POLE DAY NEXT AS DIXON TOPS FAST FRIDAY PRACTICE
INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, May 9, 2008 – Fast Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway lived up to its name as a familiar name topped the charts.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon turned the fastest lap of the month to date (39.6531 seconds; 226.968 mph) to lead practice the day before Pole Day for the second consecutive year.
Thirty-three cars totaled 1,033 laps on a day sliced almost in half because of rain for the third consecutive day. The first- and 11th-best times (Helio Castroneves; 40.1757 seconds/224.016 mph) were separated by 0.5226 of a second, and there was only a 0.8701 of a second difference between first and 22nd (EJ Viso; 40.5232 seconds/222.095 mph).
Marco Andretti, who posted the quickest time May 6, the last day cars were on the track, was second-fastest (39.6983 seconds; 226.710 mph) in the No. 26 Indiana Jones car for Andretti Green Racing.
Tony Kanaan (39.7022; 226.688) was third in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car, while the other two AGR cars were fifth (Hideki Mutoh, 225.990) and eighth (Danica Patrick, 224.744). 2005 Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon (225.674) was sixth, Panther Racing's Vitor Meira (224.811) seventh, Luczo Dragon Racing's Tomas Scheckter (224.712) ninth, and Rahal Letterman Racing's Ryan Hunter-Reay (224.125) 10th.
Two on-track incidents brought out yellow flags during practice. The No. 96 entry driven by Mario Dominguez spun exiting pit lane and made light contact with the inside wall. The No. 16 car driven by Alex Lloyd spun in Turn 1 and made heavy contact with the SAFER Barrier. Lloyd remained at Methodist Hospital for observation in the early evening after X-rays of his neck showed no fractures. Dominguez was uninjured.
The first 11 starting positions for the 92nd Indianapolis 500 and the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award presented by AutoZone - and its $100,000 prize – will be up for grabs on May 10. Positions 12-22 will be filled May 11. *** John Andretti, who made seven consecutive starts in the Indianapolis 500 from 1988-94 and returned for an eighth start last year, is at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
JOHN ANDRETTI: “I have taken the physical, but I’m too short. I’m working on height. I’m trying to get something put together. I think with everything good that happens, there’s always something with a little bit of a flip side. I think with reunification there’s not an engine shortage, there’s not a tire shortage, there’s a car shortage now. So people are struggling to get extra efforts together. The people that already have them already have them locked in. The opportunity that I had put together in April kind of took a change because of some things. So, whatever. It’s frustrating. Today hasn’t been a good morning. Right now, my enthusiasm is pretty low because I really want to be here, and I should have just went to Darlington, to be honest with you. Right now, I just feel like a man on an isla nd. It is what it is, and it’s more than a little bit frustrating because it’s a race you don’t want to miss being in, especially when you have the desire, like I do, to be in it.” (About opportunities after first week qualifying): “I doubt it. I mean, we’ll see and that’s one of the things we’ll definitely keep investigating, but honestly, I really doubt it. I think that’s something that’s probably not going to happen like it does normally because, again, it comes down to equipment.” *** 2004 Indianapolis 500 pole and race winner Buddy Rice talked about the challenges of qualifying for the race.
BUDDY RICE: “If it’s not scary in qualifying, you’re not going fast enough.” *** The IndyCar Series has partnered with non-partisan, non-profit youth voting campaign Declare Yourself to create public service announcements. Drivers Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, Ed Carpenter and Ryan Hunter-Reay recorded the PSAs, and the drivers have registered to vote at declareyourself.com. An original copy of the Declaration of Independence will be on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, offering an opportunity to learn about its historical significance and contemporary relevance. Belonging to Declare Yourself founder, producer Norman Lear, the document is one of the 25 remaining original copies of the Declaration of Independence created on the evening of July 4, 1776.
Additionally, visitors will be able to interact with an entertaining and educational multimedia exhibit. An informative video hosted by actress Reese Witherspoon, a descendant of one of the original signers of the document, explains the history and contemporary relevance of the Declaration, and a 14-minute film produced by Lear and Rob Reiner features a powerful theatrical reading of the Declaration of Independence by a distinguished group of actors, including Mel Gibson, Morgan Freeman, Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Spacey, Michael Douglas, and Renee Zellweger, among others.
MARC MORGENSTERN (Executive Director, Declare Yourself): “The Indianapolis 500 is one of the great sports traditions in our country. Millions of young people are fans of the IndyCar Series, and we couldn’t have a bigger platform than this exciting race to get our message out. The recent presidential primary in Indiana brought out an unprecedented number of young voters, and we believe our Indy PSAs will keep young fans engaged as we race toward the election.”
