Rain forces postponement of Firestone Freedom 100 to Saturday
Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon paced the final practice session before the 92nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.
The practice, which had been scheduled for one hour, was limited to 12 minutes due to rain.
Wheldon, who will start second in Sunday’s 500-Mile Race, turned a fast lap of 223.934 mph, while Dixon, the pole sitter for the event, recorded a lap at 223.028 mph. The duo completed just six laps each before a light rain began falling.
Buddy Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner, completed 11 laps, most of any driver. The 40-lap Firestone Freedom 100 race was postponed due to the rain. The green flag will drop at 12:15 p.m. Saturday.
The McDonald’s Pit Stop Challenge was canceled.
*** Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon, the pole sitter for the 92nd Running of the Indianapolis 500, was presented a $5,000 check for the Cholula Hot Lap of the Day. The award was presented to the driver who turned the fastest lap on Fast Friday – May 9. Dixon topped the speed charts that day with a lap at 226.968 mph.
*** Levi Jones won the 38th Tony Hulman Classic at the Terre Haute Action Track last night. Jones and Jerry Coons Jr. traded the lead three times during the 30-lap race. Jones led the final 13 laps to take the victory.
*** Entry update: The car name for the No. 8 KV Racing Technology entry driven by Will Power has been changed to Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia.
*** Conquest Racing announced today that it has formed a partnership with Bidaroo.com, a unique Indiana-based online charity auction, to become title sponsor of the #34 car driven by Jaime Camara for the 92nd Indianapolis 500.
Bidaroo.com, whose logo will appear on the sidepods of Camara’s orange-and-white Dallara, is an auction-type Web site that sells new products such as iPhones, plasma TVs, Nintendo Wii game systems and many more products for at least 90 percent below retail. Bidaroo donates a portion of net proceeds to selected charities.
ROB GOUGH (Founder, Bidaroo.com): “We are extremely excited to be partnering with Conquest Racing and Jaime Camara for the Indianapolis 500. The Indianapolis 500 is such a major event, and it presents us with a great opportunity to expose Bidaroo.com not only locally but to the world.”
ERIC BACHELART (Owner, Conquest Racing): “We are pleased to have formed this partnership with bidaroo.com. The concept behind the online charity auction is so unique and such a great idea, and if at the end of the day we can help them raise even more money for their cause, then it makes our work that much more meaningful.”
*** The crew from Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing car #02 was named the winner of the 2008 True Grit Award presented by C&R Racing, Inc. The crew includes Tim Coffeen, chief mechanic, Tim Hornburg, tire specialist, John Tzouanakis, team manager and Davey Evans, who passed away earlier this month.
*** Andy O’Gara, chief mechanic for the #67 Sarah Fisher Racing entry, was named the winner of the 22nd Clint Brawner Mechanical Excellence Award. Presented annually since 1987 by the Clint Brawner Foundation and underwritten by Firestone Racing, the award pays tribute to the memory of the late Clint Brawner, chief mechanic on six national champion cars in AAA- and USAC-sanctioned series. It rewards a chief mechanic at Indy each May who "exemplifies the mechanical and scientific creativity, ingenuity, perseverance, dedication, enthusiasm and expertise" of Brawner.
*** Scott Dixon was presented the $5,000 Mi-Jack Top Performance Award for recording the fastest single qualifying lap. Dixon’s fastest qualifying lap was 226.598 mph.
*** Officials from the IndyCar Series and Honda Performance Development conducted a press conference this morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to announce a five-year extension in the relationship of Honda to supply engines to the IndyCar Series and to announce an automotive manufacturers round table to discuss new specifications and encourage expanded manufacturer participation.
TONY GEORGE (Founder & CEO, Indy Racing League): “We were able to start 2008 off on a good, solid footing with the announcement that for the first time in a long time open-wheel racing in the United States would be unified in one series. It’s been an interesting and challenging year so far, but I will say that it’s gone very well from my perspective. I continue to hear around the paddock and around the garage and everywhere we go that everyone’s excited about the tremendous opportunities we have going forward. We’ve been able to work through all the issues of the month and the year so far because of the great partnerships that we have. Certainly, one of those partnerships has been Honda. Since 2002, when we first started talking about them competing in the IndyCar Series, we’ve come to know and appreciate them and their supp ort of open-wheel racing in North America, and we very much enjoy that support ourselves to this day.
