From Amy Konrath
INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, May 19, 2011) – IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power topped the speed charts as practice for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 resumed following a two-day weather-related break. Patrick posted a quick lap of 226.267 mph to place 10th on the speed chart.
With 12 minutes left in the six-hour session, Verizon Team Penske’s Power unseated Alex Tagliani atop the speed chart with a lap of 227.778 mph (fastest of the month) to earn the $5,000 Grady Brothers Construction Fastest Lap of the Day award. All 40 entrants took on the track, recording a total of 2,394 laps, and the top 38 cars were separated by one second.
Tagliani, driving the No. 77 Bower & Wilkins car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, had a quick lap of 227.652. Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe (227.217) and three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves (226.927) followed, and Townsend Bell in the No. 99 Herbalife Schmidt Pelfrey Racing car was fifth (226.741).
The yellow flag flew early in the session when Simona de Silvestro’s No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy car made heavy contact with the outside retaining wall in the North Short Chute and became airborne before catching fire. She was transported to Methodist Hospital to be treated for burns to her hands and released. Her driving status will be determined on Friday.
DAY 6 NOTEBOOK:
Three Indianapolis 500 teams earned the final three spots in the IZOD Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge during time trials this morning. Teams changed four tires and performed a simulated fueling hookup. The three qualifiers:
#82 Tony Kanaan
KV Racing Technology-Lotus
#27 Mike Conway
#3 Helio Castroneves
#28 Ryan Hunter-Reay was fourth, 9.134.
Twelve teams will compete in the IZOD Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge on Miller Lite Carb Day, Friday, May 27. These nine teams previously qualified based on pit performance between the 2010 Indianapolis 500 and the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle earlier this month:
KV Racing Technology-Lotus (#5 Sato), Team Penske (#6 Briscoe), Target Chip Ganassi Racing (#9 Dixon), Target Chip Ganassi Racing (#10 Franchitti), Team Penske (#12 Power), Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (#22 Wilson), Andretti Autosport (#26 M. Andretti), Newman/Haas Racing (#06 Hinchcliffe), Dale Coyne Racing (TBD).
INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE:
At noon, the ambient temperature was 66 degrees with a relative humidity of 68 percent and winds from the west at 10 mph. Skies were cloudy. The track temperature was 92 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.
Noon – GREEN. #27 Conway first on track.
12:10 p.m. — #67 Carpenter fastest at 224.134.
12:25 p.m. – YELLOW. Sparks shower from bottom of #78 De Silvestro’s car entering Turn 3. Car hits outside retaining wall between Turns 3 and 4. Car jumps, spins and rides wall backward, making secondary contact with catch fence in entrance of Turn 4. Car stops upside down on fire in apron in Turn 4. Fire extinguished, De Silvestro climbs from car with assistance from Holmatro Safety Team.
Senators Dick Lugar and Dan Coats are proud to announce the passage of a U.S. Senate Resolution recognizing the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. The resolution passed the Senate through unanimous consent May 18.
The full text of the resolution is available at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2011-05-18/pdf/CREC-2011-05-18-pt1-PgS3113-5.pdf#page=1.
DICK LUGAR (U.S. Senator, R-Ind.): “The Indy 500 is a proud Hoosier tradition. Each May, the Indy 500 brings hundreds of thousands of spectators to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and we are pleased to showcase Indiana to so many wonderful visitors. The Indy 500 serves as a demonstration of Indiana’s proud automotive heritage. I am pleased to join with Senator Coats and the rest of the United States Senate in recognizing the 100th anniversary of the race and look forward to many more years of this Hoosier institution.”
DAN COATS (U.S. Senator, R-Ind.): “The Indianapolis 500 is the world’s most famous and prestigious automobile race. The 500 holds a special place in the history of the automobile and Indiana. This May, Hoosiers celebrate the 100th anniversary of this great tradition and look forward to another exciting race and century of Indianapolis motorsports.”
Amos Brown, Indianapolis AM 1310 The Light radio talk show host, was the honorary starter today. Brown also rode in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater car this morning.