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola): “I’m registering with Declare Yourself because it’s something very important. Just register and vote – it’s the only way you can have any part in what you want out of this country. In the time it takes me to do one lap around this track, you could have already voted.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Indiana Jones presented by Blockbuster): “As a race car driver, I think I have less patience than most people I know. It doesn’t matter who you vote for, just go to DeclareYourself.com. It’s that easy. Just do it. If I have the patience to do it, I think anybody can.” GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps): “I think it’s critical for everybody to register and vote. A lot of people sit back and think that it’s not going to matter, but if you don’t put your vote in – yeah, you’re right – it’s not going to matter. So you might as well go out and do your best.” ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Menards/Vision Racing): “My family has always been passionate at election time. I remember being a little kid and staying up late watching the polls. It’s exciting when you finally get old enough to go have the chance to vote – you really feel like your vote means something. I always thought voting was a long, drawn-out process but it’s really not.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol): “You’ve been given the opportunity for your voice to be heard. If you’re not taking advantage of that, you’re only short-changing yourself and your future. So get out and vote.” *** Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to help kick off this year’s Vision Racing Wellness Tour. The Vision Racing Wellness Tour will allow race fans to receive free cholesterol and glucose screenings at IMS, courtesy of Vision Racing, CardioChek® home cholesterol test system and Kroger. Screenings will be conducted in MotoGP Garage 33 and will be available from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Friday, May 9; Saturday, May 10; Saturday, May 17; Wednesday, May 21 and Friday, May 23, and from 8 a.m.-noon Sunday, May 25.
ROBERT S. HUFFSTODT (President and CEO of Polymer Technology Systems, makers of CardioChek and an associate sponsor of Vision Racing): “It’s indicative of the appropriateness of the name Vision Racing. It’s something we’re very proud to be a part of, and we are very happy to see it expand across the country this year with the IndyCar Series. We’ve tested about 40 million people around the world, and this is kind of bringing it home during the Month of May. It is a growing consensus among healthcare professionals that testing really needs to begin at a younger age, and that is due to diet and exercise patterns. So things like triglycerides can be an indicator of the onset of diabetes. We have a consumer model that tests cholesterol and triglycerides, and we have the professional model that screeners use that you can test many things from one drop of blood. It used to be drawing two tubes of blood and sending that off to the lab and waiting a week or two. This is two minutes from one drop of blood, and they’ve perfected the technology that you don’t even feel it. It’s so immediate, which is important and effective. If you’re in front of your healthcare provider, you can get that advice on the spot and both parties benefit.”
TONY GEORGE (Founder & CEO of Indy Racing League and co-owner of Vision Racing): “We’re hoping to raise awareness with CardioChek. We’re very excited about the platform that we started last year and are growing this year. Growing our partnership with CardioChek and Kroger this season has allowed us to further embrace a health and wellness platform and create the Vision Racing Wellness Tour. Starting at Indianapolis, we will utilize the balance of the IndyCar Series season to complete cholesterol and glucose screenings, free of charge, for our fans. It’s a unique sponsorship that has the potential to leave quite an impression.”
MITCH DANIELS (Indiana Governor): “We can do all we can individually to encourage people to get healthier, but we need organizations, companies, schools and communities to bring people along the wellness trail wholesale. Nobody reaches more people in the Month of May than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We’re real excited in the state because recently we’ve seen a decline in cigarette consumption and some improvement in obesity. We know it will be a long trail, but efforts like this are central to making real progress. Being screened is the best way to remind yourself to take care of yourself. Cholesterol screening is one of the most important, simple and quick things to do, but it tells you a lot. It’s something you can do something about if your number is not so good. You can make a real impact fairly quickly by modifying what you eat, m aybe a little more active and there are some medicines that can help.” *** Mel Kenyon, an eight-time starter in the Indianapolis 500 who finished third in 1968, returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this morning. Kenyon’s wife, Joy, rode in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater.
MEL KENYON: (About knowing wife Joy got to experience a trip around the IMS in an IndyCar): “She has wanted to do this for three years now, and today was her opportunity. Just to give her a sense of the speed and the narrowness of the racetrack, it will be fun for her.” (About role reversal now with him watching Joy on the track): “It’s different. They are only going about 175 (miles per hour) average, and we used to go a lot faster. It’s going to be enjoyable for her to sit in the thing, let alone going that fast. It’s going to be interesting as heck. She asked me if she needed to wear a diaper.” (About the two-seat IndyCar Riding Experience): “We have built two-seat midget and sprint cars, but never in IndyCar. It’s been around for three or four years, and it’s inter esting because a lot of people wouldn’t have the chance to do this otherwise.” JOY KENYON: (About the experience of riding around on the track): “It was the most awesome thing I have done in my entire life. I could have gone 10 more laps. I finally got to experience what Mel experienced on the track years ago.” (About the role reversal): “He’s just so desensitized to racing, it’s just another day at the track for him. This was something I wanted to do for years.” (About traveling 180 mph around the track): “I had an idea. When I was younger I used to drive fast, and I have a couple of tickets to show for it. It’s just such an awesome feeling when you get up to full speed and realize you are going around the Indy 500 track. And Arie (Luyendyk Jr.) was my driver, and I have to say thank you to him for the ride.” (About h aving two Kenyons experiencing a trip around the IMS track): “Well, he doesn’t have anything on me anymore.” *** Pete Loeffler, a member of the band Chevelle, was today’s honorary starter.