One of the announcements, of course, is focused around Honda and their intentions of continuing in the IndyCar Series for the foreseeable future. In addition, we also want to talk about the work that really started last year around this time when we announced the Art Center project out in Pasadena (Calif.) through, again, Honda’s support and their work with the Art Center. We were able to kind of really begin thinking about what our future IndyCars that will compete in the next 100 years at Indianapolis will start looking like and working toward the timing of introducing that; and, again, working with Honda and the chassis manufactures to help identify that. Now, to take that to the next level, to begin looking at that critically and how practically we might apply what we saw, we are going to start getting some feedback from the industry.
One of the things we hope to d o is get some feedback from a number of other OEMs and car manufactu rers that might be interested in coming back into the sport of IndyCar racing, which means we’re going to be taking a close look at competition and hopefully encouraging more involvement from manufacturers in the future. There’ll be an industry round table that is created and is sort of kicked off in the next few weeks. I hope, too, that we look at some of the other industry constituents that will weigh in and factor into our thinking of what our platform’s going to be like.”
(On cost containment going forward): “I think that we all have a good sense for that. We (the IndyCar Series) were really on the leading edge of that. This business is a balance. It’s technology, it’s sport, it’s entertainment. You have to keep a good balance. Clearly, if we can have competition and manage it and make sure that we don’t let the costs get out of control or the technology get in the hands of too few so that everyone can be competitive, we’ll be doing our job.”
ERIK BERKMAN (President, Honda Performance Development): (On extending Honda’s IndyCar relationship thru 2013): “First, let me say that Honda is very pleased to be in IndyCar racing. I think you know our history. Fifteen years ago, Honda Performance Development was created to launch IndyCar racing for us. This was our first professional racing foray. Now with the unification and the upcoming centennial, we have a great opportunity to launch into this second century of open-wheel racing with a bang. We’ve been challenged at times going from the multi-manufacturer competition era to now a single-engine supply era. We like the notion of competition that would include other manufacturers.
So we are delighted with the league’s intention to host this round table. We think working with other manufacturers and discussing the concepts that we can br ing back some competition that will help to spice up the close racing that we already have. We could not be happier to be announcing today our intention for five more years. That adds to the stability and what’s needed in going forward, so there is no doubt where Honda’s position is.
Secondly, I’d like to point out that everybody needs to make plans, and Honda is no different. Our company has grown over these past 15 years. We’re at a point to where we need the stability, as well, to understand what we will be doing. We’ve branched out to other forms of racing in recent years. But now with this commitment for the next five years in IndyCar racing, that allows us to have our own internal measure of stability and security for our workforces. I can’t just say enough why Honda is racing - how it helps us develop our people and how through this continuing culture of the racing spirit within Honda which is in fact our DNA. It makes us a better c ompany, and that is reflected in our products, which satisfy! our cus tomers.”
(Do you get more benefit as a manufacturer from being the exclusive supplier or from the ability to beat the competition and advertise that?): “I think we get benefit if we go either way. There are different kinds of benefits out there. However, I can tell you that when we started that exclusive supply, we didn’t know everything that we know now. We’ve learned some things along that way. We’ve become better at our quality control in the reliability. We’ve evolved the design to a point where we have a good product, and it’s better than where we started. Not that we didn’t think that it would happen. There were some surprises along the way.
They were good surprises from what we could learn. The benefit of competition for us is something that is somewhat of an internal reward. It’s a motivation for our company. Our company’s founder raced. He formed the company with the intention of racing. Not all companies th at have existed 50-plus years like us can say that anymore. We have a strong racing spirit or racing culture in our company, part of our DNA. We get a lot of benefit from people who learn something about racing through direct application hands on. We have grassroots motorsports clubs and so on at our factories.
Also have drag racing groups and go-karting groups. We believe that we can help that through the professional racing series here, instill in our company, and people of all walks of life in our company. They appreciate, follow and applaud what we are doing here in racing. So, the spirit is high and we want to keep that going. That is very important for us. Having competition is something that we want. We really do want that. In the event that we continue as a sole supplier, we will still benefit from that. But we’ll turn our intentions and move it in a different direction of work at getting better on what we do.”
