Another wild Happy Hour at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway led to the fastest speeds of the month as teams continued preparations for the 96th Indianapolis 500 Mile race.Marco Andretti, driving the No. 26 Team RC Cola Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport, led the way with a lap of 40.2367 seconds (223.676 mph) - the fastest lap of the four days of practice.Helio Castroneves, driving the No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet, was second with a lap of 222.025 mph and James Hinchcliffe (221.864) was third in the No. 27 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. Graham Rahal's No. 38 Service Central Honda was fourth fastest (221.855) with Ryan Hunter-Reay fifth in the No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet (221.814).The top 25 cars were separated by a second as teams continued working on race set-ups and simulations on the 2.5-mile oval. They'll turn their attention May 18 to set-ups for qualifications as they'll be afforded an extra 40-50 horsepower via turning up the boost of the turbochargers.DAY 4 NOTEBOOK:Tom Rossetter, from Indianapolis, was the honorary starter today. Rossetter has attended every Indianapolis 500 since 1946 except for one. He missed the 1964 race because he was building a home. Rossetter has had seats in Turn 4 since 1974.
***A $100,000 purse is up for grabs among 12 IZOD IndyCar Series teams in the Indianapolis 500 Pit Stop Competition during Miller Lite Carb Day on Saturday, May 25 at IMS.The Pit Stop Competition consists of four rounds of head-to-head competition in which teams change four tires and simulate fueling.Unlike past years, the winning team in each round will advance by having the quickest time from drop of the green flag until the car reaches the finish line. The winning team will receive $50,000, with the remainder of the purse being distributed based on finish.Seven entrants have qualified through their performance at 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series races following the Indianapolis 500:No. 2 Team Penske with Ryan BriscoeNo. 3 Team Penske with Helio CastronevesNo. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Scott DixonNo. 12 Team Penske with Will PowerNo. 26 Andretti Autosport with Marco AndrettiNo. 27 Andretti Autosport with James HinchcliffeNo. 50 Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Dario FranchittiThe Nos. 2, 3 and 50 will receive byes into the quarterfinals, along with either the Nos. 9 or 12 that are tied for position. A blind draw will determine the qualifier.The remainder of the 12-car field will be filled through time trials at 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 16 at IMS.***IZOD IndyCar Series team owner-driver Ed Carpenter welcomed Butler University mascot Butler Blue II (Blue) and mascot-in-training Butler Blue III (Trip) to his garage before practice began today at IMS.Blue has visited Carpenter's garage area the last three years in hopes of bringing good luck to the driver, who graduated from Butler in 2003. Carpenter gave both of his canine friends Ed Carpenter Racing dog shirts during their visit today.ED CARPENTER: "Everyone gets a kick out them coming all the time. It's just fun to be part of the Butler family and have a connection with Blue II and now Blue III. Hopefully I can get some speed out of their visit today."***The 40th edition of the Last Row Party is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 25 at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course pavilion. It's an annual dinner and roast "honoring" the 11th and final row of the Indianapolis 500 starting grid.For the 40th anniversary event, special guests such as IMSC President and CEO Jeff Belskus, IMS Historian Donald Davidson and IZOD IndyCar Series television personality/former Last Row Party emcee Bob Jenkins are scheduled to appear. Popular WFBQ "Q95" radio disc jockey and IMS Public Address reporter Laura Steele will serve as host and emcee.The 2012 back-row qualifiers will be awarded special jackets and checks for 31, 32 and 33 cents, respectively. Another highlight of the evening's festivities is the Press Club Foundation's silent auctions of one-of-a-kind racing and other sports memorabilia, vacation trips, restaurant gift cards and entertainment gift certificates.
Tickets are $50 per person, $450 for a regular table of 10 or $750 for a premium table of 10 close to "the action" and the drivers' tables, and include entertainment, dinner, lemonade and iced tea, and three beer tickets for party-goers age 21 and older. A cash bar is also available.