PETE LOEFFLER: “I shouldn't say it, but I probably have done about a buck fifty on the highway once, maybe a couple of times. It's been a while, but no, nothing like that. I've been an IndyCar fan ever since my dad brought home a little diecast model of A.J. Foyt's IndyCar, so I've been a fan for a really long while.” (About changing name of band from Chevelle to IndyCar): “I think we're going to stick with Chevelle for a while, but I'm actually really bummed that I'm not going to actually see the race. We have a show in Charlotte coming up on the 25th, otherwise I would love to be here.”
*** The garage area at the Speedway isn’t just a place for teams and their crews to call home during the month of May. Many racing-related companies are also located there, ready to provide the teams with whatever products or services they need. From Impact Racing, which manufactures racing gear such as driver suits, shoes and gloves, to Bell Racing, which manufactures helmets, commerce is always healthy for racing companies in the IMS garage area.
Even the smaller companies flourish by having direct access to their customer base. KEN JOHNSON (SWE Race Car Parts): “We try to provide consumable items, electrical items and hardware for the teams – from fluids and tape to just about anything. We use this space as a store front and a place for the teams to drop off parts to have them worked on. We have people running back and forth daily delivering parts to the shop off-site, then back to the teams.” *** Following an incident on pit road with the No. 7 car, Dale Coyne Racing crew member Charles Buckman was evaluated at the Clarian Emergency Medical Center.
Medical update from Dr. Mike Olinger, senior medical director for the Indy Racing League: Buckman is being transported to Methodist Hospital to be treated for a concussion and scalp and facial lacerations. Buckman is awake and alert.
CHUCK BUCKMAN (Chief Mechanic, No. 19 The SONNY Car): “I really don’t remember how it happened. All I remember is I was talking with someone on Marco Andretti’s team, and then everything is blank from that point. I will be OK and hopefully back to work in a day or two.”
DALE COYNE (Owner, Dale Coyne Racing): “Our thoughts and prayers are with Chuck and his family. Hopefully we can get him back in our pit soon.”
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola): “(About pit road incident): “It was really, really unfortunate what happened today. Thoughts and prayers are with him, with his family, and hopefully he can get back to the track soon and be able to do what he loves.” *** 2003 Indianapolis 500 champion Gil de Ferran returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. GIL DE FERRAN: “It is very touching to be here today. I guess the last time I was sitting here in this chair was a very memorable day. Certainly a day that is going to be with me till the end of my days. It's very emotional to be sitting here today and getting ready for our upcoming race on May 18. I'm a little short on words today. I'm looking around and thinking, ‘Wow.’ My years at Team Penske were great years.
Helio (Castroneves) and I were together there for four years that I was there. He continues on, and I believe he's now the second-longest Penske driver in history behind (Rick) Mears. Helio and I, the friendship you saw from the outside was not only for show. To this day he remains one of my best friends. Obviously, I have a soft spot for him and for the team in general. Every time I come here I'm like, ‘OK, how are you guys gettin g on?’ Needless to say, we enjoyed a lot of success here. We raced here three times and finished first and second twice. In '02, the year he won, we were both in contention throughout the race. It was good days. It's funny because it seems like it was yesterday, but if you think about it it's been quite a few years.
(About emotion on winning Indy): “I pride myself on being a rational guy. I try to be rational under every circumstance, no matter how desperate or elating it may be, but at the end of the day, emotion is what drives you. You have to have a good steering head, but emotion is the fuel that pushes you forward. The circumstances that led to the 500 that year and the whole buildup of the month is what I remember the most. If you recall, I had quite a large accident in Phoenix two races prior to the 500. I broke my neck and my back and had a very severe concussion. I had to miss one race, and the 500 was my first race back. All the way from the first day o f practice, opening day, where I was, frankly, not feeling w! ell I di dn't think I was driving well at all, and I was thinking that my career was going to end right here and right now. To the end of the month where, frankly, I was in some pain, to winning that race. It was a long, emotionally charged journey. It was one of the great tiers of my life. When you come from a hospital bed with everything aching to winning the biggest race in the world, that feeling is going to stay with me forever.”