TERRY ANGSTADT (President, commercial division, Indy Racing League):
(What do you take from the round table itself, and what are goals and objectives might be coming out of that?): “When we were kind of brainstorming and developing this, we actually secured RWB, which has quite a bit of experience in the automotive industry, and one of the representatives is here today, Clayton Triggs. They will help us in terms of reaching out and really securing what we hope will be almost 100 percent attendance. It really is to purely update and introduce - to get people thinking about our business. We’ll talk about a little bit on where we think the (IndyCar) Series is going from a growth and development standpoint. But then really turn it over to the industry experts. Look for their opinion, their advice and their view of that next platform that we will be embraci ng. We could not be more excited about it. We think that it is very consistent with the technology and innovation platform of not only the IndyCar Series but the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Again, we think it is a great next step in the development of our racing business.”
BRIAN BARNHART (President, competition and operations division, Indy Racing League): “We’re very excited by the news of the extension of Honda’s participation in the IndyCar Series. We’ve had a great relationship with them beginning on track in 2003. As Erik mentioned, both in terms of competitive environment, as well as exclusive supply, it’s unparalleled performance in reliability out of an engine manufacturer. We couldn’t be more pleased to see them continue.
They won the manufacturers championship at Indianapolis in 2004 and 2005, and they stepped to the plate in 2006 as an exclusive supplier and have done a marvelous job providing outstanding equipment. It’s just an amazing relationship.
We really appreciate their willingness to help us grow the IndyCar Series both on and off the track. It enables us to tell our parti cipating teams and potential teams another piece of the puzzle long-term. They know engines are going to be provided at least by Honda, and Firestone tires will be on with them. It’s a couple of pieces of the puzzle done. Now, we’ll do the industry round table and hopefully get some collective agreement on what the next engine platform and racing platform will be.”
(On the purpose of industry round table related to future technology): “I think we would like to get the senior-level management people from the automotive industry to sit down and see if we can find a collective agreement on what that technology will be. From a league standpoint, we’re open-minded. We want it to be a fresh approach. When we get that many key players in the room at the same time; if we can find a consensus amongst several of them that would like to participate in the IndyCar Series in the future under that platform, we’ll be very open-minded.”
(On how close the league is to making a commitment on the new chassis): “I t will be driven a little bit by the industry round table. Form follows function with regard to that. Depending on what that platform is that’s chosen, will dictate various aspects of that chassis. We certainly have appreciated what the College of Creative Studies and the Art School design project have presented, and we like a lot of those concepts and may be able to incorporate some of those. But the next step is determining what the engine platform’s going to be. At this point, I think we’re more inclined from a league standpoint to stick with a single supply chassis. I really like the aspects of an exclusive supply on the tires and an exclusive supply on the chassis. We’d really like to focus on multiple manufacturers on the engine side. I think that’s the direction the series needs to go that makes the most sense. Exclusive supply on chassis and tires is the best way of controlling performance, speed, cost, safety; many of those aspects of it .”
*** Pacific Coast Motorsports and the Mexico City Tourism Board announced today that they have entered into an agreement with KV Racing Technology for the Indianapolis 500. The No. 5 Angie’s List Special driven by Oriol Servia will carry the Visit Mexico City logo at the 92nd Running of the Indianapolis 500. Pacific Coast Motorsports and the Mexico City Tourism Board announced their program just one month ago. However, the team’s driver, Mario Dominguez failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.
*** Westfield Steel, headquartered in Westfield, Ind., signed a $10,000 sponsorship with Sarah Fisher Racing for the Indianapolis 500.
*** Rain has forced postponement of tonight's 56th "Hoosier Hundred" USAC K & N Silver Crown Championship race at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Track and USAC officials are discussing possible dates for rescheduling.
*** FASTEST SPEEDS OF THE SESSION: Pos. Car Name Speed 1. 10 Dan Wheldon 223.934 mph 2. 9 Scott Dixon 223.028 mph 3. 4 Vitor Meira 222.326 mph 4. 11 Tony Kanaan 222.130 mph 5. 24 John Andretti 221.699 mph
*** INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “My theory around here is that if you don't know it by Carb Day, you're never going to have it. You can certainly fine-tune it in the race with all of the pit stops you have. The balance seemed nice today. Let's just hope it's like that Sunday. It's really just disappointing for the fans because, I don't know about the traffic you had coming in, but it seems like an awful lot. I almost missed the drivers meeting and, let me tell you, if I miss the Indianapolis 500 driver's meeting, Brian Barnhart would kick my butt royally, so I had to weave in and out a little bit.”
