Andretti leads Opening day at Indy
Rookie Milka Duno (Right) completed the four phases of the Rookie Orientation Program on the Opening Day of preparations for the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500.
Duno, driving the No. 23 CITGO Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, lapped the 2.5-mile oval in 42.0310 seconds, 214.128 mph.
"I understand now why drivers say Indianapolis is the most difficult track in the world. Everything happens so quick, so fast. You have to be precise in every corner. All four corners are different. You have to drive with so much concentration and focus and so precisely."
Rookie driver Phil Giebler passed two of the four phases of rookie testing while several veteran drivers turned laps as part of refresher tests, including Michael Andretti, Ryan Briscoe, Jon Herb, Jaques Lazier and Davey Hamilton, who turned his first competitive IndyCar Series laps since he was involved in a crash in 2001. Andretti led all drivers with a fast lap of 40.9330, 219.871 mph.
"It was great to get back out there today, get a few laps in and get all of the cobwebs out," Andretti said. "I'm looking forward to a great month of May."
Rookie Orientation and driver refresher tests continue May 7. The first practice open to all veterans of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 9.
FASTEST SPEEDS OF DAY
Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed
1 39 Michael Andretti D/H/F 219.871 mph (Right)
2 12 Ryan Briscoe D/H/F 218.215 mph
3 02 Davey Hamilton D/H/F 218.022 mph
4 21 Jaques Lazier P/H/F 216.467 mph
5 23 Milka Duno D/H/F 214.128 mph
6 19 Jon Herb D/H/F 211.697 mph
7 21 Phil Giebler P/H/F 209.387 mph
. Jimmy Kite is now driver of the #18 PDM Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone.
. Davey Hamilton is now driver of the #02 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone.
Jaques Lazier, driver of the #21 Playa Del Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone, took the honor of being the first driver on track for Opening Day at the 91st Indianapolis 500, an honor that sometimes has been hard-fought over the years. The best start by the driver first on track over the last 25 years has been by Raul Boesel, who started second in 1994. The best finish is second, set by Marco Andretti last year.
Danica Patrick may be the biggest beneficiary of Street Sense's win in the 133rd Kentucky Derby on May 5. In two of the last four years, the winners of the Indianapolis 500 and Kentucky Derby have shared the same number. Funny Cide and Gil de Ferran shared the No. 6 in 2003, and Smarty Jones and Buddy Rice shared 15 in 2005. Street Sense wore No. 7, the same number as Patrick's Honda-powered Dallara. Overall, the Derby and Indianapolis 500 winners have shared the same number eight times:
Year Derby winner Indianapolis 500 winner Number
1915 Regret Ralph De Palma 2
1940 Gallahadion Wilbur Shaw 1
1970 Dust Commander Al Unser 2
1976 Bold Forbes Johnny Rutherford 2
1978 Affirmed Al Unser 2
1997 Silver Charm Arie Luyendyk 5
2003 Funny Cide Gil de Ferran 6
2004 Smarty Jones Buddy Rice 15
USAC short-track veteran and former IndyCar Series driver Dave Steele is at the Speedway today.
DAVE STEELE: "I'm showing my age. I have a birthday coming up tomorrow - (Running at Indianapolis) was quite a few years ago, and now I just focus on the short track stuff and still have fun doing it, and it pays the bills. (About the transition from sprint, midget, Silver Crown to Indy): "It was a transition, for sure. For a guy running a front engine car with no downforce but then there was the transition on the P.R. side. Finding money, looking for sponsors and that kind of thing - so I ended back on the short tracks but I don't have any regrets about it."
(About heartbreak of having a mechanical failure send him into the wall at Indy): "It really was frustrating, and that was another deal where we needed to get some sponsorship, and I gut busted up a little bit - I believe that was in 1999 - but that's just the way it was." (When he drives by IMS what does he think?): "I just approach it as that's just the way it worked out - you don't have to have money but it sure helps out. But I had a few opportunities but it just didn't work out."