(About transition from road racing): “It's a funny thing. Some road racers seem to adapt very well to ovals, and in fact some road racers end up becoming better oval racers than road racers. I've seen that happen in the past, so I guess I can only speak from my own experience. In road racing, you tend not to run any high-speed corners. Most corners, particularly these days, are low-gear corners and low-to-medium speed turns. You come to a place like this, and you're wide open over 220 miles per hour, and it's a unique experience - something y ou haven't experienced before. It takes a while to adapt. The other thing is that in road racing, most guys run with a little more understeer because you need the traction to get out of the corners. You get used to, what we call, leaning on the front. It's a common road racing driving technique. In an oval, at the end of the day, as they say here, loose is fast.
If you can keep it off the fence, people say that jokingly, but you have to learn how to run the car very, very neutral. And very, very neutral is one step below being loose. It's not easy getting comfortable and running with a car that neutral. If your heart rate starts to go up and you get a little anxious, you tend to jerk the steering wheel a little more and that makes the car even more difficult to drive, so learning how to run a very neutral car in high speeds with people around you with a low heart rate is certainly a challenge. (About unification): “I have several comments about that. I had an experienc e just outside of here when the guys started running. There ! was a gu y who came through with driving overalls on and I was like, ‘Who's that?’ Frankly, I didn't recognize the guy, and I had no idea who he was. Then I said, ‘You know, I shouldn't be prejudiced.’
The first time I was here, there were probably people who didn't know who the heck I was. You've got to start somewhere, and that's the way the sport is. New guys come in, and some will become big stars and others won't. That's the way the story is. Ultimately, we have a whole new generation of drivers who are doing the 500 this year, and several of them I don't recognize and don't know who they are, but you never know. One of these guys, a few years down the road, might turn out to be a 500 winner and capture the imagination of the public and the fans like my friend Helio did. When he showed up here, nobody knew who he was. That's just the way the sport is.
There's a constant renewal of talent and so on and so forth. As far as the unification is concerned, from my standpoint, having one IndyCar Series, I know they've had different names, but having one IndyCar Series was always a key step to the success of this sport. Some teams have experienced some pain going to one series, but I think, in the long run, it's an absolutely necessary step for the success of the sport. I'm very excited about it. My friend Jay Penske, I went to see him and he was way down here. I was like, ‘Man, there's a lot of cars here.’ I had to walk all the way, nearly to Turn 4 to go see him. That's a good thing. There's no two ways about it. That's a good thing. I think that hopefully the series will be on the up and up in the years to come.”
(About rookie year): “My memories were how tough it was. I had very little oval experience. To the point that I had just run one oval, I think at Phoenix, as well. The month was long, and we had a lot of time to prepare. Johnny Rutherford was a good guiding hand when I first got here as a rookie. I think more than the competition, at that time, I just rememb! er how&n bsp;difficult it was for me to feel comfortable and at one with the track to the point where I could push to my own limits. Eventually, I got there. It was difficult because one day you are comfortable, and the next day the wind shifts, and you are going, ‘What's going on here.’
Frankly, as a rookie, to take that all in - the cars are changing, the track's changing, the wind's changing, it's a big deal to try to put it all together. You put one foot in front of the other. We had a very strong field that year. I got in the field, and unfortunately we got involved in the first lap accident with Stan Fox and Eddie Cheever. It was a horrific accident, and I collected one of the tires. I was actually on the pit exit road, completely out of the accident because I saw it developing on the horizon. Again, Johnny said, ‘You've got to look forward.’ I was starting the race looking as far ahead as I could, and I saw the accident developing. I remember looking in my mirrors and thinking,
‘OK, nobody is going to collect me.’ Downshifting and getting down into the pit road, but unfortunately a wheel came down and took my front suspension off, and that was it, the end of the race. I guess the other big memory was walking out of the motor home on Race Day. I'd never been to the Indy 500 before. I got here, as most guys do, I got to the track very early to beat traffic. Very early in the morning, certainly too early in my book.
It was like 6 o'clock, and we're here already. So I went into the motor home to take a rest before the race, and at 6 a.m. there's not that many people here. I can't remember, I think it was 9 or 10 o'clock when I got out and I looked outside, and I couldn't believe the amount of people and the different atmosphere, and for a young driver to try to bring your emotions in control and get your focus for the race in this great atmosphere, you can't help it, it grabs you. It's very difficult, but at the end of the day, you have to strap yourself in the car and try t! o start the race like you start any other race. One of the biggest challenges I ever had was to try to bring my emotions in control coming up to the start of the race here as a rookie.” *** Lifelong racing fan Mark Minzes of Indianapolis, who is blind, took a ride in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater car today at IMS. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk drove Minzes around the 2.5-mile oval at speed. Indianapolis 500 veteran and current Firestone Indy Lights-Indianapolis 500 team owner Sam Schmidt, a quadriplegic due to a racing accident, spoke with Minzes before his ride.