MARTY ROTH (No. 25 Roth Racing): “We tried something, and we're changing it, and we're waiting to get back out there.There's a little bit of practice and the Indy Lights race to watch today, so hopefully we'll get it all in.” (About Lids sponsorship): “Lids jumped on board just a couple of days ago, and they're a local hat company. They're doing a big jump in Canada right now. They've got 875 locations around North America right now. We're really excited to have them on board, and we hope to see them at the checkered flag.”
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 18 Z-Line Designs): “I’m confident in my car. We didn’t end up doing any laps today. We spent most of the time in the pits working on the car, but I’m still confident. We probably won’t make too many changes from today for Sunday.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “You want to go out there and get it done with. It’s been nice to be here on Carb Day - we’ve been thinking about it a long while. All of us want to get out there and race. We did maybe two laps with install or something and three laps at speed. It’s hard to tell. Nobody is really running, nobody is really in traffic. I think the other group that was behind us later on got a bit of a run in traffic. I know Dan (Wheldon) did. We learned a couple things with our fuel and things like that but nothing that’s really going to lead to too much of an asset. Can’t wait to get in the car and race.” (About going into the first turn with your teammate next to you): “Ah, it doesn’t bother me. If he wants to lead, he can lead. Whatever happens from the start, we’re just going to take it cautious and m ake sure we get through it and try and maybe sit back a little bit. We’ll see what our options are. I want to see what the car is like in traffic early on, as well. We’re just going to see what comes.”
ALEX LLOYD (No. 16 Rahal Letterman with Chip Ganassi): “The car has been good so far. Today wasn’t ideal, but it’s going to be a long race, so we’ll see. I’m going through this for the first time, and there’s a lot of new stuff going on. I’m just glad we have had a whole month to get a good idea of how everything works.”
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Hemelgarn Johnson): “It has a lot of grip in it as compared to qualifying. You just do the typical stuff. You want to be cautious, but you have to go hard enough to see how the car will go. We're just doing the rain thing now." (About whether he's had enough laps in the car): "We have by far the least amount of laps, so that puts the stress on the engineers. We'd love to have some more laps.”
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 24 Roth Racing): “We had a totally different setup on the car. We're trying to set it up for 85 degrees. I don't know if we have it right. We certainly tried to build as much grip in it mechanically. It still seems pretty good. The car has plenty of grip. I don't know. Nobody knows. I think there are a few guys that will run off and leave everybody. I just hope to be a part of that second group of guys that can hang on." (About making adjustments for race day): "We are going to make a change for the race. I wish we would have gotten it in today, but I'm used to the weather. In NASCAR, it used to rain all the time.”
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 12 Symantec Luczo Dragon Racing): “(Were you able to get out for the session?) “No, I didn’t even pass the Start/Finish line.” (So, you weren’t able to learn anything today) “No, but we’ve had a month, so if you’re trying to learn anything today, you’re a little bit behind the 8- ball anyway. Plus, the weather conditions are going to change so much, so today was really just confirming some things. We did our leak check, we know it’s OK so we’re happy with that. I would have liked more time, but I’m content with what we’ve done.” (About race day): “I’m feeling good. I’ve got a good car, good team, good sponsors. I just want to race. I’ve been here a month, I’m ready to go.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): “We weren't going for speed out there today, we just wanted to use the session to get a feel for everything we'll need to consider on Sunday. This was the type of practice that you want to use to make sure the engine is good, the setup is the way we want it and things are running smoothly. The final practice session also gives you a chance to make sure you know where the pits are and to get used to the layout for Race Day. This is the last time we'll be in the car until the Indianapolis 500, so we want to make sure we've taken all these things into account while we had the opportunity. We didn't get very many laps out there, but the Team Penske car seems to be running well, and I think we're ready for Sunday.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven): “We were able to get everything done today in the Team 7-Eleven car that we had to. We didn't get the track time we would have liked, but we got the car up to speed and shook it down. We're ready for the race.”
DARREN MANNING (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./AJ Foyt Racing): “We did about half of the stuff that we wanted to do, scuff in some tires and tested our fuel system. We didn’t get to run on full tanks, but the ABC car felt good, nice and fast. We hit a little bit of traffic, and I found out that the brakes worked well, so that was good. I’m pretty happy with the car.”
