46-year old rookie wins pole for Indy pro race
Proving that 100% throttle racing is so easy, 46-year old rookie Ken Losch topped a field of 24 drivers to win the SWE Pole Award for the May 25 Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Losch recorded a two-lap average of 188.231 mph (1 minute, 35.6271 seconds) on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. He became the oldest driver to win a pole in the Indy Pro Series.
Series points leader Alex Lloyd (188.080 mph) will join Losch on Row 1. The penultimate qualifier, he broke up a potential all-Apex Racing front row. Mike Potekhen, driving the No. 53 Apex Racing car, posted an average of 187.686 mph. He will share Row 2 with Super Aguri Panther Racing's Hideki Mutoh (187.341).
Losch and Ryan Ruth founded Apex Racing in 2004 and are in their first season fielding a two-car team in the Indy Pro Series, the development series for the IndyCar Series. The team competed in Star Mazda last year, with Potekhen finishing fourth and Losch 12th in the standings.
AFS Racing driver Wade Cunningham (187.341), the 2006 Freedom 100 winner, will share Row 3 with Indiana native Logan Gomez (187.016) in the No. 23 Isilon Systems/Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car. Chris Festa (186.839), driving the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing car, and Matt Jaskol (186.728) in the No. 8 Michael Crawford Motorsports car, will be on Row 4.
The 40-lap race is part of Miller Lite Carb Day, which includes the final IndyCar Series practice prior to the Indianapolis 500 on May 27, the Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge and the Miller Lite Carb Day Concert, featuring Kid Rock.
POST PRACTICE NOTEBOOK:
Six Indy Pro Series teams that will field entries in the Freedom 100 have direct ties to teams with cars in the Indianapolis 500:
. Andretti Green Racing, which has five entries in the Indianapolis 500, fields a full-time entry for 2005 Freedom 100 winner Jaime Camara.
. Panther Racing, which has three entries in the Indianapolis 500, fields an entry for rookie Hideki Mutoh.
. Playa Del Racing, which has two cars in the "500," fields an entry for Al Unser III.
. Rahal Letterman Racing, which has two cars in the "500," has entries for Andrew Prendeville and Joey Scarallo.
. Sam Schmidt Motorsports, which will field a car for Buddy Lazier in the "500," also fields full-time entries for Alex Lloyd, Logan Gomez and Ryan Justice.
. Target Chip Ganassi Racing, which has two entries in the Indianapolis 500, fields a full-time entry for Chris Festa.
Four drivers competing in the Freedom 100 have visited Victory Lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Wade Cunningham and Jaime Camara are past winners of the Freedom 100 on the famed 2.5-mile oval. Alex Lloyd won the Liberty Challenge on the road course in 2006, while Matt Jaskol won a Formula BMW USA race on the road course in 2004.
U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) named Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chief Executive Officer Tony George as the May 2007 Lugar Energy Patriot for his leadership in the IndyCar Series' decision to fuel its cars this season with 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol.
The award is part of an ongoing effort by Lugar to recognize members of the business community, professionals, scholars or students who demonstrate leadership and initiative in taking concrete action to reduce America's dependence on foreign energy sources.
TONY GEORGE: "The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a long history of innovation. Ethanol-powered race cars are the latest example. We are pleased that the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series are contributing to energy independence."
RICHARD LUGAR: "Tony George's decision to power IndyCar Series cars on ethanol at venues such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway signals to the American public that ethanol is a premier, high-performance fuel. It has tremendous environmental benefits and is a key component to energy independence for our country."
One of the most popular and exciting events of the month of May at Indianapolis returns for the 31st time Friday: the Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge on Miller Lite Carb Day.
The Challenge, which determines the fastest pit crew in the IndyCar® Series, starts at 1:30 p.m. Television coverage of the Challenge will start at 4 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.
Ten pit crews will compete this year in the Challenge for a $50,000 first prize from a $100,000 purse. Crews include the defending Challenge champion, the No. 3 Team Penske crew led by chief mechanic Rick Rinaman. It was the record ninth victory in the Challenge for Team Penske.
Six of the qualified 2007 Challenge crews earned their spots through speedy pit work at IndyCar Series races following the 2006 Indianapolis 500. Those crews include the Team Penske crew of No. 3 Castroneves, the Andretti Green Racing crews of No. 7 Danica Patrick, No. 11 Tony Kanaan and No. 27 Dario Franchitti, and the Target Chip Ganassi Racing crews of No. 9 Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon.
