For the second year in a row, David Ragan will lead the field to the green flag in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Showdown race with a coveted transfer spot into the Sprint All Star race for the winner and runner-up on the line.
Ragan was the last of 27 drivers to take to the track and knocked A.J. Allmendinger off the pole with a lap of 28.172 seconds (191.680 mph) in the no. 6 UPS Ford Fusion, nailing his second straight pole for the 40-lap event.
Allmendinger held second, followed by Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski and Jeff Burton.
Indy Fast Friday News Tidbits Alex Tagliani and Ed Carpenter on top of speed charts for most of the day, but a last-hour run by Helio Castroneves (228.611) took fast speed of the day. This marked one of the few bright spots of the season for Helio. However, Helio still said he saw Jesus during this scary fast lap (referring of course to last year, when he said he talked to Jesus on pole day). Helio admitted that he caught a tow on the lap, and not likely to repeat the performance tomorrow. Although, he added, he thought that everyone had a bit more in the tank for tomorrow. The "Tow report" -- which eliminates any car's time when it's less than 7 seconds behind another car -- reports that Scott Dixon was the fastest non-tow at 227.9, followed by Helio, Powers, Tagliani and Bertrand Baguette.
FYI, Bertrand is from Belgium. Not France. Don't make that mistake. Bertrand is fast, and don't make the mistake of ignoring the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team in your office pools either. Bertrand is 5th on the combined speed charts.
Castroneves tops Friday speeds at Indy An exciting "Fast Friday" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway set the stage for Saturday's Pole Day qualifying, with Team Penske's Helio Castroneves setting the pace with a lap of 228.611 mph, the fastest run in four days of practice this week.
Other potential pole contenders include both Alex Tagliani with Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Sarah Fisher Racing's Ed Carpenter, who have been at or near the top of the speed charts all week; Castroneves' teammates, Ryan Briscoe and Will Power; and the Target Chip Ganassi Racing duo of Scott Dixon and defending race winner Dario Franchitti.
All but one of the 40 drivers in the field practiced today. Simona de Silvestro is not yet cleared to drive after suffering burns in a spectacular crash during practice on Thursday. A rear suspension failure sent de Silvestro's HVM Racing Honda Dallara hard into the Turn 3 wall. The car then became airborne and rolled before coming to rest, on fire, in Turn 4.
F1 governing body investigating Ferrari rear wing Ferrari's new rear wing may be illegal and is being closely looked at by Formula One's governing body, FIA race director Charlie Whiting said on Friday.
"We are aware of the development on the Ferrari rear wing and we are currently discussing it with Ferrari," he told reporters at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Asked whether Spaniard Fernando Alonso and Brazilian Felipe Massa would be able to use it for Saturday's final practice and qualifying, Whiting added: "That will depend on what we decide tonight.
"It's a very clever interpretation of the rules and we've got to decide whether we think it's a good interpretation of the rules."
Raikkonen's NASCAR debut gets off to slow startUPDATE
Raikkonen and Busch joke around
05/20/11 Former Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen doesn’t know how long his NASCAR experiment will last, but he hopes it goes better than his first couple of hours of practice.
Raikkonen was 30th in both Camping World Truck Series practices Friday morning at Charlotte Motor Speedway as he was more than six mph off the pace of the leaders.
He scraped the wall with both his right front fender and his right rear quarter panel of the Kyle Busch Motorsports truck as he fought a loose truck most of the practice for the N.C. Education Lottery on Friday night.
“I’m still learning,” Raikkonen said Friday following practice. “I haven’t driven once [here]; it was my first time today here. It wasn’t a very good day but we have to start from somewhere and improve.
Bianchi penalized, Van der Garde inherits pole Lotus ART’s Jules Bianchi will not start from pole position in tomorrow’s feature race after he was judged to have ignored the yellow flags in the early stages of this afternoon’s qualifying session. As Fabio Leimer slowed down to a stop following mechanical gremlins, the session was briefly under yellow flags, but the stewards found out that Bianchi had improved his laptime.
The Frenchman was therefore handed a ten grid position penalty and will start from 11th tomorrow. Giedo van der Garde was promoted to pole position, with Sam Bird starting from the front row next to the Barwa Addax man. The Dutchman’s teammate Charles Pic will now start from P3, next to countryman and Series leader Romain Grosjean.