JEFF SIMMONS (No. 41 ABC Supply/Foyt Racing): “I never put a full lap together, but we ran enough to know that we have a good balance in the car. I feel we’re in good shape for the race.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald’s Racing Team): “We did an installation lap in the McDonald’s car, and that was it. We left the pits to try and do our first run, and as soon as I got to the end of pit lane it was yellow, so we didn’t do anything today. It’s a shame, but I’m sure everything will be fine. Some people got five laps in, but we did an install check, so that takes a couple of minutes, and by then it started raining. So literally we did nothing, but we know the car should run. I’m starting the race from the inside of the row, and its obviously going to be tricky since we’ve had so little time to go three-wide through the turns due to the weather. It’s going to be fun but difficult. I would be happy to finish on the lead lap and be in the top 10. It’s a shame we&rsqu o;re not doing the Pit Stop Contest, seeing as it was sponsored by McDonald’s. On the positive side, we didn’t have a spare car to do it in, so we were going to have to do the contest in our race car, unlike the others. It’s a bit easier on our race car, and we’ll have a better chance of our drive shaft and gear box and everything lasting the distance of a 500-mile race.”
ENRIQUE BERNOLDI (No. 36 Sangari Conquest Racing): “I only had a few laps out there and the car felt good, but unfortunately I couldn’t really get into traffic and practice under those conditions because the rain came, but it affects everybody. It was not ideal, but the car felt OK, and we have to take it from there. I’m quite positive for the race. Let’s hope that Sunday will be good, as well.” (What are your thoughts heading into the biggest race of the year?): “I am taking this race as a big race and not saying that it’s just another race because it is a special race. I have been to big races in my life, and I take this in a special way, as well. I will be more alert because I will be doing things that I have never done before like start in a row of three, and race in such a long race. I have not done such a distance It’s not just another race .”
JAIME CAMARA (No. 34 Sangari): “I’m looking forward to the race because even though I did only a few laps on Carb Day, I felt that the car was there, so I am more confident that we are going the right direction. Now we just have to focus in the race prep. It’s going to be just one more of those weekends that we had here already, a lot of pressure, a lot of stress, and you have to deal with it in the race on Sunday without a lot of practice time.” (Do you feel any differently heading into Sunday’s race because it is the Indy 500?): “You kind of feel the difference, but I try not to because it will only make the pressure bigger, and I don’t want to do that. But yeah, it’s a different race: It’s the Indy 500. Everything is different here, there’s nothing quite like it. I’m just setting my mind right now that it’s another race so that I can come here on Sunday without any stress or any pressure.”
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola): “We got a feel for the balance of the Motorola car in traffic, and we also got a feel for the gear. Would I have liked to have stayed out there and got a little more practice in? For sure. But I’m not the only one. We’re all in the same boat here, and we all got the same amount of time.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps): “Obviously it’s pretty disappointing that we didn’t get more practice, but I think overall we have a good race car. It felt pretty similar to the other day when we were pretty quick. We did an installation lap, and then went out to do our baseline run. We only did a couple of laps and got stuck behind Milka (Duno) the whole time, so that didn’t help much. That’s just the way it goes. Unfortunately, right when we got past her was right when it went yellow for the rain. I think now the focus is on going out and making it through the first turn on the start. Then we will work on running 150 laps before going for it at the end. I think it’s nice to start from the inside (of the row), but the biggest thing is to just make it through Turn 1. I’ve told a lot of people that if that means losing a couple of positions on the start, then so be it. It’s important to get through it. I’ve seen it many, many times, so I have a good understanding of what it’s going to be like.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske): “We had only run our installation lap today before it started raining, so we didn't get to run as much as we would have liked. However, the weather forecast for Race Day is drastically different than today, so I'm not sure how much we could have learned. I'm confident that Team Penske has the experience here at Indianapolis to give me a good car for Race Day, so I'm definitely looking forward to it.”
