peeds keep climbing as teams continue Indy 500 practice

Speeds continue to climb as IZOD IndyCar Series drivers and teams took advantage of a third consecutive day of sunny and warm conditions at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Rookie Josef Newgarden topped the speed charts for the second time in three days in his No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda. The 21-year-old from Hendersonville, Tenn., recorded a lap of 40.4519 seconds, 222.486 mph, fastest of the month so far as teams used the final hour of practice to work on race setups.

Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay (221.639) and Marco Andretti (221.519) were second and third, respectively, in their Chevrolets with the Honda of 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon (221.499) and Chevrolet of Sebastian Saavedra (220.785) rounding out the top-five.

In all, 29 drivers recorded 1,199 incident-free laps on the famed 2.5-mile oval. Indianapolis 500 practice continues on May 15 from noon - 6 p.m.


Pleepleus The Monkey, from the HDNet television show "Drinking Made Easy," was the honorary starter today. A segment for an episode of the show that will air in October is being filmed today at IMS.

Show co-hosts Zane Lamprey and Steve McKenna also are at the Speedway for the segment.


USAC champion Bryan Clauson has been one of the pleasant surprises of the first few days of practice, but the secret to his success may be an early-morning meeting the Indianapolis 500 rookie with three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser on Saturday, May 12 before the track opened to all drivers.

BRYAN CLAUSON: "Uncle Bobby took me out for a couple of Pace Car rides on Saturday. We had to meet at 8 a.m. and he wasn't too happy about it, but it was the only time we could fit it in. He took me around and showed me some lines and things around this place that he said he had never showed anyone before. I felt pretty honored and he's a guy that anything you can learn from him, you have to soak it in. I was going to call him after (Saturday), but I wanted to make sure we had the speed again before we called him. I hope he's proud that we're having a good month." (About advice Unser gave Clauson): "One was what he showed me and the second was not to tell anybody. But that's Uncle Bobby."


In 2001, Davey Hamilton was the first driver hired by Sam Schmidt for his IndyCar Series team. Now Hamilton is in his first year as co-owner with Schmidt of Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports, which fields the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda driven by Simon Pagenaud in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

SAM SCHMIDT: "It's been good. We're both providing good input for the team. Of course, I've known him (Davey) for 15 years, so it's all good. We raced against each other, and we're not missing a beat now."

DAVEY HAMILTON: "It's come a long way. Unfortunately, Sam got hurt and hired me to drive his car. Then I get hurt (at Texas Motor Speedway in 2001). We've both been through the hard times in this game, and now we're trying to enjoy some good times."

SIMON PAGENAUD: "Davey and Sam have been really helpful for this place. They've been drivers. They know what it takes. They know when I need to do a better job or when we need to get the car a little bit better for me. It's a good combination."


Indianapolis micro-brewery, Flat 12 Bierwerks, has teamed up with Andretti Autosport's James Hinchcliffe, driver of the No. 27 Team car, to brew a special beer for the Month of May in honor of the Canadian. Hinchcliffe was a special guest at a Flat 12 pre-race party Saturday, May 12.

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: "Any time you can find a way to be associated with a brewery, that's a pretty fun way to do things. Being Canadian, beer's pretty much in my blood, so it was a natural fit. Those guys over at Flat 12 have a huge love of racing and a huge love of the Indy 500, so it made a lot of sense to get together and do something. They kindly offered to actually brew me my own beer for the Month of May. We did a Twitter contest and a Facebook contest to name it, so the 'Hinchtown Hammer Down Lager' is for sale at Flat 12 now. They're going to have it up at their suite here, and there's a promotion going on Brewstone (Beer Company) up on the north side. It's a cool thing. There's definitely some perks to this job."


Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian has formed a partnership with Gumball 3000 for the 96th Indianapolis 500.

Gumball 3000 is a combination of art, automobiles, music and film to create a unique aspirational lifestyle brand. Headed by Maximillion Cooper, the Gumball 3000 group operates eight companies with offices in Europe and the United States. With a pioneering spirit and an attraction that transcends social barriers, the Gumball 3000 mission is to build a global lifestyle brand of the future.

The Gumball 3000 logo will be prominently displayed on the No. 98 Team Barracuda-BHA Honda driven by Alex Tagliani. The Gumballers also will accompany the car out to the grid before the start of the race.

BRYAN HERTA: "Having the Gumballers in the Team Barracuda-BHA garages on Indy 500 race weekend will be phenomenal. The lifestyle brand of Gumball 3000 with the fast cars and star power of the Indianapolis 500 is a winning combination. It should be an exciting weekend for everyone involved."


A crew member usually sits in a race car and steers when it is towed back and forth from Gasoline Alley to the pits during Indianapolis 500 practice. But rookie Jean Alesi is staying in the No. 64 Lotus-FP Journe-Fan Force United Lotus at all times this month - both on the track and when it is towed back and forth from the garage to the pits.

TED BITTING (Team Manager, Lotus Fan Force United): "We have to have somebody steering the car when it is being towed. Drivers don't normally do that. In my experience, drivers don't want to do that. Unfortunately, none of our crew is able to fit in Jean's seat, so he ends up having to do it. Besides, he needs to break in his seat, so the more time he spends in it, the better. Jean is great to work with and does everything we ask him to do. He has a great attitude."

JEAN ALESI: "This is what the team has asked me to do, so this is what I am doing. At the same time, I am happy to spend as much time in my seat as possible, so that I can break it in. I am enjoying my time here very much. I am enjoying being able to talk to the fans, to sign autographs and pictures of my race cars from quite a few years ago. Everything here is very much different from what I have experienced, and I am liking it quite a lot. Of course, I have heard about the Indy 500 from many of my friends who have raced here over the years, so being here and finally doing it myself is very exciting. I am finally beginning to understand why they were always so excited. Of course, I want to put on a good show for the Indy fans, so I am attempting to stay 100 percent focused on my task, which is, of course, to make the car go as fast as possible."

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