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DATE News (chronologically)
05/04/08
irl
Power fastest as 10 drivers pass Indy rookie orientation
Ten drivers completed all four phases of the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the track opened for the 92nd Running of 500-Mile Race.

Will Power
Steve Snoddy/IRL
Will Power was the quickest among a class of 13 rookies, the most since 1997. The rookies have two days of practice on the historic 2.5-mile oval before the track is opened to all drivers on May 6.

Power’s fastest lap in the No. 8 Aussie Vineyard-Team Australia entry was 40.7804 seconds, 220.694 mph.

Eleven rookies and two-time Indianapolis 500 starter Max Papis, who along with Davey Hamilton must complete a refresher test, combined to complete 661 incident-free laps. All Indianapolis 500 rookies must pass a four-phase orientation program, demonstrating consistent car control for 10 laps each at four increasing levels of speed.

Power, Jaime Camara, Jay Howard, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alex Lloyd, Hideki Mutoh, Graham Rahal, Oriol Servia, E.J. Viso and Justin Wilson passed all four phases. Enrique Bernoldi completed three phases and may complete the fourth phase at any point later in the month.

Mario Dominguez could only smile
Dana Garrett/IRL
Mario Moraes completed three laps late in the day, while Mario Dominguez did not take the track. Both drivers must complete the first three phases of ROP Monday to remain eligible to compete in the Indianapolis 500 on May 25. 

FASTEST SPEEDS OF THE DAY:
Practice Sunday for the Indianapolis 500 IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile oval, with position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine and speed:

1. (8) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 220.694
2. (33) EJ Viso, Dallara-Honda, 220.445
3. (5) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 220.102
4. (16) Alex Lloyd, Dallara-Honda, 219.964
5. (27) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 219.824
6. (17T) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 219.797
7. (34) Jaime Camara, Dallara-Honda, 219.175
8. (06) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 218.619
9. (02) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 218.142
10. (36T) Enrique Bernoldi, Dallara-Honda, 217.338
11. (24T) Jay Howard, Dallara-Honda, 217.247
12. (44) Max Papis, Dallara-Honda, 214.068
13. (19) Mario Moraes, Dallara-Honda, 186.445

INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
 
JAY HOWARD (No. 24 Roth Racing): “It went good. We started off a little bit later than everyone else. Just wanted to take our time. We've got a full month, so there's no rush for us. We had a couple of issues just to start off. We got them ironed out and did our steps and went through them as we needed and got them out of the way. We're happy and ready for tomorrow. We've got five hours of track time tomorrow to start playing and start getting into the 220s. “It's so nice to come here and pace yourself, build up to it. If the car doesn't feel quite right, just come in. It's nice to know that you're not up against time. You don't feel like, ‘I've got to get this in,’ or ‘We've got to get runs in.’ Just take your time, if it doesn't feel right, just pull it in. Check something, make some changes, go again. OK, that feels better, do your run. There's no point in letting this place bite you. So for us, it was a good day. We accomplished what we wanted, and hopefully tomorrow we'll get around the 220s and then after than we're going to start heading more toward the 225s and in that area.”
 
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream): “Today went very well for the Formula Dream team. It would’ve been a perfect day if I was the fastest driver today, but I am happy with the car. It is very exciting for me to be racing in the IndyCar Series at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Indianapolis 500 is such a big race, so I am very excited to be part of it. I have to learn the track and get used to being in traffic with so many cars, but we will keep practicing and I am confident to be ready by race day.”
 
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald’s Racing Team): “This definitely feels like the right way around the track. This is a completely different place from when I ran in Formula One here. Someone told me it was like four quick corners on a road course, and that is what I have found. The car goes where you point it, whereas on some of the other ovals that is not the case. It’s a really cool feeling when the car releases out of the corner and onto the straight. Looking at Turn 1 is pretty cool. You just head down there and all you can see is the wall, and just when you start to panic the corner opens up and you turn in and the car flows so well. It’s a real pleasure; I’m having fun driving the McDonald’s car here. It was a smooth day. Everything went to plan. The McDonald’s car is working well, and the team is doing a great job. It's a good starting point, and hopefully we can start to work on our setups and begin to take some drag out of the car. You can get to a certain level then you have to start taking downforce out to go quicker. That’s when the car starts to get more difficult and you have to start driving it.”
 
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps): “Surprisingly, I wasn’t nervous at all. I think if you get yourself worked up about it you get really nervous. Then you make errors and mistakes, which can lead to a crash. It’s a big weight off our shoulders to finish ROP, and now we can get down to work and get on with the month, and that’s the biggest thing. Of course it feels good to get a day under our belts, and it’s pretty cool running here too. We didn’t want to use too many sets of tires today. It’s all about conserving those right now. We completed ROP then ran another couple of outings and parked it. We’ll regroup and go back out tomorrow to get a little more track time. Justin (Wilson) and I were both running pretty well, and we’re both running high downforce right now. I don’t know what everybody else is running, but we’re going to start peeling it off here and see what happens. It’s a big place. When you run 220 (mph) here, the speed doesn’t get to you really. We need to gain another nine (mph) or so to get where everyone was last year. I didn’t expect to go as fast as we did right away. I didn’t know what to think, but I’m pretty happy with the way it’s gone.”
 
