Firestone Indy Lights simulate Freedom 100 race conditions at test

A one-day Firestone Indy Lights test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway designed to offer rookie drivers more experience on the famed 2.5-mile oval offered up a preview of what to expect on Freedom 100 Race Day on May 25.As the five-hour session wound down, the field staged a fairly race-realistic in the remaining 15 minutes that was a sight to see for any fans that came out to watch, and for the drivers themselves."It was an interesting last 10 minutes," said Gustavo Yacaman, who put down the fastest lap with a time of 47.3528 seconds, 190.063 mph. "It was very fast and pretty on the edge, but as every lap is at this place, it was also a lot of fun. I'm so lucky to be able to drive here again. It's a special place and coming out of any test on top, but especially at this place, is a positive."Seventeen drivers got in laps at the famed racetrack. The time differential from first to 17th place was 0.6765 of a second. Chase Austin was uninjured in the day's only incident on track.For some, the session was their first at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Unlike the IZOD IndyCar Series the drivers, who spent most of the month practicing and qualifying for the event, Firestone Indy Lights drivers will not hit the track again until practice on May 24."It was just amazing out there today," said Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Oliver Webb. Everyone tells you how it's going to be the first time you do it flat. But nothing really prepares you for it. I compare it to a concrete jungle really. You can't see anything else except the tunnel you're driving in. And with these massive grandstands, it really is a spectacle."When we went around the track this morning in a regular car, I was thinking, 'Geez, these corners are a lot longer than places like Vegas,' but then I found out you get through them pretty quickly in an Indy Lights car doing 190 mph. We did get a lot done today during the test, and I'm really looking forward to the race. It's going to be an exciting couple of weeks."***Alesi begins ROP processFormula 1 veteran Jean Alesi successfully completed two of the three phases of the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program on May 11."(Getting through two phases) was very important to me, obviously, because it's all new," Alesi said. "The car, the circuit are new and it's been a long time since I drove a single-seat (race car). I enjoyed it very much. It went very well. I had good feedback from the car and the track and I learned a lot. Doing all the phases alone, really helped me. The team around me is very experienced, so anywhere I turn, when I speak to one of the guys, they give me good advice."Alesi, who recorded 18 shakedown laps during Rookie testing on May 10, quickly got through the 10 lap run between 200-205 mph and worked his way up to speed in the 15-lap 205-210 Phase."It's fast," he said of Indianapolis' famed 2.5-mile oval. "But it's extremely important to concentrate all the time. You can't go on the track and be relaxed. I respect very much the Indianapolis racetrack, now."The Frenchman can complete the third and final phase of ROP during practice for the Indianapolis 500.Brazilian 'brothers' check out local fareWith no team hospitality at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 11, KV Racing Technology "Brazilian brothers" Tony Kanaan and Rubens Barrichello went in search of lunch.A local churrascaria? No. Something with more local flavor."You know, I am always the nice guy and smile and have fun and eat healthy. Where has that gotten me in Indy? Still haven't won yet, so maybe I need to change some things around," says Kanaan, a triathlete who will attempt to make his 11th start in the Indianapolis 500.Kanaan and Barrichello enjoyed a root beer float and pizza burger at one of Indianapolis' finer dining establishments -- the Mug-N-Bun -- a mile as the crow flies southwest of Indianapolis Motor Speedway."I still will watch my diet but darn it I need to do something to get to winner's circle," Kanaan adds.Barrichello, who a day earlier breezed through the three speed phases of the Rookie Orientation Program at the Speedway, enjoyed the spread."Of course I'd love to win here, just like 32 others," he says while sampling the onion rings straight from the deep fryer. "But I'll tell you what, I love this food. I love it. I think when my family gets here we really might come by and do a lunch or dinner."This isn't a place to eat everyday, but one more time between now and the '500' wouldn't be all that bad."For Barrichello, who has seen every circuit from Monaco to Montreal, the Mug-N-Bun was just one more unique dining experience. Reminded by a friend that Emerson Fittipaldi used to bring a personal chef to Indianapolis for the Month of May and eat seaweed and kelp, Barrichello comments: "That might have worked for Emerson and gotten two wins at Indy, but I'll gladly eat this and take one win this year."