AMOS BROWN: (About his ride in the two-seater Indycar): “It was a great experience. First of all, having the honor to be driven around by Johnny Rutherford was a great experience. And it’s something that I will remember when my granddaughter is trying to drive. I won’t be as nervous with her as I was when I was in the car with JR. I didn’t realize all of the g-forces that the drivers deal with. I felt like I was getting pressed down. It gave me a better understanding of what these men and women go through to do their jobs.” (On waving the green flag to start practice for the Indianapolis 500): “That was fun. I think once I got used to the cars going by, it felt no different than if I was on the other side of the catch fence. It was a thrill to be that close to the action. That’s when I realized that: ‘Oh, OK. This is pretty fun.’ I also realized that these guys have a job to do, and there are lot of them that are trying to make the race. I never want to be in the way of people doing their job. I’m just in awe of what they are doing. I’m glad that I brought, hopefully, good weather and full day of practice so they can get ready for Saturday.”
Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, INDYCAR medical director: Simona de Silvestro is awake and alert and being transported via ground to Methodist Hospital for further evaluation of second-degree burns to her right hand and superficial burns to her left hand.
Today is the 38th birthday of two-time and defending Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti.
ESPN Classic will present a week-long tribute in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. The 2011 edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” airs Sunday, May 29 on ABC, with pre-race at 11 a.m. (ET).
All week long beginning Monday, May 23, ESPN Classic will air classic Indy 500 races and “SportsCentury” programming. On the actual 100th anniversary, May 30, ESPN Classic will present a 27-hour marathon anchored by a re-air of the 2011 race.
Jenna Wolfe, the Sunday co-anchor of “Weekend TODAY” and a correspondent for “TODAY” on NBC, visited the track today to film an upcoming segment on the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 for “Weekend Today.”
Wolfe rode in the Indy Racing Experience two-seat car with Mario Andretti driving and interviewed 2010 Indianapolis 500 Chase Rookie of the Year Simona De Silvestro, IMS Historian Donald Davidson and IMS Director of Photography Ron McQueeney.
The Indiana Section of SAE International will announce the winner of the 45th annual Louis Schwitzer Award sponsored by BorgWarner at 11 a.m. Friday, May 20 in the Economaki Press Conference Room.
The Louis Schwitzer Award, presented by engineers to engineers, recognizes individuals with the courage and conviction to explore and develop new concepts in motorsports technology for use in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. The award has been presented annually since 1967 by the Indiana Section of SAE International in honor of early racing pioneer and past Indiana Section Chairman Louis Schwitzer.
Award sponsor BorgWarner provides a $10,000 cash prize to the winner. SAE International also provides a $1,000 scholarship to the engineering school of the winner’s choice and doubles the scholarship amount if the winner was a past Formula SAE participant. In addition, the winner’s name is added to the permanent trophy on display in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.
Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Bruce P. Crandall has been named honorary starter for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 29, waving the green flag to begin racing for the field of 33 drivers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Retired Col. Crandall, who flew more than 900 missions as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, received the Congressional Medal of Honor – the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government – in 2007.
Crandall was honored for his leadership, heroism and courage during the Battle of Ia Drang on Nov. 14, 1965. He led the first major division operation of airmobile troops into Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley and is credited with evacuating some 70 wounded comrades with his wing man and fellow Medal of Honor recipient Major Ed Freeman. The two also flew in the ammunition needed for the 1/7th Cavalry to survive. The craft Crandall was flying was unarmed.
During his military career, Crandall also received a Bronze Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, a Presidential Unit Citation and a Purple Heart among numerous other citations.
The 2002 movie “We Were Soldiers” was based on the operation for which Crandall was awarded the Medal of Honor, with 1997 Academy Award nominee Greg Kinnear appearing as Crandall.
BRUCE P. CRANDALL: “I’m thrilled and honored to be selected as the honorary starter for the Indianapolis 500 in its 100th anniversary year,” Crandall said. “The race is an American tradition, and I’m very grateful for the continued tributes to the U.S. Armed Forces during the pre-race ceremonies every year. I can’t wait to get into the starter’s stand.”
JEFF BELSKUS (President and CEO, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation): “It’s a great honor to welcome Bruce Crandall to serve as the honorary starter of the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500. The Indianapolis 500 has paid tribute to the service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces since its inception on Memorial Day weekend in 1911, and it’s a privilege for a true American hero to send the field of 33 on its way toward Victory Lane at such a historic race.”
A comparison of the specifications of the No. 32 Marmon “Wasp” that Ray Harroun drove to victory in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911 and the cars that will compete in the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29.