Virgin undecided over upgrade package Marussia Virgin Racing has yet to decide whether it will race the full upgrade package on Timo Glock’s MVR-02 this weekend, with the squad currently working through data gathered by its drivers on Friday. Glock was able to complete 52 laps in Barcelona over the course of both practice sessions, but has admitted that some of the parts may be taken off if they pose too much of a risk ahead of Sunday's Grand Prix.
"At the moment we are focusing on getting to grips with the new exhaust, so we can’t do much in terms of setup or balance work," Glock explained after his day at the wheel.
"Today has mainly been about gathering data. It’s not easy but I think we made some progress and we are starting to understand the philosophy of it. Now we have a lot of work to do overnight before we decide whether to keep the system on the car for tomorrow and the race."
Diffuser protests possible, admits Whiting FIA Technical Delegate Charlie Whiting has explained that teams using clever off-throttle engine map settings to keep exhaust gases flowing over their cars' diffusers could face protests after the Spanish Grand Prix, despite deciding not to ban the performance-enhancing technique at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Virgin and Hispania Racing are examples of outfits that do not currently use the method meaning they, among others, could decide to complain after the event.
"It is always a possibility," Whiting replied when asked about the possibility of protests. "I have made that clear to the teams that it could happen and then we will take it to the stewards in the normal way.
HPD earns Schwitzer Award Honda Performance Development engineers responsible for development of the Honda Refueling Safety Interlock System were honored May 20 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as winners of the 45th Louis Schwitzer Award.
The Louis Schwitzer Award, presented by engineers to engineers, recognizes individuals who explore and develop new concepts in motorsports technology for use in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Award sponsor BorgWarner provides a $10,000 cash prize.
Designed to reduce the potential for pit fires and injuries resulting from drivers leaving their pit boxes with refueling equipment still attached – a cause of such fires in the past – the Refueling Safety Interlock System was created by a team at HPD led by Roger Griffiths, Jim Goodloe, Marcelo Martinelli and Robert Bell.
Whiting holds meeting about engine mapping Following Friday practice at the Circuit de Catalunya, FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting is heading a driver meeting in relation to engine mapping, with the Formula 1 governing body having lifted a restriction earlier this week.
The issue relates to the exhaust-blown diffuser, which allows greater rear downforce generated by the hot exhaust gases which exit from the car. However, the FIA is now looking to clamp down on the part being used while off the throttle and under braking - claiming it must not be used for aerodynamic benefits.
It is believed Mercedes GP is one team gaining a particularly benefit from the concept, which could soon be banned permanently.
Lisles-Hampson-Servia-Hinchcliffe-Tzouanakis transcript Welcome to our next press conference. On the docket, this is for Newman/Haas Racing, and we're joined by John Tzouanakis right here to my right; James Hinchcliffe, who had a problem planking, it looks like to me, earlier in the week; Oriol Servia, Craig Hampson, and Brian Lisles.
Brian has been the general manager of the team for the last 10 years. This is his 23rd year with the team, and he is the race strategy for James Hinchcliffe.
Craig is in his 18th year with Newman/Haas Racing and a senior engineer, and he is the engineer for James.
And John has been with the team all 29 seasons and is the race strategist for Oriol.
Let's go first with Brian. Kind of take us through this year so far, and the team that you've got here, and what do you expect to come of the 2011 Indianapolis 500?
Lewis Hamilton Q&A: McLaren struggling with new hard tires With so many teams bringing major updates to Spain, and the Circuit de Catalunya asking such serious questions of a car’s aerodynamics, we could just see a shake-up on the grid this weekend. Friday’s form suggests that if anyone is going to beat the Red Bulls it will be McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. The former champion concedes Vettel and Webber may still have something in hand, and is less than happy with Pirelli’s new hard tire compound, though he admits the latter could help throw up another thrilling race…
Q: Lewis, hand on heart, do you really think you will be able to beat the Red Bulls this weekend? Lewis Hamilton: I think we are just as competitive as we have been in the past, which doesn’t mean that we are close to them. Let’s wait until tomorrow to see how close we really are to them. It really depends on what engine mode they are on. But from our performance I can say that the car felt really good - and in fact much better when we put on the usual tires, as the super hard ones are a disaster. They definitely were not nice to drive.