Three crews qualified due to their position in the IndyCar Series points, including the Panther Racing crew of No. 4 Vitor Meira, the No. 2 Vision Racing crew of Tomas Scheckter and the Rahal Letterman Racing crew of No. 8 Scott Sharp.
The 10th participant, the No. 6 Penske Racing crew and driver Sam Hornish Jr., 2006 Indianapolis 500 winners and IndyCar Series champions, was added to the Challenge as a promoter's option.
As in 2006, the Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge is split into a Qualifications Round and Eliminations Rounds.
All 10 crews will complete a simulated pit stop in the Qualifications Round, with the fastest and second-fastest crews automatically advancing to the semifinals of the Eliminations Round. The crews with the third- through sixth-fastest times will move to the quarterfinals of Eliminations. The four slowest crews in Qualifications are eliminated and will earn sixth through 10th place based on their Qualifications Round times.
Crews with the third- through sixth-fastest times in Qualifications will participate in the quarterfinals of Eliminations. Those winners will advance to the semifinals against the two fastest crews from the Qualifications Round, with the winners of those pairings squaring off in the finals.
During every pit stop in Qualifications and Eliminations, crews must change all four tires while making a simulated fuel hose connection to the car. Fuel is not used in the Challenge.
Time penalties of various lengths will be assessed for violations, such as running over an air hose, leaving the pits before the wheels are properly tightened and pit crews and equipment straying from the marked pit box during the stop.
SWE RACE CAR PARTS POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:
. This is Ken Losch's first career SWE Pole Award in the Indy Pro Series. His previous best start was 14th at Homestead earlier this year.
. This is the first pole position for Apex Racing, which is owned by Losch. The team's previous best start was 10th with Mike Potekhen at Homestead earlier this year.
. The winner of the SWE Pole Award has gone on to win the Freedom 100 every year since the inaugural race in 2003. Ed Carpenter (2003), Thiago Medeiros (2004), Jaime Camara (2005) and Wade Cunningham (2006) each won the race from pole.
. Alex Lloyd will start second. He has qualified on the front row for each of the Indy Pro Series races where SWE Pole Qualifying has been held this year.
. Defending race winner Wade Cunningham qualified fifth, matching his best qualifying effort of the season. He also qualified fifth for the season-opening race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 2005 winner Jaime Camara qualified 18th.
SWE RACE CAR PARTS POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:
KEN LOSCH (No. 52 AvenueCommunities.com, SWE Pole Award winner): "You couldn't ask for anything better. I was a little bit slow this morning. I was sixth and then 11th in the first two practice sessions. Came in, made a few car changes, went the right way and just got it right." (About his brief racing career): "It's my first few races in this program and a Star Mazda season. It's pretty awesome. I've got a good teacher; I've got a good team. It's everybody. It's the whole program." (About his race plans starting from the pole): "I'm going to have to go figure that out tonight. I've never had to think through that. We've got a good car. I want to get out as far as I can and stay out as far as I can, and make it happen."
ALEX LLOYD (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Systems/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, qualified second: "I'm really disappointed to not be on the pole. I really felt like after the Open Test we were in a good position for the pole. Today the conditions were so much different than they were during the test in April that it didn't work out for us. We had a really good car during qualifying. We got it together; really good job by the team. We just missed out on Lap 2. All in all, we're happy; we're on the front row. I think tomorrow is going to be very tough, but I'm looking forward to it."
AL UNSER III (No. 12 Playa Del Racing, qualified 12th): "Qualifying went really good today. The Playa Del Racing Car did excellent. I have to thank Ethos and National Car Rental for getting me in the car. We went out there and ran as fast as we could. That's about the speed we have. I worked on it during practice to kind of stay by myself and not get out there and draft a lot, which a lot of the guys did, so I ended up down the charts in practice." (About key to the Freedom 100): "The key to tomorrow's race is patience. We've got to start the race - I mean, it's not as long as the big guys' race, it's not as long as the '500.' But we do have 100 miles, and it's a decently long race. Right in the beginning, you've just got to have some patience and some resiliency and get single file. Once we get single file, we'll run most of the race like that, I believe. You never can foresee what's going to happen during the race, but as soon as the last 10 laps come, I think that it will start to get dicey again as long as everyone is close enough to do it."