1911 Marmon “Wasp”
2011 IndyCar Series Car
38 inches (maximum)
192 inches (minimum)
477 cubic inches (7.8 liters)
213.6 cubic inches (3.5 liters)
Slightly less than 100
635 at 10,300 RPM
34″ x 4.5″ (Firestone)
25.8 x 10″ (Firestone front)
26.8-27.3″ x 14-14.5″ (Firestone rear)
100 percent fuel-grade ethanol
U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe will dedicate and issue for the first time the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 United States Postal Service commemorative stamp at a ceremony Friday, May 20 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The event will take place at 10 a.m. at the IMS Pagoda Plaza on the Coca-Cola Stage.
The 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 stamp, which features the Marmon “Wasp” driven by inaugural Indianapolis 500 winner Ray Harroun, is one of 25 subjects highlighted in the USPS 2011 Commemorative Stamp Program. The stamp will be a “Forever Stamp,” always equal in value to the current First Class Mail 1-ounce letter regardless of price changes in the future.
Also participating in the ceremony will be Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and 1985 Indianapolis 500 pole winner Pancho Carter.
Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, INDYCAR medical director: Simona de Silvestro has been released from Methodist Hospital. She will meet with INDYCAR medical officials Friday to evaluate her driving status.
De Silvestro suffered second-degree burns to her right hand and superficial burns to her left hand in a crash earlier today.
She will be available for interviews at 11:15 a.m. Friday on the fourth floor of the Media Center.
BMW Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan American Le Mans Series driver Joey Hand visited the track today.
JOEY HAND (About coming to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): “I’ve never gotten out here and watched Indy cars go around. I thought it would be a good time to come around and see some people. My Rahal guys are all here. I’ve got a bit of a break from the American Le Mans Series, so I came out here to support them. I once said I wasn’t going to come out here unless I was racing, so some people had to talk me into coming here and meeting people.” (On his interest in Indy cars): “To come here and finally see an Indy car go by is really cool. I get to see what Indy is all about. I watched it all the time as a kid. I watched Indy. In fact, I watched my boss, Bobby Rahal, race here when I was growing up. To be honest, I’ve definitely got some interest in the Las Vegas race at the end of the year. I just wanted to get my face out here. A long time ago, Kim Green told me that I’m not going to get a job sitting on my couch. So I wanted to make sure I got out here and met people. I met Randy Bernard, and he’s really nice. I’m obviously going to stay in sports cars, but this Las Vegas deal for 5 million bucks is something that’s really intriguing. The Rahal guys are interested in it and, who knows, maybe we’ll get to Indy next year.”
HVM Racing owner Keith Wiggins reported this afternoon that the No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy HVM Racing entry driven by Simona De Silvestro was damaged beyond repair in a crash this afternoon.
De Silvestro drove the team’s backup car on Indianapolis Star Opening Day practice Saturday, reaching a top speed of 219.522 mph in 13 total laps. The backup car was the team’s primary car in the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season, Wiggins said.
KEITH WIGGINS (Owner, HVM Racing): (How confident are you that you can get back in pretty good shape?): “Yes, we can build a good car, but it probably won’t be as good as the original car because that was built specifically for here. There are a lot of specialities about building a car for here, and we only had one of those built because that is all our resources will allow. So the question is will this car be as quick as the other one? That’s the challenge.”
Officials from the International Motorsports Industry Show (IMIS) and C&R Racing Inc., announced today that the “Rally In The Alley,” a reception exclusively for all INDYCAR team members participating in the Indianapolis 500, will take place Sunday in Gasoline Alley at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway immediately following the conclusion of on-track Bump Day activities.
During the reception, the C&R Racing / IMIS “True Grit” Award will be bestowed upon a member of the INDYCAR community. The $5,000 award is given to a veteran INDYCAR team member who has achieved success, overcome adversity, excelled in preparation and has exemplified dedication to the highly skilled trade of building and maintaining IZOD IndyCar Series cars.
Paulsen and C&R established the “True Grit” Award in 1998 for crew members in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400.
The third annual IMIS event is scheduled for Dec. 8-10 at the Indiana Convention Center.
CHRIS PAULSEN (Owner, C&R Racing; co-founder, IMIS): “Many years ago, Joe Ball and all the guys at DieHard Batteries used to conduct a big party in Gasoline Alley when the track closed on Bump Day. It was something all the mechanics and crews looked forward to after a long month of working toward the Indianapolis 500. It gave them a chance to relax a little bit after qualifying and before the race preparation began. Unfortunately, we haven’t had an event like that at the Speedway in a few years, so we wanted to do something to give back to the crews who work so hard during the month. The Hulman-George family and Randy Bernard really liked the idea of bringing an event like this back, and we really appreciate their support and involvement.”