MARK MINZES: (On his experience in the IndyCar two-seater): “The two-seater was fabulous! I’m a little hoarse right now from screaming. Being stuffed down there was a different feeling, and once you get going and take off, I’ve not experienced anything like that in my life. I’ve been on a lot of roller coasters and rides in my life, but that definitely takes the cake of any coaster or car ride I have ever had.”
(On if this was one of the greatest things he had ever done): “Most definitely. We are very passionate race fans, myself, my wife and my kids, and very passionate about this place and the history that is here. We live nearby, and we’re blessed to have this in our backyard. This was one heck of a ride for me.” (About how this opportunity to ride came about): “We met Mr. (Mike) King from the (IMS) Radio Network at the Indiana State Mus eum. We got the idea going, and he made it happen.”
(About entering corners at speed): “I am a person who is blind, so feeling the car in the turns and tracks is different. I’ve been on the track before, on the bus tour at the Museum, but up to speed like that, you definitely feel the turns and feel the g-force. The turns are a little different. It was sensational. I thought the turns would feel the same. You think of an oval, and think all turns should be the same. But Arie Luyendyk was my driver, and I got to talk to him after the ride and he told me that he took a different line in Turns 1 and 2 then he did in 3 and 4, and you can definitely feel it. The corners are awesome.”
SAM SCHMIDT: “It’s nice to see his disability is not keeping him from what he loves to do, and that’s a lot about what we preach with our foundation and our program. If you have any form of disability, it’s certainly not an ideal situation, but you just have to get out there and do it, stay active, and you might just have to get a little more creative and figure out how to do things like he is doing right now. He’s not like anyone else. He’s going to have a fantastic time and have a lot to say about it, I’m sure.”
(On the feeling Minzes was going to experience in the car): “Because he doesn’t have his sight, I would imagine his other senses and other abilities to perceive things are going to be heightened. It’s going to be a thrill. He’ll probably feel the g-forces more than somebody who has their sight. You pretty much sit here for 10 minutes and remember why I started racing in the first place. It’s the excitement of competition and what we love about the speed. Even though it’s not at 220 (miles per hour), that’s quite a thrill, and you could certainly see that on his expression when he got out of the car.” *** INDYCAR SERIES END-OF-DAY QUOTES:
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): “I guess Mother Nature is just not cooperating with us this week. It's too bad we couldn't run more today. I would have liked to have done a few more things out there, but I still think we're in good shape for tomorrow. I'm not concerned with the other drivers' speeds today, because I think a lot of them were getting tows. It'll be interesting to see who has what during qualifying tomorrow. It is what it is, and it's the same for everyone. We'll use the short practice session in the morning to our advantage and see what we can do. It would be the best birthday present tomorrow if I could put the #3 Team Penske car on the front row.” (Castroneves turns 33 tomorrow)
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske): “It was great to get back out on the track today after a couple of days off. We went out to continue working on our qualifying setup, and we were really happy with the balance and speed of the car. As a result, we didn't want to risk anything by running in traffic too much and called it a day after 24 laps. It will definitely be interesting to see how much everyone gambles tomorrow given the fact that the weather isn't looking so good for Sunday. Overall, we're cautiously optimistic about our chances.”
JAY HOWARD (No. 24 Roth Racing): “Well, more rain. We were sort of counting on the hours this afternoon. I think that's important for us, but I think we'll be fine.”
(About driving in traffic): “It's always a little bit harder, especially when you come out on a new run and there's cars circulating. It does make it difficult to get in a groove without trying to screw anyone else up. Several times I went down to the apron, just to try to stay out of people's way. There's other drivers out there not doing the same for me, which isn't very nice, but whatever. That kind of makes it difficult trying to get up to speed, get the tires up to temperature and all that, but once you're going, it feels pretty good.”
(About qualifying tomorrow): “To be honest, I don't know. I doubt we're going to run any qualifying attempts.”
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (No. 96 Visit Mexico City/Pacific Coast Motorsports): “I am really disappointed. I was returning to the track for our second full run, and I exited too fast coming out of the pits. I lost the rear of the car and crashed into the inside wall. I got a few laps at speed, and this is so unfortunate because we were on the way to making our car better. Everyone is telling me to keep my patience. We are already behind, and I guess I was trying to rush it back out there. We are working hard, and we have a lot of work to do.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology): “I am very happy with today’s practice, especially compared to the last time we were on track. KV Racing Technology made some changes that really improved the car. We didn’t get too many runs today, but the car felt really, really, really good. We still have a little bit more to trim, and then I think we are going to have decent speed. However, it is hard to tell because everyone gets towed, and we did too, but I am happy with how the KVRT car feels, and that is the most important thing. I think tomorrow the pole position will be mid-225 mph, and I think we may have a shot at being in the top 15, and if we do it right we could be in the top 11.”
WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyard-Team Australia): “It was not a very productive day for the KV Racing Technology Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia guys. There were a lot of yellows this afternoon, and then the rain came, so we didn’t get the track time we needed. That put us back a bit. There were also a lot of cars running around in tows today, so it is really hard to get a feel for what speeds people are actually running. It is going to be very interesting tomorrow.”
VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Delphi National Guard): “Man, our car is fast. The only issue we had is in Turn 1, where the car is pushing, but in the other three turns the car is great. On our fastest lap, I even lifted a little in 1, so I know we're going to be quick tomorrow. I don't know where we'll end up because there are a lot of quick cars out here, but we feel like we can get in the show tomorrow. It's always a fun day.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol): “It was a step forward that we really needed today. We made some big strides and really helped our confidence heading into tomorrow. We went back to basics and used some of our data from Homestead, and it made a big difference. It was a pretty impressive time on our own, but we still have some work to do if we want to challenge for a front-row spot.”
BOBBY RAHAL (Co-owner, Rahal Letterman Racing): “I’m disappointed for Alex and his team and crew. He’d been doing such a good job and was going well, but we’ll fix the car and get ready for tomorrow. I thought Ryan had a particularly strong day today and there’s a lot of confidence growing there. We’ve been playing it fairly conservatively so far, but I think we’ll have a strong chance to be in the top 11 tomorrow.”
MARTY ROTH (No. 25 Roth Racing): “We had a lousy day. It's not what we expected, but it's Indy. We're just battling through it. We were really counting on today as far as peeling some downforce off, and we really haven't been able to do that. We went to the first stage, and we had about four more stages to go today and we just didn't get there. We'll take another shot at it tomorrow.”
(About qualifying Saturday): “I hope we can go for it tomorrow. It depends on how far we get peeling the downforce off. We just have to get very aggressive. We're just going to have to make a call on it. See what's happening and go through the date. The problem is that after the first session today, we went out and we lost our data and we didn't really have much to go on. We came back and had to fix it and went back out, so that early morning session was a bit of a waste. We just had to take it from there. We're behind the eight ball. We're just going to have to suck it up, take a big jump and see where it lands us tomorrow. We've been qualifying real well. We did well at Kansas and we did well at Homestead, so we were looking forward to doing it again here and having the luxury of doing some full-tank testing and putting the car in traffic, rather than trying to qualify for the two weeks. We're still looking forward to next week of building a race car, not a qualifying car.”
MARIO MORAES (No. 19 The SONNY Car): “Yeah, it’s my first time here, so I am excited. It’s a different track from all the other tracks I have been on. It’s a superspeedway. I feel like we were developing the car, but the low points have obviously been losing the past two days. The good point is that we have been able to work on the car and get better. We were just starting to put the qualifying setup on the car when it started to rain.” (On practicing enough to be comfortable in the car): “I’ve been able to get in my zone out there, and we are really proud of what we are doing. We feel like we can qualify this weekend. Tomorrow? Maybe not, but definitely on Sunday.”
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 2 Vision Racing): “I'm glad we got at least a half of a day running in, and I think we definitely made some improvements to the car from our first day out. Now that we've got the car right, it's just a matter of finding more speed. I'm happy with how the day went and happy with the car. We've got a long way to go, but the Vision team is definitely on the right path.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Menards/Vision Racing): “Opening Day was a bit of a tough day for us, so I've been dying to get back on track after two days of rain. We had a ton of things to try, and I'm much happier with our Menards Vision car, but I still feel like we have a lot left that we need to try. We'll take a leap of faith with some of the stuff tomorrow in practice and qualifying and see where we end up.”
DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 22 Hewlett-Packard/KR Vision Racing): “It's a bit of a disappointment because I expected to have more speed than we have had, but the good thing is I've been here a lot and I won't let it get me worried. This is Indy, and things change fast. What has me confident is the times I did in the car were done on my own without any tow. At this point Ed (Carpenter) and Anthony (Foyt) went a little faster by trimming out and doing qualifying sims while I worked on trying out more aerodynamic parts. We want to be in that top 11, and I still really think we can do it. It's going to take a lot of work, but I'm hoping things will go our way. It's probably just one small adjustment, but these Vision engineers are smart and they’re looking at everything, and I have faith they'll find it.”
