Andretti Autosport made a splash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with all four of its cars in the top 10 of the initial practice session.
Danica Patrick, who'll be making her final IZOD IndyCar Series for the forseeable future in the Las Vegas Indy 300 -- the marquee event of the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships Presented by Honda -- Oct. 16, topped the speed chart with a quick (emphasize quick) lap of 224.719 mph on the 1.5-mile oval.
"It's friggin fast out there," said Patrick, driving the No. 7 Team GoDaddy car. "It's almost Indy speeds out there. Nothing would let me turn the page than winning here."
Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay (223.888; third), Mike Conway (223.558; fifth) and Marco Andretti (223.509; seventh) joined her in the top 10.
Dario Franchitti and Will Power, who will decide the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series championship between them, were ninth and 14th, respectively.
Also on Oct. 13, Gustavo Yacaman turned the fastest lap in the second of two Firestone Indy Lights practice sessions at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Yacaman recorded a lap of 28.6342 seconds, 194.118 mph, in the No. 2 TMR - Tuvacol/Xtreme Coil Drilling car. Andretti Autosport's Stefan Wilson was second at 28.7179 seconds, 193.553 mph in the No. 5 Andretti Autosport car.
DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:
The IZOD IndyCar Series will compete in the Las Vegas Indy 300, a 200-lap race on 1.5-mile oval at 3:45 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday. The race broadcast will air live on ABC. The Firestone Indy Lights will compete in the Las Vegas 100, a 67-lap race, at 12:45 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday.
Live timing and scoring reports from the Las Vegas Indy 300 are available on the Internet at www.indycar.com. The live timing and scoring module provides statistical information, including track segment speeds, lap information and much more. Feature stories, reports, driver quotes and notes, and photos will be posted on the site each day. More detailed information, including media advisories and VNF coordinates, is available at media.indycar.com. Real-time information is available via the IZOD IndyCar Series PR's twitter account at www.twitter.com/indycarpr.
Drivers will have 20 uses for 12 seconds each of the Honda overtake assist for the Las Vegas Indy 300.
The system employed by Honda Performance Development is an ECU software alteration. It is activated by the driver via a button on the steering wheel and provides an extra 200 RPM (about 10 horsepower) to the Honda Indy V-8 engine. Parameters are updated before each race weekend to meet the circuit layout. One overtake use will be enabled for the second practice session Oct. 14.
Firestone Racing is using the same tire specification that debuted at Kentucky, featuring the same body construction used at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway in June paired with new tread compounds for all four tires to provide similar grip and performance characteristics as the Texas tires.
Each entry receives 10 sets for the race weekend.
AL SPEYER (Executive Director, Firestone Racing): "Here we go again with the IZOD IndyCar Series championship going down to the final race, and we could not be more excited about it. Dario Franchitti and Will Power have battled all season long and we expect the title duel could well be decided again on the final lap. Whoever wins will be a worthy champion and fine representative of the series. There will be other noteworthy competitions in the race as well - for rookie of the year, those aspiring to finish in the coveted top 10 in points and, of course, Dan Wheldon's challenge to drive from last to first that could earn a $5 million prize. As the drivers take on these challenges, they can take comfort in the fact they will do so on a proven race tire. The identical Firestone tire specification was used two weeks ago at Kentucky, where nearly the whole first half of the race ran under wide-open green-flag conditions, and the entire field was pushing it to the limit in the thrilling closing laps. Plus, a number of teams have run successful tests on this same spec in recent weeks at Las Vegas, so we feel confident that the Firehawk tires will yet again do their part to assist in the breathtaking racing that the IndyCar Series so often displays on the 1.5-mile ovals. Whatever the outcome, it's been a sensational season and Firestone Racing has been proud to be part of it."