Two race DRS zones from Montreal onwards The FIA’s Charlie Whiting has confirmed that there will be two DRS zones at each race – if the circuit layout allows it – starting from Montreal. The two zones will have to be consecutive, as the wing will be activated at the same point.
In Montreal they will be the last straight and the pit straight.
Whiting said the software that allows the use of two zones first became available for Turkey, but it wasn’t yet proven.
“We only had the software available in Turkey,” he said. “I thought it was too new and I wanted to make sure there were no bugs in it. We didn’t think there was anywhere suitable here, because they have to be consecutive straights, ideally, because it becomes more complicated the further apart they are.
“The first realistic opportunity we felt was Montreal. And in Valencia as currently planned it will be between Turns 10 and 12, and again between 14 and 17.”
Penske-Cindric-Mears-Castroneves-Briscoe-Power transcript MODERATOR: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I'm Merrill Cain with Team Penske. Thanks for joining us today for the annual Indianapolis 500 Team Penske press conference. We're privileged today to be joined by the key players of the most successful team here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Team Penske.
First off, let's welcome team president, Tim Cindric. Next to him, of course, Roger Penske. Next to him, a man who needs no introduction here at the Speedway, Rick Mears; three-time winner Helio Castroneves. Next to him, driving the No. 6 IZOD car, Ryan Briscoe; and, of course, IZOD IndyCar Series points leader, Will Power is here with us.
Tim, we'll start with you. Obviously, it's a great opportunity to be back here at the Speedway, 100th anniversary of this race and a lot of history going on here over the next week or so. But just talk about, I guess, the lineup, the changes that we've had in sponsorship and some of the new partners that we have on board and what we're looking forward to here in the next week or so.
Andretti team adds another sponsor Andretti Autosport announced today it has signed Grime Boss, a brand of heavy-duty hand-cleaning wipes manufactured by Nice-Pak, to a sponsorship agreement in support of the team's salute to America's armed forces, which begins with the 100th anniversary edition of the Indianapolis 500 and continues through the remainder of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
Andretti Autosport has incorporated all of its Indianapolis 500 entries into the tribute program, which highlights five different units of the United States military. Each of the team's cars, which began practicing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Saturday, feature a specific unit within a branch of the U.S. military. Each Andretti Autosport entry prominently displays an associated military emblem just above the numbers on the tub of the race car.
Ganassi-Rahal-Kimball-Davis press conference transcript MODERATOR: Chip, I don't know if this was the last time we were in this very place, but I do remember a press conference last year with you with the Harley J. Earl Trophy, you and Mr. Penske and the possibility of doing the double, and by gosh you did it. That has to be a great memory, huh?
CHIP GANASSI: Certainly.
MODERATOR: Since then, let's talk about this team. Kind of a blustery day in the early part of the spring we had a press conference downstairs where you announced the formation of this new team with Mitch Davis, very much a part of it. Talk about how it's gone in the early going and your feelings about this upcoming Indianapolis 500.
Muller quickest in second free practice Nico Müller made a return to the top of the GP3 Series time sheet today after setting the pace in this afternoon’s second practice session in Barcelona. The Swiss driver who finished third in the 2010 season standings grabbed the top spot from Marussia Manor Racing’s Rio Haryanto by just 0.082 seconds.
Müller set his fastest lap just a few minutes into what was a relatively quiet session for the thirty young drivers. Rookie Tech 1 Racing’s Antonio Caldarelli showed his continued good form from Istanbul by going second quickest ahead of Lotus ART’s Pedro Nunes and Marussia Manor Racing’s Adrian Quaife-Hobbs. As was the case this morning, waved yellow flags briefly slowed down proceedings midway through the session when Quaife-Hobbs went off track and put an early end to his session.
Morning update from Indy As practice got underway Friday Ed Carpenter hit 228.017, which was is the first 228 of the month. Beautiful conditions 74 degrees, light winds, fluffy clouds. Alex Tagliani then went 228.3 mph on just his 5th lap of the day.
Simona de Silvestro, who was involved in a crash 25 minutes into the practice session May 19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was not cleared to drive in the scheduled six-hour practice session May 20 after being evaluated by INDYCAR medical director Dr. Michael Olinger.