MAX PAPIS (No. 44 Rubicon Race Team/Lifelock): “Today is only my second day with the car. The engineers and crew haven’t worked on this car all year long, so I think they have done an awesome job so far. Everyone would like to see faster numbers on the board, but to put it in the wall here it takes very little, so we need to find a compromise since we don’t have a backup car here. I think tomorrow’s pole speed is going to be very fast, especially if the track is fresh. We are definitely going to run tomorrow. We just need a few extra hours of dry practice. We are right on time with what we want to do. We have a great race car, but we just need a little more time to find a little more speed for qualifying, and we are approaching things very methodically.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “It's been a great start for our team, in general. Two wins, and I think we could have a lot more throughout the season. To be fast on Fast Friday, I've been in that spot before, and it didn't work out well in the past. Hopefully, we don't carry that tradition on. Today, as these guys said earlier, was kind of a tow-fest. It was very hard to get clear laps. I maybe had a couple of clear laps the whole day today, and I think we could see everybody's speed fell off when they were by themselves. The team seems pretty focused. I think in the morning we need to decide if we have a legit shot at pole and whether we're going to go for it. I don't think we're going to waste tires and energy going for it if we don't think we have a clear shot at it. I think last year we worked on it in the morning session, and we struggled a little bit for qualifyin g because of the weather conditions. I think we sort of planned to be a little more safe so far, and that's going to help us tomorrow for the balance and things like that. We'll just have to see how it goes. Right now, we're happy being in the top three on both days. It's a shame we haven't had more clear weather so we don't have everyone running on the track."
(About potential of re-qualifying): "Most people are going to throw one in the bag try to put up a good, solid effort. I know we did that last year. This year is going to be such a mess. The problem isn't going to be us running for the pole. The problem for our teams and people in our same situation are the 20 or 22 or more cars running for 11th spot. They're going to clog up the lines, so we're going for a safe one early on. Well, that's what I want to do. I'll have to check with the team on what we would like to do, and then we'll come back and gamble later. But that's if we're happy with the first attemp t and then feel like we can come back later. The weather goi! ng to be cooler, and the track condition will be nice, so you may see some big time numbers later.”
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “There’s not been much track time, so it has been unfortunate for the fans and certainly people who want to be on track, which I’m one of. This is obviously a great place to drive around. We’re just working toward qualifying, and I don’t think the tires are such an issue now with all the rain. We’ve definitely got plenty of tires to throw at it tomorrow, and that’s what we’ll do. Everybody at Target Chip Ganassi Racing has worked very hard to get good race cars and fast race cars so we can qualify up front. I think we’d be letting those guys down if we didn’t really go for it. We definitely feel that we have a car capable of the pole. We just have to see how everything plays out tomorrow.” (With the rain again today, do you approach tomorrow morning differently with a completely c lean track?): “Nah, it’s just the same for everybody. It doesn’t matter how green the track is. If your car has a good balance, you’ll be quick anyway.”
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 Dreyer & Reinbold William Rast Racing): “I very pleased with our car. I only got in two runs today before the rain hit. Buddy (Rice) and I are on the same page with the setup, and we like our cars. It is great working with Buddy. His feedback is so good, and we have been able to exchange information freely. Out of the box today, I ran a 223.5 on older tires. We put on new Firestones, and I was on a hot lap. But Ryan Hunter-Reay had a problem and slowed right in front of me. So I didn’t get the flying lap I wanted. I felt like I was at least in the 224-plus range. I think Buddy and I are looking for a top-11 qualifying spot. It would be great to get in the field on the first day of qualifying.”
BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): “We were able to get some clean laps late in our runs. With all of the drafts out there, it’s hard to tell who is fast by themselves. There are some very stout cars out there. But we were able to run pretty close to them. The Ganassi cars are really strong. They should be the favorites for the pole. I thought it would take a 225-plus to win the pole. But now I think it will be a 224.5 to win it. The conditions were good today. So you saw some good speeds. By yourself and running four laps, I think you’ll see the number drop. Both Townsend (Bell) and I have been working well together, and we ran speeds very close today. I think we both have a good shot as first-day qualifiers. That is our goal.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Indiana Jones presented by Blockbuster): “The Indiana Jones/Blockbuster car has definitely shown signs of consistency right from the start, which is definitely a positive. No big changes, just kind of tinkering away at it. We’re really just working on what I’m sure the majority of the field is working on right now – just taking off downforce and trying to keep the balance to remain good. And so far so good. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll roll off the same. I think we’re ready to go, which is definitely good. So bring on tomorrow. The good thing is we’ve remained consistent. We haven’t changed much since we ran Tuesday. I was a little bit concerned, because we know how Indy can be rolling off with the same exact car even an hour later can be a pretty big change. But it remained a good balance.”
(About Pole Day strategy) : “I’m sure like everybody else, my first attempt I’m going to go for it, but expecting to have to go again. I just want to get it in on the first day, but obviously the pole would be huge. I’m not sure if I get bumped to second that I would line up again. But having said that, I’m not sure that we’ll be exactly safe three-quarters through the day even if we’re fifth. So I’ll definitely be prepared to go again.”