JAIME CAMARA (No. 11 Osofresh, qualified 18th): "I think it was just the track conditions. In the morning, we had a pretty good setup. The track was a little bit cooler. We didn't figure out what to do when the track is this condition. Right now, it's really hot. We need to figure out what to do on the warm-up. We should be really good tomorrow."
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., qualified fifth): "It was solid. We know that there wasn't 2 more miles an hour to go. I think we left a little bit on the table. We know that time's not good enough for pole. Its just not." (Do you think your car has what it takes to win again this year?): "There is no reason why we shouldn't be battling for the win. Actually going out and winning it is a little harder than talking about it."
ANDREW PRENDEVILLE (No. 5 RLR/Andersen Racing, qualified 10th): "The car was real good. The wind didn't affect it too much. I think the RLR/Andersen Racing guys did a good job with the setup. I think there's a little more speed in the Best Friends Animal Society car, and it's a big improvement from how we started at Homestead. We keep improving every time we go out. Hopefully we can keep improving. I hope all the fans will go to racinglapsforbestfriends.com and make their pledges. We'll do our best to complete all the laps tomorrow and get a good finish."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 55 Panther Racing, qualified fourth): "It wasn't too well. I wanted to really hold the pole position. It was a little disappointing." (Were you running a race setup?): "We were running a qualifying setup now and will change tomorrow for the race."
LOGAN GOMEZ (No. 23 Isilon Systems/Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, qualified sixth): "The car felt real good. The team did a great job putting it together, Getting me real confident with the car and the setup. We were pretty quick in practice, and I am glad we could back it up with a good qualifying position. The teammates did really good and were a great help in getting a good setup. Hopefully we can move to the front in the race and stay there and have a good, successful run." (Do you enjoy this track?): "Yeah, this is my home state track. It's an honor to be here and race on this at such a young age. Hopefully I have quite a few supporters from Indiana behind me and should put on a good show."
CHRIS FESTA (No. 9 CGR Indy Pro Series, qualified seventh): (How badly damaged was your car this morning?): "Nothing really, just a couple of suspension pieces. We had a brake failure, which caused one of the wheels to lock up as we were coming into the pits. I was barely touching the brakes. We got it sorted out and got the car back together, and it was fine." (Did it have any impact on the run today?): "No. The car just didn't have the speed we were expecting it to have today. We aren't really sure what happened there. We just did not expect it to be that slow. But we'll get it back."
MIKE POTEKHEN (No. 53 TRACARES Special, qualified third): "It was a good run. My teammate got me by just a tick there. Our cars are great in traffic, and they're good by themselves. The team has been doing their homework. The cars were both brand new coming into this year, and to be honest, we were behind the 8-ball going into the first race. We've had some time over the last couple months to get the body work to fit better and get the crew a little more organized, and I think it shows by our performance today, and I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow."
MATT JASKOL (No. 8 Michael Crawford Motorsports, qualified eighth): "You've got to have so much respect for this place. If this place wants you to do good, it will let you. You can have a really solid, stable car, but you've got to be so smooth and respect this place, I can't emphasize that enough. The car was good. Crawford Motorsports gave me a really good car, and I was comfortable." (About winning a Formula BMW USA support race here during the 2004 USGP): "It was, obviously, one of the greatest accomplishments of my life to win at Indy, but it was going that way (clockwise on the F1 track). To possibly win on this course going the right way, and to be the first driver to win on both tracks and to keep that record at home with an American would be a dream of mine."
JON BROWNSON (No. 34 SWE Racing/SWE Race Car Parts, qualified ninth): "I think that qualifying went really well today, and only time will tell. We gave it the best we could. We were flat out for two laps, so life is good." (About confidence): "My confidence going into tomorrow is at an all-time high. We came here with a great setup and with a great car thanks to the SWE crew and Tim Wardrop, my race engineer, and Steve Eppert, my team owner, provided me with the best package a driver could ask for. It makes this part easy."