***Will Coyne "Have Another" at Indy?Dale Coyne Racing and driver James Jakes may be the beneficiary of I'll Have Another's win in the 138th Kentucky Derby. I'll Have Another became the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby with the No. 19  when he won the May 5 horse race, the same number as Jakes' Boy Scouts of America Honda will carry at the end of the month in the Indianapolis 500.A car using No. 19 has never won the Indy 500, but Jakes may see that as a karmic sign. Since 1911 the Derby and Indianapolis 500 winners have shared the same number eight times:Year     Derby winner          Indianapolis 500 winner    Number1915     Regret                                   Ralph De Palma                    21940     Gallahadion              Wilbur Shaw                                     11970     Dust Commander     Al Unser                                            21976     Bold Forbes              Johnny Rutherford                21978     Affirmed                   Al Unser                                           21997     Silver Charm            Arie Luyendyk                      52003     Funny Cide               Gil de Ferran                                     62004     Smarty Jones            Buddy Rice                                        15***Familiar foesFrench drivers Simon Pagenaud and Jean Alesi are both rookies at Indianapolis, but this is not the first time their paths have crossed.Pagenaud, who leads the IZOD IndyCar Series' Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, was one of several young French drivers mentored by Alesi nearly 10 years ago."He trained me when I was a kid," Pagenaud said. "I was part of a young French team of drivers and Jean was the captain. He took us to Dubai to train with his trainer and that's how I got to know him. He's a very nice guy and always has a good sense of humor. I'm glad to see him here."It's surprising to see him here and I hope he has a good month."***Dixon receives New Zealand Order of MeritNew Zealand Ambassador to the United States Mike Moore presented two-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon the New Zealand Order of Merit during an Investiture Ceremony on May 10 at the New Zealand Embassy in Washington, D.C.The New Zealand Order of Merit was instituted 1996 and is awarded to those "who in any field of endeavor have rendered meritorious service to the Crown and nation or who have become distinguished by their eminence, talents, contributions or other merits."Dixon, who on May 12 will begin preparations for the Indianapolis 500, was honored for services to motorsport. He won at Indianapolis in 2008.***Clean-shaven HinchcliffeJames Hinchcliffe is a man of his word, so off came his beard.The "Mayor of Hinchtown" made good on his wager with fellow IZOD IndyCar Series driver Wade Cunningham that he would shave his facial hair following his first podium finish in the series. He accomplished that at Long Beach in mid-April."I think at least once in every man's life he should get a straight-edge razor shave from a professional barber," Hinchcliffe said before the race April 29 in Brazil. "I'll show up on Opening Day a baby-faced Hinch."That he will, with likely ribbing from his Andretti Autosport teammates and GoDaddy.com crew.***Franchitti has bull's eye on new numberThe Target Chip Ganassi Racing car of two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti will carry No. 50 for the 96th Running of the Indianapolis 500 in honor of Target's 50th anniversary.Target and team owner Chip Ganassi have partnered for almost half of those 50 years."It's a tremendous source of pride for not only myself, but our entire race team," said Ganassi, who has four Indy 500 wins as a team owner and was the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year in 1983. "They have been, and continue to be true 'partners' in every sense of the word. Running the No. 50 car at Indianapolis is a fitting way to pay tribute to their longstanding success and achievements in the business world over the past half century."The distinctive Target bull's eye will serve as the zero in the car number. Both Franchitti and teammate Dixon will have the traditional bull's eye on the chest of their firesuits changed to the 50th anniversary logo for the month.***Of noteLongtime Indy 500 and IndyCar sponsor Jonathan Byrd's has joined FP Journe as a sponsor of the No. 64 car driven by Jean Alesi. ... HoneyBaked Ham of Bloomington, Ind., will be a sponsor of No. 39 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car of Bryan Clauson.FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS QUOTE SHEET:ANDERS KROHN (No. 28 Bryan Herta Autosport): "(Indianapolis) is as unbelievable now as it's ever been. It's a fantastic place and to have the Bryan Herta Autosport guys gather forces and make this happen today was great. Even if it was only for a few laps today, I could feel that the car is very quick. I'm pumpedand I am crossing my fingers that we'll be able to put something together for the Freedom 100. That would be a dream, right there."ALON DAY (No. 9 Belardi Auto Racing): "It was not so bad. I expected it to be much harder. I surprised myself because I got up to speed so quickly. Most of the day we spent fine-tuning the car to find a good setup, but we were able to get in the draft and run in traffic as well. That was the whole day. It was a short day for me. (About adapting to a oval): "In my opinion (an oval) is completely different than anything else. It's completely different. It was a nice experience. I'm sure the race is going to be really awesome."MIKE LARRISON (No. 19 Belardi Auto Racing): "It was an exciting day. We took it slow, at first and worked our way up to speed. I have to give it all to the Belardi Auto Racing guys. They kept me comfortable in the car and made changes that got me really comfortable at the end when we were in the draft. I'm looking forward to the end of the month."JV HORTO (No. 86 Juncos Racing): "I think it was a great day. (Indianapolis) is one of the tracks that I've always wanted to race at and for my first day here we did very good. I was up to speed with the guys who have experience here. It was very positive and I'm just thankful to be able to test and race at this track, which is one of the most famous tracks in the world. We learned a couple of things today, and I'm sure we're ready for the race weekend."GUSTAVO YACAMAN (No. 2 TMR-Tuvacol-Xtreme Coil Drilling): "It was a interesting last 10 minutes. It was very fast and pretty on the edge, but as every lap is at this place, it was