A transcript of Danica Patrick's media availability is available on INDYCAR Media Web site at www.indycar.com/media
Firestone Indy Lights entry update: The driver of the #16 car is now Oliver Webb.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing drivers Ana Beatriz and Davey Hamilton tested at the 1.5-mile oval in August. Both ran the new tire spec. ... Grime Boss, a brand of heavy-duty hand-cleaning wipes manufactured by Nice-Pak, will be the primary sponsor of the No. 27 Andretti Autosport car driven by Mike Conway. ... MGM Grand Hotel & Casino will be the primary sponsor on Takuma Sato's No. 5 MGM Grand-KV Racing Technology-Lotus car. ... Firestone Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden will be the driver analyst for the IMS Radio Network broadcast of the IZOD IndyCar Series race.
After the session, crew for #59 Viso reported it will change engines after an oil leak in the first group due to a faulty drain plug.
Michael Shank announced that his team will expand operations by launching an IZOD IndyCar Series effort starting with in 2012. The team, MSR Indy, has purchased a 2012 Dallara IndyCar and is set to take delivery on Dec. 15. MSR Indy will be based at Michael Shank Racing's 20,000 square-foot shop located outside of Columbus, Ohio. The team will also continue to stage a full season Daytona Prototype campaign in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.
Michael Shank has formed MSR Indy by establishing a pair of partnerships that grew out of long-term business relationships. Columbus-area businessman Brian Bailey has joined the MSR Indy effort as a principal partner. MSR Indy will also see NASCAR Sprint Cup and former Indy car driver AJ Allmendinger join the venture as a principal partner through his Walldinger Racing management company. The team will be powered by Lotus engines.
MICHAEL SHANK (Owner, Michael Shank Racing): "For me, the Indianapolis 500 has always been the dream. With the new 2012 Dallara IndyCar, there is a window for a team like mine to join the series and pursue that dream. We've got the opportunity to come in and make an impact while still running an efficient program, doing the most we can with the available resources. We are still working on finalizing several elements of our program, but we wanted to take this opportunity to announce our commitment to INDYCAR and we look forward to finalizing plans and to being ready to go in 2012."
BRIAN BAILEY (Co-principal, MSR Indy): "This is an incredible opportunity, to be a part of Michael Shank's move into IndyCar and the next era in the sport. He has put so much into building this team to be ready to take on this kind of campaign. I believe in Michael, his people, and his team, so this is an exciting program to be a part of."
A.J. ALLMENDINGER (Co-principal, MSR Indy): "Obviously I have a close connection to open-wheel racing, but add that to the chance to work with Mike and his organization and it's something that really appealed to me. Mike is one of the hardest working guys in motorsports and he's a racer. I've always liked that about him, so I know he'll fight hard for MSR Indy's performance. We also hope to open some business relationships for our NASCAR Cup partners with this effort too."
Nothing really "odd" about this pick: A three-time IndyCar champion has been selected as the favorites to win this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Jay Rood, Vice President of Race & Sports MGM Resorts International, is not betting against Dario Franchitti, the IZOD IndyCar point leader is going for his fourth IZOD IndyCar title in five years in Sunday's Las Vegas Indy 300. Will Power, Franchitti's only title rival is the second choice.