She will be re-evaluated at the IU Health Infield Care Center on May 21, preceding scheduled two practice sessions and Pole Day qualifications. INDYCAR rules allow a substitute driver, but a switch necessitates starting at the rear of the 33-car field.
Does anyone think Alonso and Hamilton (above) could ever be teammates again?
(GMM) Ferrari flirted with Lewis Hamilton on Friday, and the McLaren driver returned the favor as he ponders life beyond his current contract.
Initially when he arrived in Barcelona, pondering the new five-year contract signed by his former McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso, Hamilton interpreted it as a closed door to a possible future with the famous Italian marque.
"I don't really care," said Hamilton, who clashed memorably with Alonso in 2007. "I'll beat him in another car."
But Ferrari responded swiftly, team boss Stefano Domenicali reminding the 26-year-old Briton that Felipe Massa's expiring 2012 contract is in fact an open door at Maranello.
Jules Bianchi put himself back in the hunt with a storming drive to pole position in this afternoon's qualify session in Barcelona, taking full advantage of the track conditions by being the first man onto the circuit and taking the top spot early in the session, ahead of Giedo van der Garde and Sam Bird.
The Dutchman looked to have pole wrapped up on his second flying lap, but his French rival pipped him just seconds later with a lap of 1:30.369, a mere one tenth ahead of the men in P2 and P3, while their rivals struggled to match the times as the clock ticked down.
Schumacher should do 'as he likes' - Berger (GMM) He thinks Michael Schumacher is too old to be at the very front in formula one, but Gerhard Berger does not begrudge his old rival his second career.
Schumacher, the 42-year-old seven time world champion, has come in for a barrage of criticism lately but Berger - who shared the track with the German in the 90s - thinks he is doing well for a racer of advancing years.
"Sure he was dissatisfied," Austrian Berger, referring to the Turkish grand prix two weeks ago, said in Barcelona, where he is attending his first F1 event for a year.
"But Schumacher is 42 and he can't expect to be the same as a 25-year-old.
Barcelona: Webber stays on top in Practice 2 Mark Webber led the way again in second practice for the Spanish Grand Prix, but McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was just 0.039 seconds off the pace as he split Webber and his Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel.
Jenson Button took fourth in the other McLaren, 0.7s off the pace. Fernando Alonso was 5th for Ferrari, a further 0.3s down and just ahead of the Mercedes of Rosberg and Schumacher.
Felipe Massa 8th, 0.8s slower than his Ferrari teammate Alonso. Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber was 9th and Nick Heidfeld rounded out the top-10.
Romain Grosjean has picked up where he left off in Istanbul after setting the pace in this morning's free practice session in Barcelona, claiming the top spot by half a second from Davide Valsecchi and Jules Bianchi.
The Frenchman set his fastest lap of 1:30.559 just five minutes into the quiet session, with his rivals chipping away at his time over the remainder of the session. With all of the teams testing earlier this year, the session was largely used to fine tune their set ups for the weekend.
Grosjean ultimately set the two fastest laps of the session, with everyone happy to drive within themselves and avoid any unnecessary work before this afternoon's qualifying session: the closest thing to an incident during the session was when Fairuz Fauzy ran a little too deep at turn 12 and got stuck in the gravel, bringing his track time to an early end.
IndyCar must make sure it keeps Danica Love her or hate her, the bottom line remains that Danica Patrick is the only Izod IndyCar Series driver who can move the needle. Some see her as a wonderful novelty and others see her as a you-know-what on wheels.
But at least they see her.
Which is why in this, the last year of her contract with Andretti Autosport, the series absolutely, positively, imperatively needs to keep Patrick.
On a list of a thousand things IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard needs to do in the coming years, finding a way to retain Patrick for his series and this race should be top priority.
Q&A with Rubens Barrichello Rubens Barrichello looks ahead to the Spanish GP where he hopes to finally break his and Williams' duck...
Q: Rubens, what are your hopes going into the Spanish Grand Prix? RB: We need to score points. There's too much pressure on all of us at the moment as a result of not scoring points so far this year and we need to break that trend. As well as our position in the constructors' championship, points are what motivate people. They are good for the guys in the factory; they are good for the guys in the pit garage; they are good for the drivers - they're good for everyone.