FASTEST TIMES/SPEEDS OF PRACTICE:
Fastest rookie: #4 JR Hildebrand, sixth, 226.527
INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE QUOTES:
BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 30 The RACB/Aspria RLL Special): “Finally we got to do some laps, and again I think we had a good day. We had a full day of running, and that allowed us to try a number of different things. Most of them were good, but there were some that didn’t work. It’s all part of the process that you have to go through here, and I have been really impressed with the way this team goes through their processes. If we keep working like this, we’re going to have some good speed at qualifying.”
JAY HOWARD (No. 88 Service Central Schmidt-RLL Racing): “What we were able to do in our last outing (this afternoon) shows just how hard this team works and how good their development process is. The Service Central crew has worked very hard to find some more speed in the car, and the engineers keep coming up with more options for us. So we just take the car out with those changes they suggest and keep going faster. I am very encouraged by what we did today.”
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers &Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): “We did well today. We learned a lot. We had good track position, and we weren’t in a lot of traffic. That lap (227.652 mph), I was behind Dario Franchitti, so I had a bit of a tow. But it shows that the car is quick and capable of doing it. I think we still have more to come. We just need to make sure that when it comes time to do it, we have the right balance.” (Do you have a chance for the pole?): “The way the car is running right now, for sure it is. I think we would be foolish to think that we couldn’t do it. But the truth is that Penske and Ganassi have really good cars, and they know their way around this place. They have 10 times more experience than us. I’m sure by qualifying they’re going to do something amazing to their cars, and all of a sudden they’re going to be up to the top and we’re going to end up fighting with them. But if that happens, that’s OK. We should be proud that guys like Roger and Chip are looking at us, going, ‘Why are those guys so quick?’ That’s kind of our mindset right now.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “It was a good, long day. Running lots of laps and in race setup was what is was all about. It was nice to have the sun out after we lost a few days. So far so good, and tomorrow it will be about speed.”
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “We focused on race setup because we weren’t sure how much more time we’d get doing that. We’re just working through the program right now, but we’ve got more work to do. I’m OK with where we’re at right now. The last run there we found something. Looking forward to tomorrow.”
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co A.J. Foyt Racing): “Today confirmed what we were cautious about. We didn’t know how fast the car is, and I think today confirmed that the car is very fast. There isn’t anybody really playing around today. Everybody at one point or another did a qualifying run, maybe not as aggressive as they are going to go in qualifying, but they did a qualifying run. And I think we stuck up pretty good on that. I feel very confident, very good about the car. Once we qualify on the first day, hopefully we can focus on the race setup on Sunday. Right now it’s very doable, so I’m happy about that.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central): “Overall, it was a really good day for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing. The No. 38 Service Central Honda is good with both high- and low-downforce setups. I’m excited to go out and qualify this weekend.”
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing): “It’s very good to be back in the car. And straight out of the box, we made a good improvement on the last two days that we didn’t run. The guys were able to fit the engine cover properly. We were able to run 224, which at the time we were P4 on a tow, but then we worked on the car and at the end we could run decent laps by ourselves. I think we’re getting better every time, and we’re learning about the car. Still have a little bit to improve but getting better, so I’m happy.”