The odds: (presented as news material only)
Dario Franchitti - 9-5
Will Power - 3-1
Scott Dixon - 8-1
Tony Kanaan - 11-1
Ryan Briscoe - 15-1
Helio Castroneves - 20-1
Ryan Hunter-Reay - 25-1
Marco Andretti - 50-1
Oriol Servia - 50-1
Alex Tagliani - 50-1
Graham Rahal - 60-1
Danica Patrick - 60-1
JR Hildebrand - 75-1
Vitor Meira - 100-1
Paul Tracy - 100-1
Field (all others) -- 50/1
IZOD INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "We have some work to do on the Target car. I wasn't happy where we were to start today. Lots of work to do to get the car where we need it to be for the race on Sunday."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "I think it was a pretty marginal start to the weekend for us really. The race is going to be interesting that's for sure. We made a lot of changes to both cars but nothing really changed where we were at on the time sheets. We'll go back and discuss it and see what we can come up with for qualifying."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Dr Pepper TEN): "The Dr Pepper TEN car had a strong practice today - this is the car to win the race. Now we just need to capitalize on what we have. It's be great to win in my 100th career start."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team Go Daddy): "It's friggin' fast here. Almost a 225 lap is like Indy speeds. The track is nice and smooth and we'll be three-wide out there, which will be exciting. The race is going to be crazy and the crashes will be spectacular. Nothing would let me turn the page better than winning here."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): "Yeah, you could tell with Danica and I talking, it's so fast. It's just so fast and so close to each other, it's exciting. The fans are going to get a good show. It's kind of crazy. It's great that the track is smooth, you can be consistent and try to keep your car in line and follow the car in front when you're three wide. Like Kentucky with the bumps, for example, it is more difficult because you never know where the car is going to land. Here it is great because it is smooth. Because it's smooth it allows everybody to be really close, we're talking three wide, I'm sure at some moments we will be four wide. It's not just one row, it's going to be like five rows of three wide and five more rows of three wide. There's really no room for error. It's exciting, I'm sure on TV and that the fans here will have a great show." (You've got fourth in the points locked up, how does that align with the goals you set for yourself at the start of the season?): "It's an amazing position to be in. I've never been at a race where I have nothing to lose in terms of points. I only have a good show to put out there and go for the win. The whole team feels very happy to finish this way. We can try to be a little more risky on strategy and the setup of the car a little more edgy and the driving too. We are very excited about the opportunity."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): "It was a pretty good first outing. We ran pretty well as a team. I think we have great race cars. We were good at Kentucky in the race too. We were able to run in similar conditions as Sunday's race. It's going to be hot and it's going to intense for 200 laps."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Team Grime Boss): "We were okay today. It is going to be a crazy race on Sunday. This place is fast. I wasn't too fast by myself, but we were better in the draft. We'll see how things go in Friday's practice and qualifying."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central): "The No. 38 Service Central car feels really good. I think we're pretty quick on our own and in a tow we just ran out of gear, so we didn't get the big lap time we were looking for. At the end of the day it's just practice, and we'll keeping working on getting a good race car. All four of our cars quick, but so are a lot of the other teams so we'll really need to be on our game for the race on Sunday."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir & NovoLog Flex Pen): "It was a really good start to the weekend for Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. We got comfortable running in a pack, running high and low and working our way through traffic. At the end of our session we were really quick, but lap times are kind of irrelevant when cars are running in a pack like they were. We'll continue to work at it, but I think we have a really good race car. The No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen car should be running in the top 10 pretty solidly all day on Sunday."
TONY KANAAN (No. 82 GEICO - KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "It was a good start. The GEICO - KVRT - Lotus car was pretty good out of the box and we ran very consistent laps under traffic. We still have a couple of things to try tomorrow before qualifying, but I'm happy with how the 82 was handling today. Tonight we have a parade down on the strip and it will be very cool for all the fans and the visitors that are here in Vegas to check our cars."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "It was a productive first day. We really needed to find some speed after Kentucky, so we made a few changes. The car worked well in traffic and we now need to work on preparing for qualifying tomorrow. The Las Vegas facility is very clean and impressive. The track is very high banked and smooth so I hope it's going to be a good weekend for us."
E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus: "What a nice track to finish the championship on. I really enjoyed running on it. It is quite high banked and you can pretty much run flat through the first corner out of the pits. We made make a few changes to the car and then it was feeling pretty good, however shortly after we got a fluid leak and finished early. I am looking forward to getting back on track tomorrow and having a good qualifying."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): "It's going to be one hell of a race. That's probably the most exciting practice session I have ever been in. The track is awesome. Actually, maybe it's not awesome because it leaves us so much grip and so much freedom to put the cars where we want that we are giving each other much less margins out there. With Kentucky being so bumpy the cars move around a lot more so you didn't see that as much. It's going to be a show. I think qualifying is going to be a little more important because the further back you get, the more manic it's going to get. Hopefully we can start in the top-10 and work our way forward in the race."