Raikkonen makes his NASCAR debut amid mystery No one, it seems, knows precisely why Kimi Raikkonen is coming to America except the 2007 Formula One champion. And that's probably perfectly fine with one of the most taciturn drivers in racing.
"He didn't give a (crap) about anything or anyone," says IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who raced against Raikkonen during the 2003 Formula One season. "He just liked to go fast. At the same time, his attitude is interesting. Take Montoya and times it by 10, and that's where Kimi is. I'm not sure how that will go down. Will they even like him? Or just knock him out straightaway?"
The answers finally will be arriving — literally — today at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Raikkonen, 31, will be attempting to make his Camping World Truck Series debut.
The undisclosed illness that has sidelined Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne with blurred vision and other symptoms for more than three weeks will keep him from driving in Saturday's All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Bayne tested Wednesday at Rockingham Speedway for Roush Fenway Racing, which owns Bayne's contract and fields him in the #16 Ford in the Nationwide Series. RFR officials said Bayne, who qualified for the All-Star race by winning the Sprint Cup opener at Daytona in the #21 he drives on a limited basis for the Wood Brothers, did not appear at full strength after more than three weeks of non-activity while undergoing tests.
Bayne's Nationwide car did not make the trip to Iowa for Sunday's race and will not be entered with any driver. The Wood Brothers will not replace Bayne in the All-Star race even though they have that option. Bayne has been having symptoms of blurred vision, pain in his left shoulder and elbow, fatigue and periods of feeling nauseous since early last month. Although the symptoms had subsided enough that it was initially thought Bayne could compete in the All-Star race, it was decided after Wednesday's test he probably needed another week to recuperate and gain back his full strength. ESPN
Bottas sets the pace in Barcelona Lotus ART’s Valtteri Bottas put his stamp on Round 2 of the GP3 Series by setting the quickest time in Practice 1 this morning at Circuit de Catalunya in Istanbul with a lap of 1:38.726.
In stark contrast to the opening GP3 round two weeks ago in Istanbul, the teams were greeted today with sunny and hot conditions at the Spanish track. As the morning session got underway, all thirty cars hit the track as soon as the pitlane opened. Marussia Manor Racing’s Rio Haryanto was the first driver to put in a lap, but it was MW Arden’s Lewis Williamson who led the way for the first half of the session. The Brit went top with a 1:39.665 lap ahead of Atech CRS GP’s Marlon Stockinger, Marussia Manor Racing’s Matais Laine and Tech 1 Racing’s Tamas Pal Kiss.
Red Bull Racing ran 1-2 in opening practice for the Spanish Grand Prix. Mark Webber finished the session 1second ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.
Under clear Barcelona skies, Australian Webber set a time of 1m25.142s early on in the 90 minute session.
Mercedes GP's Nico Rosberg was third quickest, with local hero Fernando Alonso in fourth in the quickest of the Ferraris. Teammate Felipe Massa was out to lunch in 16th position, and clearly outclassed at Ferrari, much like Rubens Barrichello was outclassed in the Schumacher years at Ferrari.
Kanaan to compete in 'Prelude' again Tony Kanaan will compete for the second consecutive year in the Prelude to the Dream on June 8 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
Kanaan, the 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion, will join other stars from different motorsports disciplines in the event that benefits children's hospitals. It will be broadcast on HBO Pay-Per-View.
“I’m thrilled to be back in the Prelude to the Dream,” Kanaan said. “It’s an amazing lineup of drivers and we’re all competing for such a good cause. It’s very rare for me to get a chance to drive something other than my GEICO/KV Racing Technology-Lotus and to not have to race with points in mind. I’m not saying I’m going to do anything crazy, because the goal is to help my team win, but I’m definitely going to have some fun.”
No. 11 crew wins pitstop competition The No. 11 FedEx Toyota pit crew captured the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew ChallengeTM presented by Craftsman team champion title, defending the team’s title from 2010, by defeating the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet pit crew with a time of 22.298 seconds.
The No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet pit crew finished second with a time of 22.714 seconds. A new team event record was set in the quarterfinal round by the No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet pit crew with a time of 21.472 seconds.
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