FREEDOM 100 FRONT-ROW QUALIFIERS PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES:
KEN LOSCH: "It was a little slow this morning. I was sixth and 11th in the first two practice sessions. We mad a few changes to the car and made a few changes to the driver line and so on. It was a combination of all of those things. The car just got better. It got better in that second session. Without a pull down that straightaway, we were 11th and some pretty good time. We just hit it right. It's got the right line and got the car set up perfectly. Essentially, all I had to do was steer the car through the corner. What we did was change the car and then changed the line. We did some car changes and then tried it on the same line and on a different line, and the car preformed. The thing is that we're a very late entry into the Indy Pro Series, so we have a lot of new people and you could really feel, today, the team really come together. We were tripping over our own shoelaces in the earlier races, and even this morning, we were saying, 'It's working, it's sweet.' We seem to be on a roll, no pun intended." (About racing at Indianapolis): "The track sneaks up on you a little bit because it is so large. You tend to relax a little bit more. It's an intense track, but coming down those straightaways, you can relax a little bit more so you have to stay focused. You kind of go in relaxed mode to focused mode, and you find it's really intense. The thing that I like about this series so much is how professionally it's run. I've ran in other series before, a series last year, and we have a lot of confidence in how the management is running this series, in terms of rules and regulations, the upkeep of those. It's very professional, and therefore, very safe." (About the pole sitter winning every Freedom 100): "As Alex (Lloyd) said, not only can the track change throughout the day, but it can change throughout the race. We've got IndyCars going out. There's going to be different rubber on the track, and a car that's great in qualifying isn't necessarily the best car on the last three laps. It's going to be important to run that whole race consistently, and we may not be out front the whole time, but we'll try to be." (About making car work with adjustments vs. driving): "I think it's a combination of both. I think it's about 70 to 80 percent adjusting the car. I think the secret here is to be able to adjust the car, be able to give your engineer the right feedback, and I'm just starting to get to the point now - from the Star/Mazda series last year, this is just my fourth race or whatever we're in now - where you can give good, solid feedback and notice that input right away so that you're not chasing and getting ahead of yourself. You're getting the right changes and going the right way. I'd say it's about 70 to 80 percent changes because if the car's not going to work, there's nothing you can do. There are a lot of great drivers out here who have their foot to the floor today, and the car was either going to do it, or not going to do it."
ALEX LLOYD: "I was pretty pleased with our qualifying run, to be honest with you. We really struggled during the day. Qualifying sims in session two, we were a long way off. Conditions changed so drastically from when we were here on April 27, it was a 60- or 70-degree day, and here we are in the mid- to high-80s. It's changed a lot. Not really caught us off guard, but it was a lot different than what we were expecting. So we put on a setup that was untested for qualifying and hoped for the best. Like I said, we didn't do any runs, and I thought we were going to be in the wall a couple of times in session two. But all credit to the team, they put a great setup on it, and we went out there, and we did a good job. We didn't quite have enough, unfortunately. I think that second lap cost us a little bit. We were very quick lap one, but lap two we lost a little bit. We had a bit of understeer, but all in all, we're very happy. We're on the front row. It's obviously not the number-one spot, but I think a lot of people found difficulty today in the conditions. So I'm happy we got it all together and were able to pull off a good result." (About competition in the race): "There's a lot of competition in this race. The field has greatly improved. There's a lot more depth in this series this year. I think last year, we had maybe four or five guys toward the front that you thought were capable of winning at one time. Now we have 15 or 16 drivers that are capable of winning and have a team behind them that are capable of winning, so for sure it makes it very difficult. Hopefully with myself and Ken on the front row, we won't see too much of those other guys behind and we won't have to worry about more cars for this race than last year. I'm hoping we can just have a few of us break away at the front, but we'll see what happens. This is Indy, and a lot can happen. Track conditions can change drastically overnight, so we'll see how it all plays out. But I think it's going to be a very close race. I don't see anyone running away with it." (About what it means from racing at Indy): "It's a racecourse that's different to every other. It's not like the normal, traditional oval that we'll visit at Homestead or Chicago or Milwaukee. It's a place of its own. For some reason, this track seems to change more than any other. And it seems to change, not just from day to day, but within a half an hour. On one run, you go out with exactly the same setup and it's completely different, so it's something. And the wind, as well. The wind was really something today, as well, and it really played havoc with our car. I'm sure it did with everybody else, and that's just something you have to take in to account because that can change during the race. It's a tough track that requires a lot of concentration. There's very long straights here, and the point at which you have to turn in, at such a very high speed, is so small, and you have to be very focused all the way through to make sure that you keep hitting those points. It's just one of those places that, I think, the concentration required to do the job is more so than other tracks. You need a good car, and you have to be committed, really, all the way around."