DAN WHELDON (No. 98 William Rast-Curb/Big Machine): “We had a good day. It was obviously nice to be on track. I think one thing the fans don’t see is how hard the guys work on the Bryan Herta Autosport team. They did a phenomenal job in the days off track. They weren’t sitting in the garage waiting for it to stop raining. They worked incredibly hard. The car today was good. It seemed certainly reasonable in qualifying trim. We were able to work on the race car, which is obviously important to me. There are still some improvements to be made but, for as limited running as we have had, I am pretty encouraged.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 34 Conquest Racing): “It was a tough day for the No. 34 Conquest Racing car. We were very confident in what we had. We felt very good about where we ended up the last time we went out, but today was just one of those days when we couldn’t find anything. We struggled with the rear, and we were not able to settle down. We will just keep working on it and be positive for tomorrow.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): “We got a lot of work done today. We had made a change to the Sprott car back on Monday night that we have been waiting three days to try. It was good that we did it, but unfortunately it wasn’t a step forward, and it took quite a lot of downtime to go back on it and we missed a big chunk of the afternoon. But we still got a good number of laps in and really started to trim the car a bit more. We were focusing on running by ourselves and not really trying to compete in the ‘tow Olympics’ out there, so I don’t think 30th on the time charts is very representative of where we are speed-wise, but there is always time in it, and always more speed to find. We’re going to keep chipping away at it. Tomorrow we will focus on qualifying runs, and we will see where we are at the end of the day.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): “I ran a lot of laps in the Telemundo car today; I think I only got out of the car once today. It was fun to be able to go through many of the test items that we planned, and the car feels good; it keeps feeling better. Of all the things we tried, there was only one that didn’t really improve the car, so we gained a lot of valuable information today. Tomorrow is going to get fun out there when everyone is super-trimmed. I have to say that some cars are impressively fast. I’m not sure where we stand, but Friday we will have a better idea and Saturday we will have the real one. I am very happy with how the whole team has been sticking to our plan. It’s easy to get caught up out there when everybody starts to go fast. We had a good lap with a little bit of a tow, but everybody kind of got tows. I feel good about where we stand right now.”
SCOTT SPEED (No. 20 Dragon Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka): “It was an eventful day, to say the least. We had a lot of trouble with the car earlier in the day, luckily without doing any damage. However, on our last time out today, we were able to get the car where we wanted it to be. Tomorrow we are going to continue to make changes and continue to make progress.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen): “It was a really good day for Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. We were able to run a lot of miles in the No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen Honda. We made a lot of progress today, and the Novo Nordisk crew did a great job. We just have to focus on getting me, as the rookie, the experience and the miles needed to be ready for qualifications this weekend.”
PIPPA MANN (No. 36 Conquest Racing): “On Monday when we were first running, we were struggling a bit with the back of the car. Today we finally got on top of that, and picked up quite a bit of pushing off the corners, so the oversteer and changed to a bit of understeer. We’ve been battling that for most of the day, and this afternoon, right at the very end, we finally made a little bit of progress toward understanding what that is and why it might be happening. We feel we have a definite direction to go in tomorrow to see if we can fix the handling issues. However, overall, with a one-lap job, we’ve got to be fairly pleased with my first lap at over 225 mph. Tomorrow will be similar to how it was at the end of today’s session, with a lot of cars out on track. We’ve just got to keep on working away, and fingers crossed we’ll get to the root of these problems by the weekend. I never thought I’d be so happy to be 21st in a practice session, but in this instance, I genuinely am.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing): “Overall, it was a very productive day for the Dollar General team. We were able to get in a lot of laps, and we ran with some traffic and stuck to our game plan. We worked on a variety of things: some for the race, some for quals. We really learned a lot that’s going to help us not only for this weekend, but for the following weekend, as well. The speed charts weren’t our focus today, but we ended up P9. It was good to be up there in the mix.”
HO-PIN TUNG (No. 8 Schmidt Dragon Racing): “It was very nice to get back into the car again after so many days off the track due to rain. During those days, we discussed how we wanted the program we had set to progress, and today we were able to hit all of those points. I am very happy overall and look forward to continuing to progress tomorrow before we qualify this weekend.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske): “It was certainly a good and full day for the No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra team. We ran a lot of laps and all of them were really about race setup. My teammates, Will and Ryan, did some qualifying runs so we know what we need to do there, but we really just focused on getting our car right for the race. Tomorrow will be all about speed for us. It’s going to be fun!
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom): “The Venom car is comfortable, so it’s good in that aspect, but maybe a bit too comfortable because we just don’t have the speed. We’ll keep working at it and hopefully make some big gains tomorrow.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 IZOD Team Penske): “It was a very good day, overall. We worked on the race setup on the No. 6 IZOD Team Penske car, and I worked a lot with my teammates on track. We made a ton of changes throughout the day, and we were very productive. We trimmed out the car at the end of the session and focused a bit more on speed. All in all, it was a very productive day.”