also a lot of fun. I'm so lucky to be able to drive here again. It's a special place and coming out of any test on top, but especially at this place, is a positive. We can't get our hopes up because of this. We need to keep our heads down and work hard to keep Team Moore Racing 1-2 on the charts at the end of the Freedom 100."OLIVER WEBB (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "It was just amazing out there today. Everyone tells you how its going to be the first time you do it flat. But nothing really prepares you for it. I compare it to a concrete jungle really. You can't see anything else except the tunnel your driving in. And with these massive grandstands, it really is a spectacle. When we went around the track this morning in a regular car, I was thinking 'geez, these corners are a lot longer than places like Vegas' but then I found out you get through them pretty quickly in an Indy Lights car doing 190 mph. We did get a lot done today during the test, and I'm really looking forward to the race. It's going to be an exciting couple of weeks."TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM): "When I first got out on the track, I had a big smile on my face in my helmet. It was good to finally get out there after watching the other guys the last two years while I was in Star Mazda. There is a lot to learn about the driving line and the techniques here. I still have a lot of room for improvement. I did some running at the end in traffic, trying to get comfortable with that, which is good. I really enjoyed it. I still need to work on my pace when I'm running by myself, but I'm working hard with my engineer Chris (Finch)."DAVID OSTELLA (No. 22 TMR-Global Precast-Xtreme Coil Drilling): "You don't ever get over the fact you're driving at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. You know, you show up and you think 'I've run here and I know the track already,' but as soon as you get out there, you think 'Oh wow, it's Indianapolis.' It has such big corners and you carry so much speed here. The speed is something that really requires mental focus. But once you get out there for a few laps, you get used to it. And once I did, it just felt so amazing to be back."ARMAAN EBRAHIM (No. 24 Fan Force United - JK Tyre - AMG): "It's way different from any other oval. We've tested at Fontana and Iowa, but those two tracks are totally different from each other, every oval has a totally different reaction, but so far that has gone well. I'm enjoying the ovals, and it's going to a whole different story when you have 20 other of these guys out there with you." (About running with traffic): "Actually it was fine. I was behind a couple of cars and it felt fine, no problem at all. The only thing to do is watch for cars beside you and stay in your lane."CHASE AUSTIN (No. 87 Juncos Racing): (About contact): "We were practicing drafting in the second half of our testing session. I haven't done it for a while and my teammate was new to it. We both tried to stay off each other going into the corner.   I was passing and got too low beneath the white line. I'm not the first person to do it and I won't be the last.   I just got loose, spun out and hit the wall."VICTOR CARBONE (No. 3 MAV TV/Nevoni/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "It was pretty good to be back at Indianapolis. Besides being a special place, last year I didn't get to much running, so it was good to get to test. We had a really good day. I think we leave here with some good experience and I'm looking forward to the race weekend."ESTEBAN GUERRIERI (No. 11 Pistas Argentinas/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "Today went pretty well, actually. We worked on race settings in the beginning and in the end we were supposed to do some qualifying settings, but there was a yellow. We tried whatever we wanted to try. The speed was there. It was nice to get back to Indy. We were able to get up to speed and everything worked to perfection."CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Team Dialy-Ser): "It was my first time at Indianapolis and I'm really happy. It is a really nice circuit. In the morning, we focused on qualifying setup and I was really quick in my qualifying simulation. In the afternoon, we worked on running in traffic and ran as if we were racing, so I could see how the car felt. I think the times and positions really didn't matter on the oval. I'm quite happy with the work that we did today." (About running in a draft at the end of the session): "It was basically my first oval race. It was a fun and good experience. I was quite happy with the way the car ran and I think it's experience I can take into the race weekend."PETER DEMPSEY (No. 15 Younessi Racing): "Today was very interesting. We had a busy week. We were testing twice with Rodin (Younessi) Tuesday and Thursday and drove down here last night. We didn't have a lot of time to get the car ready for ovals like the other guys. The guys had to get (the car) together, get the uprights on it and roll it out. We weren't expecting to come here and be quickest, we were expecting to come here and gather data and get ourselves in the frame of mind for coming back to the race and be in a stronger position. The guys know what needs to be done, we just haven't had the time frame to do it."***The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Indianapolis 500 Mile on May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be televised by ABC at 11a.m. (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network on SiriusXM (XM 94 and Sirius 212). The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 25 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be televised live by NBC Sports Network at Noon (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network.