By Amy Konrath
INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, May 18, 2011) – Rain washed out practice for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500.
Rain fell steadily on the Speedway throughout the day, and IZOD IndyCar Series officials canceled the day’s track activities shortly after 4 p.m. (ET).
The last time two entire days of Indianapolis 500 practice were washed out in one week was May 12-13, 2006.
Since veteran practice opened Saturday, May 14, 17 hours and 58 minutes of the scheduled 30 hours of track time have been lost due to rain.
DAY 5 NOTEBOOK:
Recent Butler University graduate and basketball standout Matt Howard visited the track today. Howard, from Connersville, Ind., helped the Bulldogs reach the NCAA men’s basketball final each of the last two seasons.
Howard was scheduled to wave the green flag to start practice today, but had to leave the track before the rain-delayed start of the session due to prior commitments.
MATT HOWARD: (On having the opportunity to wave the green flag for practice): “Just to be a small part of this place is something really special. If we’re able to go and have cars on the track, I can’t wait to wave the green flag and see everybody doing their thing. I’m definitely excited about doing that. It’s a very nice honor. Not a whole lot of people are able to do it, and to be selected is quite an honor.” (On the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): “I came to the race last year with the team, and that was a lot of fun. This place is something that holds a lot of tradition. It’s a special place, and I think anyone here will tell you that this track and this event are pretty special. I think it’s a big part of Indianapolis. I’ve tried to watch at least portions of every race for the last five years or so. I understand quite a bit about it, and I’ve gotten to know Ed Carpenter a bit because he’s from Butler and he’s someone I’ll follow to see how he does. Hopefully, I’ll get to see him a little bit today.”
Some fun with Indianapolis 500 numbers, provided by Sam Schmidt Motorsports:
Not only has car number 77 never won the Indianapolis 500, no car with a number between 70 and 79 has ever been to victory lane in the race. Perhaps more interesting is that cars carrying single-digit numbers and numbers in the teens, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s 80’s and 90’s all have been to Victory Lane with only the 70s left out. Alex Tagliani, driver of the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Dallara/Honda Firestone for SSM, is certainly hoping to change that in 2011.
1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal talked about the effect of rain delays this month. Rahal co-owns Rahal Letterman Lanigan LLC, which is fielded a car for Bertrand Baguette.
BOBBY RAHAL: “Well, it’s the same for everybody. I think we’ve had time to get these cars prepared pretty well for this month. We’ve had some good practice so far, but it’s like I said, it’s the same for everybody, and we’ll just have to find a way to deal with it. There are a lot of little things you can do. You get more time to look the car over, go through all of the data, find ways to make it better and really dig deeper.”
A special Team Penske/Indianapolis 500 edition of the acclaimed “The Charlie Rose Show” at 11 p.m. (ET) tonight on PBS. The show will feature in-depth interviews with Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe and Will Power, and team owner Roger Penske.
The show also will be rebroadcast in the United States at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. (ET) Thursday, May 19 on the Bloomberg Network.
Japanese racer Takuma Sato is collaborating with local students in a project to support the With You Japan charity program, which he created to help empower local child-care professionals in Japan to provide responsive and proactive care to thousands of children as they try to move forward with their lives.
A total of 137 students from the Towne Meadow Elementary School in Carmel, Ind., are taking part in an arts project. They will assemble themselves at ground level to recreate the Japanese flag when photographed from above. The local fire department also is involved by providing a fire truck rescue bucket to serve as the elevated platform for the photograph.
The students want to send this personal and original message of togetherness and solidarity to their counterparts in Japan, many of whom have had their lives torn apart by the recent earthquake and tsunami.
Sato visited the school today to thank the school for its participation and to answer questions about the disaster. He visited the affected areas near Sendai last week and has first-hand experience of the extent of the devastation.
TAKUMA SATO: “I really appreciate the local kids getting involved in this project. There is so much work to be done over in Japan, and people there really need to know that they are not alone. The whole world is doing what it can to help them. I love the idea of the flag picture; it will make a really powerful and interesting message to Japanese kids.”
TIM PHARES (Principal, Towne Meadow Elementary School): “We are extremely excited to partner with Takuma Sato and his project With You Japan. Each year it is tradition for Towne Meadow fifth-grade students to participate in a service project before heading off to middle school. We want our students to understand the importance of giving to others, and this endeavor brought a unique opportunity to connect with students through art all the way across the world. It is our hope we can make a difference by sending a message of togetherness and support to the boys and girls in Japan. Our students thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity and learned a great deal from this project. Towne Meadow is with you, Japan.”
2005 Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon will team up with the Alzheimer’s Association at this year’s 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 to raise awareness for the disease. Wheldon will carry the Alzheimer’s Association logo on his No. 98 William Rast-Curb/Big Machine entry fielded by Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian.
According to the 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, and today as many as 5.4 million Americans are living with the disease. Every 69 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease, and by mid-century someone will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds.
To learn more, visit alz.org.