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream): “It is very disappointing that we couldn’t get much track time today. It would’ve been nice if we were able to check our race setup, but everybody is in the same situation, so I will just do my best in the race. It seems like weather will be nice on Race Day, so I am looking forward to Sunday and hope to do well.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Indiana Jones presented by Blockbuster): “It is only fitting that it rains today when we were getting on track since it's been dry all week. But the Indiana Jones/Blockbuster team is satisfied enough that we don't need much more on-track time. We got up to speed today, which is all we needed to do at Carb Day. We were able to shake things down, and there was no big balance change, so things are good.”
*** The Indiana Pacers logo will appear on the No. 4 National Guard Delphi car driven by Vitor Meira. The partnership between the Pacers and Panther Racing is a product of the friendship between Pacers President Jim Morris and Panther Racing co-owner John Barnes.
*** 4:11 p.m. – Persistent rain has forced the postponement of the Firestone Freedom 100. The race is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Saturday. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network and will be telecast by ESPN2 at 1 p.m. (ET) on May 31.
*** The inaugural Firestone Freedom 100 in 2003 was also delayed by rain. The race started on May 17 but was stopped on Lap 13 due to rain. It was restarted and completed the next day.
*** FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POSTPONEMENT QUOTES:
JAMES DAVISON: "I'm disappointed for all the people who came out today. I don't think there will be the same atmosphere tomorrow because everyone comes out for Carb Day. You don't know if they'll come back. It's going to be different, for sure. That's all part of oval racing. You can't run in the rain, but it's the same for everyone. I guess the best part about a rainout is I live in Indianapolis, so I don't have to re-book a flight or hotel." (About racing on a green track): "We ran at the Open Test on a very cold track with rain and wind, so I got the feel for driving the circuit in non-ideal conditions, so I feel confident about tomorrow."
LOGAN GOMEZ: "Yesterday was such a nice day, and today has been the complete opposite. It's disappointing to not race because everyone was here to see a show, and all they got to see to concert. We'll be back tomorrow, and hopefully there will be crowd to see us. There was great showing today, and it would have been great to put on a great show for them. The people waited in the rain and are still here. They deserved to see good show."
J.R. HILDEBRAND: "It’s such a tough deal. You can't do anything about the weather. We would have liked to run today rather than tomorrow, but there's not anything we can do about it. We just need to regroup and figure what we need to do for tomorrow.” (About racing on a green track): "Everybody is in the same boat. I don’t think it will be any more of an issue for us than it will be for anybody else. We've had fast cars no matter what the conditions have been. We had some problems in qualifying, but that's didn't reflect on the car setup."
SEAN GUTHRIE: "It's really disappointing. There were a lot of people here to see a great schedule of events, and the race was going to be televised live. All of it was super-exciting. It was a great chance for all of the drivers to get exposure they probably wouldn’t have gotten, but we understand the conditions and understand why we can't run today."
ARIE LUYENDYK JR.: “It’s a shame that we didn’t get the race in today. I was confident in the Targus/AFS/AGR car today and thought we would have challenged for the win. I feel bad for Targus since their debut with the team would have been televised live around the nation.”
RAPHAEL MATOS: “Of course I am disappointed that we didn’t get to race today. I really felt like the AFS/AGR car was going to be really fast today, and I was mentally prepared to be racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I am excited for the race tomorrow and think that the AFS/AGR car will be up front challenging for the win.”
BRENT SHERMAN: "I've done this many times before. The only difference between today and tomorrow is tomorrow is my birthday, and it would be nice to win on my birthday. Rainouts happen a lot in NASCAR. It’s a waiting game. You just sit around and wait with the team. My family is in town, and I'll hang out with them tonight, but tomorrow I'll get back to business."
DILLON BATTISTINI: "It’s a long time to stay focused and mentally prepared for a race. It’s a shame that we couldn't get it in today. I'll relax tonight and then get focused again in the morning. Tomorrow will be business as usual. The game plan is going to stay the same, but with all the rain, the track may be a bit less quicker than I expected it to be."
JOIE CHITWOOD (President and COO, Indianapolis Motor Speedway): “This is not where we wanted to be today, but Brian (Barnhart) and his team and the staff at the Speedway did everything we could to get that track to come around. In fact, we were starting to see improvement when the last rain came.”
(About the effects to the weekend schedule): “Today at three o’clock we canceled the (McDonald’s) Pit Stop Challenge, and that is not going to be rescheduled this weekend. At 3:30, we decided that there was no longer the ability to run the IndyCars, so that schedule was canceled with no replacement. The Indy Lights portion has been rescheduled for tomorrow. So tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. we have the public driver’s meeting, and following that we will have the (Firestone) Indy Lights race at 12:10 p.m.”