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Team Window World): “At least it didn’t rain today, so everybody got a lot of track time. Some people seemed to be doing race runs, and at the end there were people getting a lot of tows. Therefore it’s hard to get a good read on just how fast everyone really is. We’ll gauge it and find more speed, but we feel pretty good about the Window World car. It is what it is when you get to Indianapolis. It’s always a fight to find that last little bit of speed.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): “Our progress today was pretty good. The DHL/Sun Drop car right now is very, very well balanced, probably the best car I’ve ever had at Indy. But we need to find some more speed, and tomorrow is the next opportunity to do that. The car is great; the guys have done an amazing job with it. This is the stressful time of the week for the drivers. We’re doing a lot of low-downforce runs right now, and we’re only going to be doing more of that as we head toward Pole Day.”
MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Hire Heroes USA/7-Eleven/Dr Pepper): “I think we found a direction for tomorrow. The Hire Heroes/7-Eleven/Dr Pepper car felt pretty comfortable at the end there, so it’s just a case of finding what speed we have tomorrow. I just feel more comfortable now with the whole package that we have, so that’s good. Just more track time, really, is what I needed. I feel good from that standpoint; I just need to see what we have now.”
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy): “I thought it was a productive day. We made slow but steady changes in the GoDaddy car. We are still pleased with the speed at our downforce level, but there’s still work to do.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): “Starting with rookie orientation, it is going quite smoothly for us. Panther Racing and the strength of the team has been a huge part of it. Buddy Rice and I are learning from each other and getting to know one another as we work as a team on a different discipline here with the oval. For me, in particular, we are just trying to chip away at it, and that has been working well for us so far. We have had really positive results with small changes, and this is what we hope to continue to do going forward. I am happy with the car in traffic and pleased with the speed we have on our own now. It is going to come down to a pretty serious shootout for the top 15 spots with all of the competitive cars here this year. It is going to be tough to put in the big numbers, but we are confident with where we are at right now.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): “I don’t think the speeds are very representative of where anyone is at. You go out and happen to get a really good tow, and you get a big number. That’s what happened at the end. Verizon Team Penske worked on race setup most of the day. I was very comfortable following cars. We haven’t changed much from last year. We had good cars last year and need to rub on them a little bit, and that will do the trick.” (On dealing with the rain-shortened practice time before Pole Day): “I think tomorrow, early on, we’ll be working on race stuff, and then we’ll start trimming out for qualifying. We’ll be working on the car. I think it’s pretty important to focus on the race. You could spend a lot of time screwing around with qualifying things, and then it’ll be different conditions the next day. We have to have a good car in the race. That’s what we’ll be focusing on.”
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 Herbalife Schmidt Pelfrey Racing): “We did a good amount of running. It was good to get out with the Herbalife car after the rain the last two days. We learned a lot and tried several things that were on our list. We’ve very comfortable.” (Is the pole the goal?): “I hope so. Tagliani’s car is a rocket ship. Every time I walk past it in the garage, I sort of rub by it with my arm hoping some of that speed dust sort of rubs off on me. I think we’re going to be OK.” (About work on pit stops): “It’s probably the most important thing we did today, quite frankly. We’ve got a quick car it seems, but you’ve got to get in and out of the pits. My guys need practice doing ‘hot’ stops, and I probably need the most practice. These cars aren’t that easy to get in and out of the pit box. It felt pretty good. We’ve got some tweaking to do, but it was great to get practice doing that.” (About returning to Indy): “Every year it gets a little bit easier, not much, but just a little bit. It has been 11 months since I was here last, and it is good to be back with good equipment and great people in Sam Schmidt Motorsports. I also have a good sponsor in Herbalife, and consistency is nice. Even though we aren’t going out for every race, it sure feels nice to be back in Indy. Alex Tagliani’s car is very fast, and we seem to be doing well working together and learning from each other. We have a sister program with Dan Wheldon this year, so it has been neat to work with him, as well. We are just inching our way toward it and trying to keep our minds on what is important with finding a good balance and sticking to our plan.” (About the car’s balance): “I think we’re still pretty much in the balance window. I would say we’re toward the aggressive end of our downforce window. Tomorrow we’ll be thinking a lot about trimming out and going faster and getting ready for Saturday. I’m excited for the fans. I’m excited to participate. I’m just excited to watch. I think it’s going to be a great qualifying weekend. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to duke it out just like Indy should be.”
A total of 58 cars are currently at the Speedway, and 53 have passed technical inspection.
Forty drivers were on track today, turning 2,394 laps. Forty drivers have been on track this month, turning 4,873 total laps.
There were three cautions for 54 minutes today.
FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local):
Indianapolis 500 practice
Pole Day Qualifications Draw, Coca-Cola Stage
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.