DAN WHELDON: “I’m honored to announce my partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association at the Indianapolis 500. My mother was recently diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 55. You can imagine the impact this news has had on me and my family. This is a cause very dear to my heart, and I hope that by teaming up with the Alzheimer’s Association, I can help raise awareness on the toll this devastating disease has on individuals with the disease and their families as well as how important early diagnosis is for this population.”
DAY 5 – WEDNESDAY, MAY 18, 2011
The time trials to qualify teams for the remaining slots in the IZOD Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge were rained out today. They will take place Thursday morning.
INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE QUOTES:
PIPPA MANN (No. 36 Conquest Racing): “Welcome to Groundhog Day! Actually, today wasn’t quite Groundhog day because we did get as far as pit lane, and I actually got as far as being strapped into my car before it started to rain again. One minute to green – I’m sitting there, and suddenly the rain started coming down all around me, so we headed back to the garage area. We only wanted to get out there and do a couple of runs today, to see if we finally had a handle on this small niggle we’ve got going on, but unfortunately the weather is just not playing ball. It’s going to make the next few days pretty insane, not just for us but for everyone. the track is going to be extremely busy, and it’s going to be fairly intense. But, to use an American phrase, it is what it is!”
SCOTT SPEED (No. 20 Dragon Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka): “As a rookie, having less track time is definitely not the best thing in the world. It definitely makes things a little more difficult. We’ll do our best to take it in stride. I think we’ll be OK with it. We have a lot of resources here. There’s nothing extra you can really do to prepare for the race, but I feel good right now. I think we’re making good moves and going about everything intelligently. I can’t ask for anything more right now. At this point, it’s all about track time. I mean, we’re just waiting.”
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 Herbalife Schmidt Pelfrey Racing): (About sitting through rain delays): “I’m used to it now. As long as I’ve driven a little bit this month, I feel fine at least in terms of knowing what I’ve got and knowing that we’re strong. So, the anxiety is much less, especially having done this for a few years. You learn rain is always going to be an issue.” (What advice would you provide to a younger driver during delays?): “I don’t know if it’d be so much the younger guys as it would be the guys who in their first couple of runs felt they really needed to work on the car a lot more. If I was in that situation, I’d really be hoping to get out there and keep making adjustments.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske): “It’s kind of like the same story all over again. We came close to getting on track today, but once again, Mother Nature had something else in mind for us. We’ll just work a little harder when we do get a chance to run – hopefully tomorrow. Things are looking good on the Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske car and we’ll be ready to go as soon as we get the opportunity.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 IZOD Team Penske): “Unfortunately the weather hampered our chances of getting back out on track again today, which tests our patience with not being able get more laps done here in Indy. It’s frustrating, but knowing we have such good data to fall back on here at Team Penske keeps us from getting too anxious just yet. Hopefully tomorrow provides better weather and we can get back to work in the No. 6 IZOD Team Penske car.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): “It was just a waiting game today. We almost had the chance to run. Two days in a row of not getting on track is kind of a bummer. The Verizon car is in great shape and I have every confidence that the team will give me a fast race car. It is definitely going to be busy when we finally do get on track. On a positive note, I’ve had plenty of time to meet with the media and our sponsors over the last couple of days. Let’s hope we can get on track Thursday for fans and drivers alike.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Z-Line Designs/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): “Another wet day. We tried to get out there and we took the Z-Line Designs car out to pit lane, but every time it looked like we were close to going out, it would start raining again. It’s not good conditions. You didn’t want to be caught out on track when it started to sprinkle like that. It’s disappointing because it’s another day gone, but hopefully from here the weather will get better and we will be able to get some good running in. At least this way we are not going to be restricted on miles or tires; we can do all of the running we want once the weather clears up.”
PAUL TRACY (No. 23 WIX Filters/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): “It is what it is out there today; we can’t control Mother Nature. I’m just thankful that I’m with the team that I’m with in Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. We’ve got a solid car and a solid foundation, and we already know where we’re at. We know exactly what we want to do. In terms of not being on track, I would be more upset if we were struggling, but I think that we are in a pretty good position to put it in on the first day. I think our cars are strong, and I’m not overly upset about not being able to get out on track. We can’t control what the weather does, and like I said, I’m just glad that I’m with the team that I’m with because we have great cars under us.”
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 24 Team Ipiranga/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): “It’s just disappointing, another day without running. We got so close to being able to go out, but as soon as we started the engine it started to rain again, and it takes forever to dry up the track and we are done for the day because of it. It’s disappointing, but we just have to breathe and wait for tomorrow, and maybe we can finally run more.”
DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 11 HP/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): “It’s another rain day at Indy. We made some changes to the HP car, and we were anxious to go try them. On the program that we have, we are getting back on pace with everybody else with our tire allotment, so I’m not sure if this helps us or hurts us or what, but it’s the same for everybody. Tomorrow, Friday, Saturday and Sunday all look good, so we will shoot for that.”
A total of 59 cars are currently at the Speedway, and 59 have passed technical inspection.
No drivers were on track today. Forty drivers have been on track this month, turning 2,479 total laps.
There was one caution for four hours, four minutes today, due to rain.
THURSDAY’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.