to where it feels pretty good. But right now I’m a little worried about our speed. I think that if we had qualified today, we might have ended up on the bubble. So we’ll put our heads together tonight, have a think on it and then hit it hard again tomorrow.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 34 Conquest Racing): “It was a very productive day. We did an amazing amount of changes on the development side of the car. We found exactly what we were looking for. We focused mainly on finding the right balance of the car first. Once we got there, we started taking a lot of downforce off, and that really paid off. I’m really happy how it turned out. It’s still very early in the week, so we are still very conservative. As the week progresses, we’ll start to push it a little bit harder. But today was exactly how we wanted the week of Indianapolis 500 practice to start.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus): “Today was a normal Monday at the Speedway. We tried different things and worked on the setup to get comfortable with the car. We’re making what I like to call the ‘cookbook’ so by the end of the week, we’ll look which dish we want to cook, and hopefully it will be a good one.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus): “It was a windy day, but the weather was clear and consistent, so it didn’t have an effect on our program. We made steady progress throughout the day, and I am getting more comfortable each time I go out on track. It was a very productive day.”
E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus): “Today was our second day on track, and we accomplished everything we had planned for the day. We did a lot of research into the dampers and we found some valuable data. Basically, with what I did and what the other drivers on the team are doing, we are going to come up with a good package. That is the good thing about having a four-car team and the right way of working. It is always difficult to make comparisons at a place like Indianapolis because teams are working on different things and some drivers are getting tows, but I ran today without a tow so the data we collected is realistic.”
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Team Window World): “Windy – that’s one thing you can say about today. I think Team Window World stayed on plan and were cautious about how many sets of tires we’re using. Maybe we didn’t run as much as we wanted, but we learned a lot and made a lot of gains today. It seems like the things we’re trying are working really well. Usually 99 out of the 100 things you try don’t work, but it’s working in our favor right now. I’m looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow.”
PIPPA MANN (No. 36 Conquest Racing): “Today was just a pretty tough day at the office. I’ve heard from all the veterans that this place can do that to you sometimes, and we definitely just have one of those days. We seemed to spend it chasing our tail a little bit – both literally and figuratively. We’ve still got a minor handling issue but we’re chasing after it, and until we sort that out we just can’t risk going after speed. We also didn’t run with any tows today when we were running fast, so I actually don’t think the lap time is that bad for the amount of aero we had on and the fact that we weren’t in the tow when we did our best lap. We still have the handling niggle, which we do need to fix, but we’re going to make some fairly big changes overnight, and hopefully we can come out stronger in the morning.”
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy): “I thought we were good on our own today and made a little bit of progress. We just need to stay consistent and find speed. It was a steady day.”
BUDDY RICE (No. 44 Panther Racing): (On being back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and his win in 2004): “It’s good. I see the Indiana weather hasn’t changed much. I think on that day (in 2004) with or without the weather, I thought the weather just made it more exciting. It made it a more exciting race. The 2004 race was an exciting day, for sure.” (About last start at Indianapolis, in 2008): “We were in contention for a top five. Obviously, it got a little hairy there on the final restart. We dropped back a ways, and I was able to work my way back up to seventh or eighth. Our car was in contention. It wasn’t too bad. We put ourselves into a hole on the very first pit stop and had to really dig ourselves out of that hole all day. It took all day to get back up there but, yeah, my last run here was good.” (On his day of practice for the 2011 Indianapolis 500 and Panther Racing): “For us at Panther, everything is going good. With myself and JR in the National Guard car, I think we’re progressing. We’re moving along like we should, and I just need to familiarize myself with the team, the car and get rolling. They have solid cars. I mean, their performance the last few years, I think speaks for itself. We know they have a strong, solid oval program, especially here at the Speedway. That’s what made my decision really easy when John (Barnes) called right around Long Beach and started putting everything into motion. So I’m excited to be here. I’m happy to be here. It’s good to be here and gives me an opportunity for a second win. Also, it’s the Centennial. This only comes around once. There are five of us that are previous winners that are running here, and it’s an exciting time to be here right now.” (On his approach to securing an entry in the Indianapolis 500): “I think everybody has their own way of going about it. I wasn’t going to stand around and also, the way the times were and the way things were going, some things had changed. I get paid to drive race cars. That’s my job. That’s what I do. So for me, it took a little bit. I wanted to make sure I came here and had an opportunity to have a good run. When I showed up, I didn’t just want to show up and run. There’s a lot of different things that I wanted to make sure were in place before I just jumped back in.”
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “It was a good day for the Target team.. We shook down the primary car, which seemed pretty fast. We should run more tomorrow, weather permitting.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “We had a pretty decent day for the Target team. We switched to the primary car today, and it ran smooth. Hope to run a little more tomorrow.”
A total of 58 cars are currently at the Speedway, and 34 have passed technical inspection.Thirty-nine drivers were on track today, turning 1,379 laps. Pippa Mann turned 70 laps today, most of any driver. Forty drivers have been on track this month, turning 2,466 total laps. There were five cautions for a total of 39 minutes today.
TUESDAY’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.