Selected quotes from A.J. Foyt's Opening Ceremony interview with Tom Carnegie:
A.J. FOYT: "Tom, you couldn't have said no nicer words. But let me tell you something, I was pretty damn scared of you, too. Indianapolis was my dream. It still is my dream. Ladies and gentleman, Tom can probably go back and tell you that when I first started, everyone thought I wouldn't live to be 25. I don't know whether that's a good thing or not. These golden years aren't what they say they're supposed to be. I loved the silver years a lot better. So y'all remember that. A lot of people said, 'You won Indy, why do you go to Terre Haute to race, why do you run the Hoosier Hundred?' Those are the people who helped me get started, and those are the people I wanted to race for." Right, AJ Foyt talks to son Larry Foyt who drove his 1967 winning car.
"People ask why I didn't go Formula One. I was offered some great rides in Formula One through the years. But the American people made A.J. Foyt, and those are the people who made A.J. Foyt. Those are the people I wanted to race in front of. I have a lot of good friends overseas, but I just love the American people."
"We had some great years. My dream was, every time I got hurt real bad, my dream was to come back to Indianapolis. I'll still be back here for quite a few years. The Georges and Hulmans were so great to me. When I first got here, I couldn't even get a pit pass."
A total of nine cars are currently at the Speedway. Nine have passed technical inspection. Seven drivers have been on the track to date and have turned 191 laps this month. Milka Duno turned 79 laps today, most of any driver this month. There were three cautions for a total of 41 minutes.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Food & Beverage served approximately 7,000 mini-pancakes to 2,000 fans during this morning's "Flapjacks at the Track" breakfast. If stacked on top of each other, the stack would be 146 feet tall. The Bombardier Learjet Pagoda stands 153 feet.
POST PRACTICE QUOTES:
DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 02 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The track is so unique. The corners are so different. They all look the same, but each corner has a different character to it. What's helped me a lot is that 2-seater program. I don't know if you guys have been for a ride with me or not in that thing, but I have a lot of laps in the 2-seater program. That helps a lot because the line is the same, the track is the same, the walls are the same. That helped me have a little advantage today. I feel confident getting into the car, but the speed is a lot different. I'm getting use to the speed. It was a great race car. The set up that we had today is our race set up so I feel pretty good. It was great to drive. It's just one step at a time. I have great teammates with Ed (Carpenter), Anthony (AJ Foyt IV) and Tomas (Scheckter) to help me throughout this month. The great thing for me is that I can run the whole month. I think I said when I came back, I wanted to make sure a proper program with Hewlett Packard coming aboard and AMD. Vision Racing has given me an opportunity to join the team and its a great team. It's proper. It's a proper way."
MILKA DUNO (No. 23 CITGO Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I understand now why drivers say Indianapolis is the most difficult track in the world. Everything happens so quick, so fast. You have to be precise in every corner. All four corners are different. You have to drive with so much concentration and focus and so precisely."
JAQUES LAZIER (No. 21 Playa Del Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The car felt good. We really just went out there today to shake the car down, and get it ready for Phil (Giebler) to go out there and pass his rookie test. The car is really solid and consistent. That will be really important as we start to work on it more meticulously throughout the month. I tried to make some erratic moves out there, so that we could make sure the car was solid for Phil." (About sharing car with teammate Phil Giebler): "Phil is good kid. He's very anxious to learn, and the takes the advice that's given to him. I'm not saying I'm the best guy out on the track, but I've done this before and Phil respects that. It really is great to have a guy who is willing to listen, and learn from the guys around him. He is going to be a great addition to this team."
PHIL GIEBLER (No. 21 Playa Del Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I wanted to go out there and get a good feel for the track. I really just wanted to get out there. The car feels good. The guys made it really safe, and easy for me to drive. There was a bit of understeer, but I think picking up speed will take care of that." (About working with Jaques Lazier): "Jaques is a great guy to learn from. His setup on the car made it easy to go out there and run solid laps." (About completing two phases): "I felt like we just needed a little more time out there. I just wanted to put the throttle all the way down, and start going full speed, but the guys wouldn't let me do that. I can't wait to start running the car wide open. I think we're going to surprise a lot of people this month."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (No. 39 Motorola/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was great to get back out there today, get a few laps in and get all of the cobwebs out. I'm looking forward to a great month of May."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 12 Symantec Luczo Dragon Racing Dallara/Honda/ Firestone): "It was great to be out there. We just shook down the car today and made sure that everything was bolted on right. I felt really comfortable and we got right up to speed. I'm looking forward to getting more laps in the rest of the week."
MONDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
9 a.m. Public Gates Open
Noon-5 p.m. Rookie Orientation Program
6 p.m. Track Closes IRL PR