By Amy Konrath
INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, May 26, 2011) – Bryan Clauson turned only eight laps of practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26, but he was rewarded by the car he will race for the first time in the Firestone Freedom 100.
The 21-year-old resident of Noblesville, Ind., was awarded the Sunoco Pole Award and its $5,000 prize after qualifying was rained out and the field was set by entrant points. The 2010 USAC National Drivers Championship title holder earned the top starting spot thanks to Conor Daly, who leads the Firestone Indy Lights standings and served as driver No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy for the first three races of the season.
“We didn’t get to qualify and get the pole but that’s part of being a part of a great team and having great teammates like Conor Daly to put us up front,” said Clauson, who tested at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 13. “Starting from the front kind of heightens your expectations a little bit. Now you don’t have to work traffic. I’ve got a couple teammates in the lead pack. We watched a lot of race tape with Wade (Cunningham) and saw how teammates can make things happen. Obviously, I want to win but the big key is being there at the end. The first few laps are going to be key.”
Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate Josef Newgarden will line up on the front row while Andretti Autosport’s Stefan Wilson and Team Moore Racing’s Victor Garcia will grid on the second row for the 40-lap race (12:30 p.m. ET on VERSUS and the IMS Radio Network broadcast on indycar.com, Sirius 212 and XM 94).
Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ Esteban Guerrieri and O2 Racing Technology’s Peter Dempsey will make up the third row.
“I think we’re going to be in a strong position tomorrow, but we really wanted to qualify,” Newgarden said. “I think everyone wanted a shot at the pole and we didn’t get that opportunity. We proved in testing that we had a strong car. Sam Schmidt Motorsports is a good Indy Lights team and they have a lot of history in the series and a lot of experience and knowledge to draw from. The (IZOD) IndyCar Series side did a phenomenal job last weekend, and I’m confident that we can handle the job on our end.”
Teams got in about 10 minutes of practice before rains fell over Indianapolis’ 2.5-mile oval. Wilson, who was fastest in the Open Test, led the brief practice session turning a lap at more than 189 mph before the caution flew.
“Kind of mixed feelings about how today went,” Wilson said. “Happy to be starting P3, but we were pretty quick on the test day, and I felt we had a decent chance to start on the front row and a shot at battling for the pole. But at the same time, I am happy to be starting at the sharp end of the grid.”
Teams will have a 30-minute final practice session at 9 a.m.
DAY 10 NOTEBOOK:
Sam Schmidt Motorsports has enlisted the services of former Firestone Indy Lights champions Alex Lloyd and Wade Cunningham to serve as driver coaches for its team of drivers. Lloyd, who won the Firestone Freedom 100 in 2007 and will start his fourth Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, has been coaching Victor Carbone, while Cunningham, a three-time Firestone Freedom 100 champion, has helped with Bryan Clauson, Josef Newgarden and Esteban Guerrieri.
“Now that I’m racing ovals (for Dale Coyne), I can’t spend as much time with him as I’d like, but today is a good day since we have no track activity (for IZOD IndyCar Series.)” said Lloyd. “I’m here to give them tips and tricks of the trade of racing at Indianapolis, how the race goes down, how to deal with traffic, things like that. The guys all know how to drive a race car. You don’t have to teach them how to drive. It’s more about remembering the experiences you had and trying to relate it to the nuances they are experiencing on the track.”
School’s out: Team Moore Racing’s Victor Garcia and Sam Schmidt Motorsports Victor Carbone were happy to get back to the race track not only because it ended the longest period of inactivity for Firestone Indy Lights, but also because it signaled the end of school.
Carbone, one of the youngest drivers in the field, graduated from a Miami-area high school last week while Garcia had to return to Spain to take his final exams.
Indianapolis 500 entry updates:
•Ryan Hunter-Reay has replaced Bruno Junqueira as the driver of the No. 41 A.J. Foyt Enterprises entry. The entry has been renamed ABC Supply/DHL/Sun Drop. Hunter-Reay will started 33rd due to the driver change. Junqueira qualified the car 19th on Pole Day, Saturday, May 21.
•The No. 44 Panther Racing entry driven by Buddy Rice has been renamed Fuzzy’s Vodka/Panther Racing.
•The No. 5 KV Racing Technology-Lotus entry driven by Takuma Sato has been renamed Monavie-KVRT-Lotus.
2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden is planning to attend the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 and will be available for media interviews Sunday morning on the fourth floor of the Media Center. The time of Hayden’s availability will be provided later this week.
Torrential rains Wednesday in Terre Haute, Ind., forced the postponement of the 41st First Financial Bank Tony Hulman Classic AMSOIL USAC National sprint race tonight at the Terre Haute Action Track.