PIPPA MANN (No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing): "It was a good feeling getting out on track today - we were able to run some competitive laps and despite a slightly interrupted practice session, we gathered some worthwhile data. I'm pretty confident we'll have a good race car on Sunday, as I was able to run inside and outside of people out there on the track and set some fairly decent times in clean air, so I'm really looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow."
JAY HOWARD (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing): "I think today was a good start and we're just going to keep pushing and looking for more speed. Having a teammate here will allow us to try a greater number of changes as we try to find time, and allows us to gather valuable data that will help us move forward. I am really looking forward to the rest of the race weekend and representing Service Central as well as R66T and Cyrca on the #15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan car."
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 22 Dad's Root Beer/DRR): "We've got a great car balance wise and we were really pleased in that practice session, we learned a lot. I'm feeling much better about our chances after that practice. It was lively with E.J .Viso blowing up right in front of me. You don't see that very often in the series, so that was a challenge, but everything was OK and went smoothly."
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 24 Team Ipiranga/DRR): "The Ipiranga car was okay. We just kept improving it throughout the practice session. It was a little disappointing to start out with, but we worked on making it better. It's very tight right now. The goal is to continue to work on it and I think we will be good."
DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 11 HP Everybody On/DRR): "We had improvements from when we first pulled out to where we ended. On the last run, I didn't have the opportunity to get traffic, so I was by myself when I did my fastest lap time, which was a decent time. We definitely have something to go by and we have some hope."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske): "It was a good start today for the Guidepoint Systems car. It's my first time here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and we took our time to get to know the track and I think we have a pretty good idea where we need to go for the weekend."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Honda): "We had a good practice today. The IZOD Team Penske car had good speed and we feel good about our chances this weekend. It's definitely going to be an interesting race."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "We still have some speed to find in the Verizon car but it was a decent start for us today. It's good to get some laps in here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and we'll be working hard to get the most out of the car in practice and qualifying tomorrow."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): "We had a pretty good day. I didn't put in any major lap times and we spent a lot of time running in traffic and feel really good about where we're at. Just in a general sense, the racing this weekend is going to be crazy. The number of cars outthere that could run side-by-side, from being three-wide from one pack to another was pretty intense and was almost easy as long as you could stay aware of where cars are around you. The race is going to be really exciting for the fans and in the end that's what we're all here for."
BUDDY RICE (No. 44 Fuzzy's Vodka Panther Racing): "It was a good day for us in the Fuzzy's Vodka car. The car feels good, and we'll make a couple more adjustments for tomorrow heading into the practice and the qualifications. We'll see if we can't qualify closer to the front than we did in Kentucky, that way we can be more racy at that start and I think that will make a big difference where we end up."
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-PRACTICE QUOTES
GUSTAVO YACAMAN (No. 2 TMR-Tuvacol Xtreme Coil Drilling): "It (the lap) was certainly a big jump. My car is pretty good and we've been working on race set up. I'm pretty happy, and the track is really really fast. It's got a lot of grip and the race should be a lot of fun."
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "It depends on the draft you get, how good of a draft you get. It's very hot out there. We tried a few things, and I think it's good. By myself, I was very quick. It's looking good, I will try to get a good setup for tomorrow. Tomorrow morning it will be similar to the race, we'll see what the weather is like and to try to get set up, but so far it's looking good."
FRIDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
9:45 - 10:30 a.m. Firestone Indy Lights practice #312:30 p.m. -2 p.m. IZOD IndyCar Series practice #2 (Two groups/1 Hour each)2:15 p.m. - 3 p.m. Firestone Indy Lights Sunoco Pole Qualifying (Cumulative time of two laps)3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. IZOD IndyCar Series PEAK Performance Pole Qualifying (Cumulative time of two laps)