(About timing of decision to cancel Friday’s events): “I think one of the things Brian and I are committed to is trying to exhaust every opportunity to run the day that we schedule something. It would have been easy for us to look at the radar and come in here around noon today and say, ‘Sorry, we’re not going to run.’ That’s not why we want to do it. There’s a lot of people out here who want to see cars on track, and that’s why we’re in here today at 4:30 saying we gave it our best shot.”
(About the latest the IMS would allow cars on the track today): “Brian and I said to ourselves that if we could get the (Firestone Indy Lights) race started by 6:30, we would be comfortable letting it run until 7:30. That is much later than we would normally do things. We tend to end running at six o’clock, but based on the number of fans we had out here today and the challenges of moving it to tomorrow, we were prepared to go that late today. ”
BRIAN BARNHART (President, competition and operations division, Indy Racing League): (About effect of rain-shortened Miller Lite Carb Day on the race for teams): “I don’t think it’s going to be too bad. We had 11 minutes of activity. Thirty-two of the 33 cars did at least an installation check. Everybody has fresh motors and is ready is ready for race weekend, so everybody got that installation check in to check for leaks and the install.
Then 27 of them, I believe, ran at some reasonable speed in excess of 202 mph. I believe two or three of them – Ryan Hunter-Reay, Vitor Meira and Buddy Rice, I believe – got 10 or 11 laps in. A lot of guys ran in excess of 215, 216. To be honest with you, I don’t think with the forecasted weather from Sunday to what we had today, I don’t think there was a lot of planning for a lot of running anyway. We’ve g ot 30,000 miles of practice in this month. Even with the challenges we’ve had weather-wise, we’re in excess of 30,000 practice miles. Most of that has been done in similar conditions to what we had today.
The forecasted weather for Sunday; the last I’ve seen is as high as the low 80s. So I don’t think guys were going to waste a lot of time because that’s going to be a vastly different setup. They’re going to rely more on their historical data and their knowledge. If the temperature here on Sunday at 1 o’clock is in the low 80s, this place is going to get hot and slick and they’re going to need a lot of downforce, a lot more downforce than they would’ve needed to run in today’s conditions.”
(On Firestone Indy Lights teams): “No problems with the Lights cars. I think it’s just disappointment of any race that gets rained out and postponed to the following day. We got 27 Lights teams that will be ready to go when we drop the green tomorrow at 12:15. With Jeff S! immons d oing the double; unfortunately Jeff’s going to be running the race tomorrow afternoon and won’t be able to participate in the parade, which is a disappointment. Other than that, I think the Lights teams will be ready to go.”
(On the Rick Mears approach): “The one thing that I stressed in this morning’s drivers meeting to them, with the forecast good and for 500 miles, they really need to focus and use the Rick Mears approach to the event. Considering we’ve got a third of the field who’s never run this race before, the Rick Mears approach is use the first half to prepare for the second half of the race. So, use those first 250 miles to position yourself to improve the car each of the pit stops.
Use the tools available to you to improve the car and get to a point where you’re ready to go for the last 250 miles. After the last pit stop, get yourself ready for the sprint to the finish. It’s the most challenging and difficult r acetrack in the world; and if you’ve never been here before, you really have to understand; Justin Wilson told me the other day, and I really appreciated his point of view: He said it is the only racetrack he’s ever been to that demands the entire package. It demands driver focus. It’s mental; it’s physical; it’s concentration. It demands downforce; it demands a balanced race car. It is the entire package every time you go out onto the racetrack.”
(On fresh engines for the race): “That’s everybody that’s doing the full-month program. I think we only had three short programs the second week that joined. The majority of the field is all fresh and ready to go.”
*** A total of 43 cars are currently at the Speedway and have passed technical inspection. Thirty-eight drivers have been on the track to date and have turned 13,451 laps this month. Will Power turned two laps today and has turned 561 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): 8 a.m. Public Gates Open 10:30 a.m. Public Driver’s Meeting 12:15 p.m. Firestone Freedom 100 (40 laps/100 miles)
*** 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 24 at Indianapolis. The race will be telecast at 1 p.m. EDT May 31.