JASON McCORD (Competition director, USAC): “The conditions at the track and the continued forecast for additional rain and storms have left us with no alternatives. We will, however, maintain the tradition of this historic race this year and will have an announcement regarding that soon.”
Fifteen-time Full Throttle NHRA Funny Car champion John Force is bringing the John Force Road Show to the Indianapolis 500 this weekend.
The John Force Road Show will be open during normal spectator viewing times and will be positioned at the corner of 16th Street and Georgetown Road across from the IMS Administration Building. The Road Show is designed to educate fans about all forms of racing.
The John Force Road Show will consist of two 18-wheelers with dual-side awnings. Under the “big tops,” will be a variety of John Force Racing Funny Cars as well as video screens showing race footage. Plans are in the works to add representative race cars from NASCAR and INDYCAR.
JOHN FORCE: “I have never been to the Indy 500, but I know it is unbelievable. I can’t wait to get to The Speedway and check it out. We’ll have our John Force Road Show right beside the racetrack talking about all kinds of motorsports. People want and need to be entertained in these tough economic times, and there isn’t anything more entertaining than two race cars racing down a drag strip or going three-wide into Turn 4. The John Force Road Show is about educating people about all forms of racing. I know drag racing, of course, and we are reaching out to all our friends in NASCAR and INDYCAR to have them provide us with photos, videos and interviews so when we go to malls, airports, state fairs or wherever, people see all sort of information about racing. I want people to walk away from the John Force Road Show excited about going to a race the next time they see a commercial on TV or ad in the newspaper.”
General Motors executives Jim Campbell and Mark Kent met with the media today to discuss the progress of Chevrolet’s return to the IZOD IndyCar Series as an engine supplier in 2012.
JIM CAMPBELL (U.S. vice president, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, General Motors): (On supplying engines to teams): “The engines will be provided directly to the teams from the sole provider of Ilmor. It’s very consistent with how the program is done today.” (On interest in the Chevrolet engine from current teams): “We are talking with all of the prospective teams. Obviously, we’re very pleased that the Penske team is going to be with Chevrolet for 2012. As far as other teams go, it’s very exciting for us to get to know them and them to get to know us and our program. We’ve had very positive responses in our visits, and when we have more news on that front, we will let you know.” (On the future of Chevrolet V8 engines): “Certainly, the V8’s will always be part of the Chevrolet portfolios. It has an amazing history, starting with the small-block V8 in 1955 and the way that many of customers and many businesses have been built around modifying that small-block V8 over time. But I will tell you that the four-cylinder engines, the six-cylinder engines and the advent of the electric vehicle, with its extended capabilities, are all major areas of focus for us. In the last month, over 50 percent of our sales were in the four-cylinder category. Chevrolet is known for its full-size pickups, SUVs and great sports cars, and we’re making great progress in vehicles with four-cylinder engines and six-cylinder engines. It’s exciting to see.” (On the relevance of a V6 IndyCar engine when the brand is focusing on four-cylinder vehicles): “There is a place for V6s, four-cylinders and V8s. We compete in many series in over 12 individual divisions. As we look in the futures of the various series, we see those series looking very seriously at a variety of options on the engine front. It’s going to have a lot to do with what the race fan likes. We’re going to transfer as much as we can and realize that the fans have a big say, as well.”
MARK KENT (Director, GM Racing): “We were here at the Speedway last November when Chevrolet made the announcement about their return to INDYCAR action. Immediately following that announcement, we started a very aggressive plan to develop and produce an all-new Chevrolet engine in time for the start of the 2012 season. I am pleased today to be able to report that our program is on track. We have met every timeline, every milestone and every objective of our plan. We’re excited, and we’re looking forward to continuing to develop the engine toward the objective of being on track next year.” (On the current Month of May schedule and developing a new engine): “I think it’s a good schedule. I’ve been coming to this track for almost 40 years, and I’ve seen all of the schedules. The way it’s laid out now, I think it’s a good schedule for this venue.” (On getting involved with aero kits): “In November, we came out and said that we were fully in support of that concept, and that position has not changed. We’re working with INDYCAR leadership right now to determine when the best time to introduce those aero kits is.” (On where the engines will be built): “The engines are being developed and the components are being produced in England. The engines will be maintained here in North America.”
Paul “Ziggy” Harcus of Andretti Autosport was announced Monday as the winner of the IMIS/C&R Racing “True Grit” Award.
The $5,000 award is annually 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.
Harcus is in his fourth year with Andretti Autosport after spending 2005-07 as the director of operations for CART/Champ Car. Prior to his stint with the sanctioning body, Harcus worked with Kelley Racing, PacWest Racing and Galles Racing.
Paulsen and C&R established the “True Grit” Award in 1998 for crew members in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400.
