Mutoh tops Rookie Practice


Eleven IndyCar Series drivers took advantage of a one-hour practice session at The Milwaukee Mile in preparation for Sunday’s ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225.

            Series officials have allocated extra practice time for rookies and drivers transitioning from the Champ Car World Series at Milwaukee, Richmond and Nashville.

            Andretti Green Racing’s Hideki Mutoh was fastest on the 1-mile oval, lapping the circuit in 22.7518 seconds, 160.603 mph. KV Racing Technology’s Will Power was second (160.168 mph) and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal was third (158.506 mph).

            Practice for all drivers and PEAK Motor Oil Pole Qualifying are scheduled for Saturday. The 225-mile race is set for 4 p.m. (EDT) Sunday. ***             John Andretti, who finished 16th in the Indianapolis 500 driving the No. 24 Roth Racing entry, will return to drive for the team June 1 at The Milwaukee Mile and June 7 at Texas Motor Speedway.

            “I really enjoyed Indianapolis and had a great experience with Roth Racing,” Andretti said. “The opportunity arose to do some more races, and I really kind of jumped at the chance, as the opportunity to get more experience in the series and in the cars is a good thing for the future. My goal is obviously to get as competitive as possible at Indianapolis, and I’d still like an opportunity to win that race. Marco (Andretti) seems to be getting awfully close, and I’d like to be up there and watch him either do it, or race him for it, so I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, and I know with Larry Curry there everything’s just going to continue on the upswing. I am excited about it, looking forward to it, and I can’t wait to get to Milwaukee.”             Andretti has two top-10 finishes at Milwaukee, including a second in 1991 while competing against uncle Mario and cousin Michael.

            “We had a sort of historic event happen at Milwaukee in 1991. I still say I won the race, but they gave it to my cousin Michael (Andretti), and I always tell that to Michael too, but of course he disagrees. It was the three Andrettis on the podium, which has never happened in history for a family to do that, and I don’t know that it ever will again because you have to have three in the race to make it happen, so I think it was an exciting day for us. I’ve also had other good races at Milwaukee. Unfortunately one of them we broke an engine. In my rookie year up there, we had a really good race going then, too. I like Milwaukee, and hopefully when we unload we have a good setup, because time is going to be short. It’s not like Indy where we can go back and think about it and build a strategy for the next day. Basically it’s here now and you better get it d one early. It’s going to be a little bit difficult, but I won’t be the only guy up there with minimal experience with these cars on that racetrack, so hopefully we can get on par quickly and have a great race with Roth Racing.”

***             Luczo Dragon Racing will compete in the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway June 7 and the PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway Sept. 7, the team announced today.             The team made its first start of 2008 with driver Tomas Scheckter at Kansas Speedway in April, qualifying fourth. The team qualified 11th for the Indianapolis 500 and was running as high as third in the race before a broken driveshaft ended its day after 156 laps.             The team also will compete at Infineon Raceway Aug. 24 and is considering adding additional races.             "Given the strong performance of the car at the Indy 500, and the exceptional driving displayed by Tomas, we feel that it makes sense to expand our effort this season in order to position LDR as competitively as possible for our full run next year,” Luczo Dragon co-owner Steve Luczo said. “Tomas has won at Texas before and we feel that this is a great opportunity to build on his and the team’s success."             Scheckter won the race at Texas in 2005 and has led 371 laps on the 1.5-mile oval in eight starts.             “I am really looking forward to Texas. I am so happy the team has decided to go,” Scheckter said. “I have shot the guns in victory lane there before, and I look forward to doing so again in a Luczo Dragon car. We really have a strong team. We have been getting better and better every weekend. We had impeccable stops at Indy and I look forward to the same kind of performance in Texas.”

***             Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt says he “loves adrenaline rushes and speed.” A ride around The Milwaukee Mile in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater satisfied both.             The right-hander, whose team is in Milwaukee to face the Brewers in a weekend series, said driver Davey Hamilton told him to hang on and enjoy.             “It’s amazing in the turns how much it forces you down, and once you get going through the straightaway it about sucks your helmet off,” said Oswalt, who took the loss in St. Louis on May 29. “You have to do some really good driving through those turns.”             Oswalt, who was joined in the waiting line by teammate Geoff Geary and Indiana University basketball coach Tom Crean, said he drove dragsters back in the day. “But I had to get out of it I signed a (baseball) contract.”

***             The Firestone tire specification for the race at The Mile is new for the left and right sides. The Firehawks were developed based on results gathered at Firestone’s private test at Richmond International Raceway in March.             These Firehawks are designed to provide slightly more grip on both sides.             “Going into this season, Firestone Racing engineers knew that further developing our ‘short oval’ tire specification was a primary goal,” said Al Speyer, executive director of Firestone Racing. “To that end, we conducted a very successful test at Richmond International Raceway back in March and were able to make strides on our formula based on the data we collected there.”

***             The Milwaukee Mile is considered Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing’s “home track” because of the one-hour distance from its Lincolnshire, Ill., headquarters. Before joining the IndyCar Series for 2008, the team competed at The Mile from its first season (as Newman/Haas Racing) in 1983 until 2006.             Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy, Michael Andretti and Sebastien Bourdais combined for seven victories in 24 races. Team co-owner Carl Haas was the promoter of racing events at the historic venue from 1992 to 2003. *** INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream, fastest): “I think my car is really good. I could have gone faster, but my team, Kim (Green) and my engineer (Ray Gosselin) told me to be patient because this is a fast track. I think we’re in good shape (for tomorrow).” (How does this track compare to other tracks?): “It’s more like a road course because of the low banking. I’m more used to this kind of track. I feel really good here.” (How much faster do you think you can go?) “I think we can pick up one second in qualifying.” (About help from teammates): “Danica (Patrick) was in my pit during practice. She told me which line to take and I did it, so it was good advice. I’m very thankful that Danica helped me.” WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia, second): “It was a pretty eventful session. We found at the beginning we were out of the window, but by the end we found good balance in the Aussie Vineyards–Team Australia car. When we first went out, we were behind, and now the car is much better. This rookie practice really helped us. It gave KV Racing Technology an opportunity to find out a little more about the car and what it is doing. I am really happy and loving this circuit, it’s a lot of fun. I haven’t enjoyed myself more this year.” GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps, third): “I think we learned a lot about the car in a short period of time. We made a big change at the end, went back out and I was really happy with the car. With 11 cars, it was already busy on track; I can’t believe 27 out there.” ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology, fourth): “This hour of practice was really good because it gave KV Racing Technology an opportunity to check out the car and make sure all the systems were working correctly. It was like a carburetion day at Indy. Now we have a better baseline to start from tomorrow.” JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald’s Racing Team, fifth): “It was very useful, and it allowed us to try to at least get the car closer. We can study the information tonight and hit the ground running tomorrow.”

***             The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 on June 1 at the Milwaukee Mile. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 4 p.m. (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 The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Milwaukee 100 at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) on June 1 at The Milwaukee Mile. The Firestone Freedom 100 will be telecast at 1 p.m. EDT May 31.

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