E.J. VISO (No. 33 PDVSA HVM Racing): “I heard from all these other drivers how difficult and scary this track is, and I really didn’t think it was too bad. For sure the speeds are higher and it is quite a long lap, but I only have two ovals to compare it with. It’s great to be here, and it’s nice that we get so much track time to prepare for the race. I’m looking forward to this month, and I think we will continue to improve as the days pass.”
 
JAIME CAMARA (No. 34 Sangari): “It was great taking my first laps around the Speedway in an IndyCar (Series car). It is a lot quicker than an Indy Lights car that’s for sure. I’m happy that everything went well today. We made progress and we passed the ROP. Before our last run, we made some adjustments to the car just to test some things and then it went really well. I am looking forward to the month. I think as the month continues we are going to make more and more progress everyday, and hopefully we can do a good job in qualifying and qualify the first week.”
 
ENRIQUE BERNOLDI (No. 36 Sangari Conquest Racing): “Turning my first laps here in the Dallara was nice. It’s a great track. It resembles more what I am used to driving, but with really fast corners. The car was good, but we missed some time at the end to complete our rookie test. But we will be able to go tomorrow to get that done, and then we can continue working on the car in preparation for qualifying.”
 
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol): “I’ve been waiting my entire life for this. The straights are just long enough to where you can start thinking about what you can do to the car to make it better, but you can’t think too much because the turns come up quick. And you have some business to do once you get there.”
 
ALEX LLOYD (No. 16 Rahal Letterman with Chip Ganassi): “It was great fun out there. Obviously the speed is the biggest difference, but once you get a few laps in and get used to it everything seems to slow down for you and things felt very comfortable. That’s the nice thing about ROP is that it kind of forces you to take your time and find your way up to speed safely. Now we just have to settle in, learn the subtle nuances of the track and try and gain more speed. It’s weird because I am used to getting to the track on the first day and trying to wring every drop of speed out of the car, and that’s not what it is about here. You really need to take your time, develop the car over the month and you’ll have something you can race with. That’s what we are here for.”
 
WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyard-Team Australia): “We were first out and last in. It was a good day. Initially when I went out I thought, ‘How the hell do you go flat here?’ But we crept up through it. We had a pretty safe car there at the end, it was pretty solid. I was happy to get flat all the way around because that takes you to the next level, and now we start trimming out. We did plenty of mileage because we’re a bit wary of what the weather’s going to be like later in the week, so I’m very happy for the Aussie Vineyards KV Technology team.” (Since you brought it up, how do you go flat around here and how quickly did you get to that point?): “Well, you run a little downforce to make the car safe. Obviously the track’s a little dusty, and we’re rookies and a rookie team as well. At the end of the day it makes the car more settle d and plus, when you’re going quicker there’s more downforce, so it makes the car feel nice and solid and consistent throughout the corner. Now the challenge, you start heading toward 225 mph, you start trimming out, that’s when the driving really comes in and you’ve got to be smart with the setup. You don’t want the car to bite you and end up in the wall, it’s going to cost you a lot of time.”
 
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology): “Times goes fast, it was 2002 actually. I did some laps here with Walker (Racing) and the place is as I remember, it’s always a challenge and a lot of fun. I’m very happy to be here. I’ve been racing in the U.S. since 1998 and never have got a real shot at doing Indy, so I’m very happy to be here and with a great team. Today we accomplished all the goals we had, which was to get used to the car, the track, the speeds. Once we were there, we started getting some miles and learning the car to give the guys some data so they can make the car faster, and I think we did that. I’m very happy with how the car felt and it was a great first day at Indy.” (Because this track has four distinct corners, you have to develop a pace and rhythm to really get around here, and historically guys with road course experience do we'll here because they understand that. Do you agree with that?): “I believe so. The corners are definitely closer to what would be, I don’t know, Turn 1 at Elkhart (Lake, Wis.), than Homestead, I would say. It’s a combination of both – you have banking and you go in with a lot of speed, and there’s a lot of things happening right away. At Homestead and other superspeedways, you’re going really fast but everything happens really slow in the corner. Here, everything comes to you really quick in Turn 1, you’re breathing, ‘OK, I’m through the turn,’ and you’re in Turn 2 right away, so it’s definitely a different rhythm.”
***
A total of 18 cars are currently at the Speedway and have passed technical inspection. Thirteen drivers have been on the track to date and have turned 661 laps this month. Will Power turned 93 laps today, most of any driver this month. There were two cautions for a total of 18 minutes.
*** 
MONDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
9 a.m.  Public Gates Open 
Noon-5 p.m.  Rookie Orientation Program 
6 p.m.  Track Closes 

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