PAUL “ZIGGY” HARCUS: “I’m honored to win the IMIS/C&R Racing ‘True Grit’ Award. I’ve known Chris for a long time, and he’s a former Indy-car mechanic, so he knows the long hours and sacrifice that go into the job. I’m humbled that I’ve been selected for this award, and it’s certainly nice to be honored by your peers. I want to also thank all the people I work with at Andretti Autosport.”
CHRIS PAULSEN (Owner, C&R Racing; co-founder, International Motorsports Industry Show): “It’s an honor for all of us at IMIS and C&R Racing to present the ‘True Grit’ Award to ‘Ziggy’ Harcus. He represents what the ‘True Grit’ Award is all about and throughout the years has been one of the hardest-working guys in the sport. At IMIS and C&R Racing, we work for the hardcore racer, and ‘Ziggy’ is certainly the definition of that.”
Indianapolis 500 veterans Tony Kanaan and Vitor Meira announced today they were invited to compete in the Ford Ironman World Championship on Oct. 8 in Kona, Hawaii. The event consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile run performed in succession within a maximum of 17 hours.
TONY KANAAN: “Race car drivers, we look at each other and what each other are doing to be better in the race car, and then all the sudden Vitor is training (for the triathlon) and I’m training. We want to do the same, and we copy each other a lot. The great thing is it’s a great opportunity. I think if you’re a race car driver, you want to do the Indy 500, and if you’re a triathlete, you want to do Hawaii. So I’m very fortunate to get the invitation.”
VITOR MEIRA: “I think triathlon and mostly in longer distances, for some the pros are about winning or losing, but it think for most of us, for me and for Tony, it’s about the competition with yourself: To challenge yourself if you can and believe in yourself once you finish. And I think that goes for every sport. So I think it’s important for everyone to know that if you set a goal and it’s pretty hard to do it, then once you finish it, you get confidence and you’ll believe more in yourself, and that’s what Ironman does very well. Once you finish, you really believe in yourself, and I’m very glad to participate and to add this to my life.”
JESSICA WEIDENSALL (President of Global Public Relations, Ironman): “Tony and Vitor show athleticism not only in the INDYCAR circuit but also on the triathlon circuit. This is not only impressive but also exemplifies our mantra that anything is possible.”
FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100 FIELD NOTES:
•This is the first time a Firestone Indy Lights field has been set by entrant points since the Kentucky 100 on Aug. 1, 2009.
•This is the first time in the 9-year history of the Firestone Freedom 100 that qualifying has been rained out.
•The winner of the Firestone Freedom 100 has come from the front row in all eight previous races. Bryan Clauson and Josef Newgarden are starting from the front row tomorrow.
FASTEST TIMES/SPEEDS OF FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100 PRACTICE:
(Practice ended after 10 minutes due to rain)
Pos. Car Name Time Speed
1. 5 Stefan Wilson 47.3789 189.958
2. 28 Duarte Ferreira 47.6207 188.993
3. 11 Josef Newgarden 47.7133 188.627
4. 77 Bryan Clauson47.7202 188.599
5. 26 James Winslow 47.7667 188.416
FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100 STARTING FIELD QUOTES:
BRYAN CLAUSON (No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Curb Records/SSM): “We felt a lot better after practice today than we did after our test earlier. We worked really hard on the test day and never quite got it right. The guys brought back a great race car for us. We didn’t get to qualify and get the pole, but that’s part of being a part of a great team and having great teammates like Conor Daly to put us up front. Starting from the front kind of heightens your expectations a little bit. Now you don’t have to work traffic. I’ve got a couple teammates in the lead pack. We watched a lot of race tape with Wade (Cunningham) and saw how teammates can make things happen. Obviously, I want to win, but the big key is being there at the end. The first few laps are going to be key.” (On starting in the pole position in a race historically won by drivers who started near the front): “The winner probably comes from the first couple of rows because that’s where the fastest car is at, and I feel like we made some big gains today and we have a better car. We’ll find out tomorrow morning where we stack up and how we’re driving. Starting from the front means you can manage your race and your tires all that much better. You don’t have to use it up quickly to make sure you have a chance to win late.” (On driving in both the Firestone Freedom 100 and the Hoosier Hundred race in the same day): “It’s exciting. They are both prestigious races in the state of Indiana. I look at the Hoosier Hundred as the second most prestigious race in Indiana after the Indy 500. It’s a race that has a lot of history, and a lot of dirt track heroes ran that race and were winners there. Doing both the Freedom 100 and the Hoosier Hundred in the same night is going to be cool. I think it’s great that the Speedway and the Fairgrounds have built a ‘BC’s Bandwagon’ ticket package around it. It’s an added bonus for an already-special day in my career.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo-Pong/SSM): “I think we’re going to be in a strong position tomorrow, but we really wanted to qualify. I think everyone wanted a shot at the pole, and we didn’t get that opportunity. We proved in testing that we had a strong car. Sam Schmidt Motorsports is a good Indy Lights team, and they have a lot of history in the series and a lot of experience and knowledge to draw from. The (IZOD) IndyCar Series side did a phenomenal job last weekend, and I’m confident that we can handle the job on our end.” (How much will you and Bryan talk between now and race time?): “I’m sure we will have a lengthy discussion on how we’re going to attack this race. But it’s good to have a teammate alongside so we can work it out.”