(Toughest competitor for pole): “That’s the beauty of IndyCar racing – you don’t know. It could be one of 22 guys or girls. It’s going to be really tough. All I can do is maximize myself in the car, same as everybody else. It’s going to be what it’s going to be. We’re going to be going for it. If my first run is not good enough, be looking for me again.”
(Will you be the next big story of the series?): “I don’t really always look for the media side of things; I want to win races. And where I happen to be is ! a place that I live my whole life around. I don’t want to win for the media; I want to win this for myself. Same with every race. That’s how I go in to every race. That’s how we look at it. This race to me means more than words can speak. My family has been trying to win this longer than I’ve been around. This place means a lot to our family.”
MILKA DUNO (No. 23 CITGO/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): “We have a better car than Tuesday. We've made great improvements for today's practice, and my team is working very hard to increase the car's speed and performance. I think we’ll continue to improve during the weekend.” JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald’s Racing Team): “Today was OK. The weather conditions were very different from when we ran earlier in the week so the McDonald’s car was feeling very different. We slowly worked through it, and I thought we were reasonable at the end. I was happy with the balance at the end, and the speed was getting better. It just takes time to adapt to these different conditions. We don’t have the experience to call upon to make the big jump. We’ve got to take one small step after another. I think the pole will be right at 225 mph, maybe 224.5.” GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps): “I think that overall it was a pretty good day. We got a lot of time on track despite the rain. We’re still trying to find speed, unfortunately. I don’t know when it’s going to come but I hope we find it. I think the pole speed will be 225-something (mph). I could be wrong, but I think the people doing 226s (mph) are getting a tow to do that. I would guess it will be a high 225 like last year.” E.J. VISO (No. 33 PDVSA HVM Racing): “Well, we were really unlucky. We just went out there a couple of laps. We came to the garage to do a couple of trimmings just to go out and look for a reasonable time, and then the water came down.” (Regarding the plan for tomorrow morning): “Trim the car down, yeah, as much as possible and let’s see what the numbers say. Maybe we qualify tomorrow; maybe not.” TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven): “I’m very happy with the Team 7-Eleven car. We would like to have gotten more time on the track, but you never know what kind of weather you are going to get in Indianapolis. We’ve had two very productive days this week, and we feel good with the car we have.” TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 12 Symantec Luczo Dragon Racing): “I am really happy with today. We ran into some issues this morning, but everyone worked very well together and got us back on the track. We’re a little bit off of where we want to be for qualifying, but we’re getting close. We pushed it a little bit today, and we’ll do a little bit more tomorrow. We just met for 45 minutes, and I am extremely confident we’ll find some things that will make us even quicker.” (About being called a dark horse): “I led this race for 80 laps my first year and I led it again for 70 laps, so I have been a dark horse a few times. What it means is that we have a good team. I am proud of the Symantec crew. They are a great sponsor. We put this great group together in a short period of time, and we have a very competitive car. Hopefully that will all add up to a dark horse c elebrating in Victory Lane on May 25.” *** FASTEST SPEEDS OF THE DAY:
Pos. Car Name Speed 1. 9 Scott Dixon 226.968 mph 2. 26 Marco Andretti 226.710 mph 3. 11 Tony Kanaan 226.688 mph 4. 6 Ryan Briscoe 226.143 mph 5. 27 Hideki Mutoh 225.990 mph
*** PEAK MOTOR OIL POLE SPEED PREDICTIONS:
Marco Andretti 225.2 mph Ryan Briscoe 225.3 mph Ed Carpenter 224.8 mph – Scott Dixon Helio Castroneves 225.1 mph A.J. Foyt IV Low 225 mph – Tony Kanaan Davey Hamilton 225.3 mph – Scott Dixon Darren Manning 225.5 mph Vitor Meira 225 range Will Power 225 mph Graham Rahal High 225 mph Oriol Servia Mid 225 mph Justin Wilson 224.5-225 mph
*** A total of 35 cars are currently at the Speedway and have passed technical inspection. Thirty-three drivers have been on the track to date and have turned 3,734 laps this month. Will Power turned 32 laps today and has turned 236 laps this month, most of any driver. A total of 96 IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights drivers have passed physicals at the Clarian Emergency Medical Center. ***
SATURDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local): 7 a.m. Public Gates Open 9-9:30 a.m. IndyCar Series practice (1st ½ of Qualifying Draw) 9:30-10 a.m. IndyCar Series practice (2nd ½ of Qualifying Draw) 10-11 a.m. IndyCar Series practice (All cars) Noon-6 p.m. PEAK Motor Oil Pole Qualifying 6:15 p.m. Second Day Qualifying Draw
*** The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The race will be telecast live in High Definition at noon (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes.
The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 23 at Indianapolis. It will be telecast at 4 p.m. (EDT) on May 23 on ESPN2.