The Last Row Party benefits the Indianapolis Press Club Foundation, which supports journalism students attending colleges and universities in Indiana through thousands of dollars in annual scholarship awards and creative-writing cash prizes.Since 1973, the Last Row Party has paid tribute to the resilient drivers claiming the 31st, 32nd and 33rd spots in the Indianapolis 500 field. Many open-wheel racing legends have occupied a space in the back row of the Indianapolis 500 field, including former "500" winners Mario Andretti, Gordon Johncock, Johnny Rutherford, Tom Sneva and Al Unser.Tickets can be purchased online via www.indypressfoundation.org or by calling (317) 631-6400 or (317) 701-1130. American Express, Discover, Visa and MasterCard are accepted.***Former Firestone Indy Lights and Indianapolis 500 driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. impressed Emily Maynard in the season debut of the ABC show "The Bachelorette" on Monday night.Five bachelors were sent packing the first week. Luyendyk was not among them.Maynard, a North Carolina native who was chosen by Brad Womack on "The Bachelor" in 2011 and then had the relationship fizzle, was asked back by ABC as the one doing the choosing."The Bachelorette" Season 8 was filmed around the globe -- North Carolina, Bermuda, England, Croatia and the Czech Republic.***The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation (SSPF) will host its 13th annual Racing to Recovery Gala on Wednesday, May 16 at the Dallara factory in Speedway, where it will honor three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford with the Legendary Driver Award.
SSPF also will recognize the efforts of the Holmatro Safety Team with the Silent Hero Award for its skill and efficiency providing trackside support at every IZOD IndyCar Series event.Throughout the evening, guests can mingle with Indianapolis 500 greats from the past and present as well as with current IZOD IndyCar Series team owners and drivers, while raising money to support medical research and rehabilitation for those living with paralysis. The event will feature a silent and live auction, giving guests the opportunity to bid on unique racing-themed items, vacation packages, jewelry, artwork and much more.The SSPF was started in 2000 by INDYCAR driver Sam Schmidt shortly after a testing crash left him paralyzed from the chest down.SSPF is leading the charge to cure paralysis by funding scientific research, medical treatment, rehabilitation and technological advances benefiting those with spinal cord injuries, stroke victims and people diagnosed with ALS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. In addition to initiating local and national advocacy efforts on behalf of those disabled, SSPF also funds national "Days at the Races" and "Run, Walk 'N Wheelathon" programs.***All four members of the iconic heavy metal band Megadeth attended today at IMS, as the iconic heavy metal band will perform tonight at the Murat Theatre in downtown Indianapolis.Drummer Shawn Drover sent a thank-you message after the visit to Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing team, which spent time with the band.SHAWN DROVER: "Hi, Matt, Shawn from Megadeth here. Just wanted to thank you and everybody involved the Fuzzy's Premium Vodka team for being so cool to us. I'm a big time golfer and have been a fan of Fuzzy's (Zoeller) for over 30 years, so that was a big thrill for me. Thanks for everything."***Indianapolis 500 veteran and 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series veteran Tony Kanaan is racing June 6 at the Prelude To The Dream at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, joining NASCAR, NHRA and World of Outlaws stars in a Late Model dirt-track race that benefits charity.HBO Pay-Per-View will televise the event live at 8 p.m. (ET), with net proceeds supporting Feed The Children, a U.S.-based charity thatdomestically has helped more than 365,000 families since 2009 through its Americans Feeding Americans Caravan.Other stars racing in the Prelude include Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Bobby Labonte, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon and Danica Patrick, Kenny Wallace and Ken Schrader from NASCAR, Ron Capps and Cruz Pedregon from NHRA, and Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz from World of Outlaws.The 2012 edition of the Prelude To The Dream includes hot laps, qualifying, heat races and a 40-lap feature with double-file "shootout style" restarts.
WEDNESDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local): 8 a.m. Garages open
Noon-6 p.m. Indianapolis 500 practice
***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.