STEFAN WILSON (No. 5 Andretti Autosport): “Kind of mixed feelings about how today went. Happy to be starting P3, but we were pretty quick on the test day, and I felt we had a decent chance to start on the front row and a shot at battling for the pole. But at the same time, I am happy to be starting at the sharp end of the grid. From third, we can definitely go well in the race. We’ll see what the conditions are for the race. The main thing is we have to keep it clean for the first half of the race and keep on top of the car and make sure we make the right decisions with the car so we’re in position to win the race.”
CHASE AUSTIN (No. 75 Willy T. Ribbs/Starting Grid, Inc./BAR): “It’s upsetting that we didn’t really get to run today, but hopefully the weather is a bit better tomorrow for the race. I haven’t even gotten to test the setup for the car yet, but we’ll try some laps in the morning practice session and hope for the best in the race.”
BRANDON WAGNER (No. 32 Davey Hamilton Racing, from Lafayette, Ind.): “It will be interesting tomorrow, to say the least. We have a lot of rookies up front and a lot of a guys who haven’t seen the Speedway before from the front row. We have a great race car even though we’re starting 18th and last like we did last year again. It’s disappointing because we know we have a front-running car. I don’t know if we had anything for the pole, but it’s going to be an interesting race coming from the back to the front. I know we can do it. We just need to avoid others’ misfortunes and have some good luck tomorrow.”
INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations Brian Barnhart talked today about double-file restarts for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500.
BRIAN BARNHART (President of Competition and Operations, INDYCAR): “(The drivers’) concerns are valid because it’s their butts on the line out there and it’s the Indy 500, and they want to do everything they can to be in position to win. When you are making efforts to do the best you can for everybody, there is going to be a scenario that just didn’t work out well for someone. I’ve had several conversations with a lot of the drivers about what the process for restarts is going to be like, and there’s a lot of varied opinions on where it should be, how fast it should be, what the spacing should be. Most of the responses to what we’ve proposed has been, ‘That all makes sense.’ But we really don’t know until you put it into practice and try it for the first time. The diversity of the tracks we run adds to the challenge of doing this because of each track’s unique characteristics. It would be easier if we were an all-oval series. While this is a new process and has its challenges, no matter what we do as a series and what we do in terms of laying out the procedure, ultimately it’s in their hands. ” (About consideration of a mid-range RPM, second-gear restart at 115-120 mph): “They will hit the Turn 1 turn-in at about 183 mph. The track at 183 is a lot less line-dependent. They then should have the ability to go through Turn 1 two-wide, and they’ll start to sort it out in the short chute and Turn 2, and then they have the whole five-eighths-mile backstretch to sort it out even further before they get into Turn 3 at terminal velocity. The later we go at 115, then the slower you’ll be in Turn 1, and the slower we make Turn 1, the more congestion you’ll have there. You’re trying to find that balance where they’re not into the most narrow groove with no margin of error, but at the same time you don’t want so much congestion there.”
FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local):
7 a.m. Garages open
9-9:30 a.m. Firestone Freedom 100 practice
11 a.m.-noon Indianapolis 500 final practice
12:30 p.m. Firestone Freedom 100 race (40 laps)
1:30 p.m. IZOD Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge
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, XM channel 94, Sirius channel 212 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.
INDIANAPOLIS – Qualifying results for the Firestone Freedom 100 Firestone Indy Lights event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver. Lineup set by entrant points after qualifications were cancelled due to rain.
1. (77) Bryan Clauson, entrant points
2. (11) Josef Newgarden, entrant points
3. (5) Stefan Wilson, entrant points
4. (22) Victor Garcia, entrant points
5. (7) Esteban Guerrieri, entrant points
6. (36) Peter Dempsey, entrant points
7. (63) Mikael Grenier, entrant points
8. (9) Anders Krohn, entrant points
9. (16) David Ostella, entrant points
10. (4) Jorge Goncalvez, entrant points
11. (26) James Winslow, entrant points
12. (2) Gustavo Yacaman, entrant points
13. (3) Victor Carbone, entrant points
14. (28) Duarte Ferreira, entrant points
15. (12) Juan Pablo Garcia, entrant points
16. (17) Rusty Mitchell, entrant points
17. (75) Chase Austin, entrant points
18. (32) Brandon Wagner, entrant points