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Tracy fastest as 4 rookies pass Indy 500 test
Paul Tracy in the GEICO KV Racing Technology car
It didn’t take long for open-wheel superstar Paul Tracy to get up to speed.  In his first appearance for KV Racing Technology at the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway and first at the Brickyard since his controversial runner-up finish in 2002, Tracy, in the #15 GEICO – KV Racing Technology Honda/Dallara/Firestone machine, turned the fastest lap of the day with a speed of 223.089.

Tracy, who ran a “refresher” course for veterans during rookie orientation today, went out for the first time at 2:00 p.m.  His first session consisted of just six laps, but by lap three he posted a speed of 220 mph.  The talented Canadian, who is a fan favorite, ran a total of 26 laps (23 timed laps) and was consistently over 220 mph.  His fast lap came on the 21st of his timed laps.

“I am just excited to be back on track,” Tracy said. “The GEICO - KV Racing Technology team did a great job today.  The mechanics, the engineers, everyone on the team did great.  The first few laps were a little hair-raising, but the car was good, just like Jimmy Vasser said it would be, so I just had to keep my foot down.  I want to thank GEICO, Kevin Kalkhoven, my personal sponsor Monster and Firestone and Honda, who are all contributing to this program, as well as everyone who is involved on the team for making this an exciting day for me.”

Tracy will be contesting his sixth Indy 500 and just his third IndyCar event.  In five previous races at the IMS, he has a best qualifying effort of seventh in 1993.  His best finish is the runner-up performance in 2002 when track officials ruled that a pass by Tracy on Helio Castroneves during the closing laps of the race occurred after the yellow light came on thus nullifying what would have been a winning move.

4 pass Rookie Test
Four rookies passed the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program as preparations began at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 2009 Indianapolis 500. The track was open for six rookies to participate in ROP. Three veterans were allowed to complete "refresher" laps.

Nelson Philippe
Mike Conway, Robert Doornbos, Raphael Matos and Alex Tagliani completed all four phases of ROP, demonstrating consistent driving through four speed ranges beginning at 200 mph and increasing in 5 mph increments.

Rookie Nelson Philippe completed the first three phases of ROP, while Stanton Barrett completed two. An additional ROP session is scheduled for Wednesday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. before the track opens for all drivers.

Tuesday Results

Rank Car Driver Name Time Speed Diff Gap
1 15 Tracy, Paul 00:40.3426 223.089 --.---- --.----
2 16 Sharp, Scott 00:40.5628 221.878 0.2202 0.2202
3 06 Doornbos, Robert (R) 00:40.5889 221.735 0.2463 0.0261
4 2 Matos, Raphael (R) 00:41.1686 218.613 0.8260 0.5797
5 34 Tagliani, Alex 00:41.2215 218.333 0.8789 0.0529
6 24 Conway, Mike (R) 00:41.4626 217.063 1.1200 0.2411
7 00 Philippe, Nelson (R) 00:41.9022 214.786 1.5596 0.4396
8 99 Lloyd, Alex 00:42.2471 213.032 1.9045 0.3449
9 98 Barrett, Stanton (R) 00:43.3689 207.522 3.0263 1.1218


PAUL TRACY (No. 15 GEICO/KV Racing Technology): "We took advantage of today, with the refresher course. There's rain in the forecast the next couple days possibly - the weather can change here at any time, so I'm pretty happy with where we're at right now." (About fan reaction): "They either love me or hate me. I have a polarizing effect on people. But there was a lot of fan support today, a lot of well-wishes, a couple birds, but in general it was 98 percent to the good, so I was happy about that." (About motivation to come back): "I just want to race. It's all I've ever done. I've been racing since I was 6 years old, and I didn't want my career to just come to an abrupt stop after racing Indy cars for 16 or 17 years. When the merge happened, my team owner decided to stop, and when the music stopped, it kind of left me without any seats to sit in. It's been very frustrating thinking after all this time my career's just going to end like that. That's not the way I wanted it to end. I realize I'm not going to race another 10 years, but I'd like to run a couple more years. I feel I'm competitive. I feel I've got the drive. And hopefully something will open up. I know I'm not going to run forever, but I want to have a couple more years and have a shot at it and have something for my fans to remember."

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 US Air Force Luczo Dragon Racing): "Today was a great day. The car was very consistent. The team made many aerodynamic changes to the car, which gave us an idea of how the car would run in different situations. The Luczo Dragon team worked very hard, and I was able to build up my confidence a lot. This is very important to set the tone for the rest of the month. I am very positive about going into the second day of practice tomorrow."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 16 Tequila Patron Panther Racing): "It feels great. There was obviously a lot of anticipation and a lot of excitement surrounding the whole opportunity with Patron and Panther Racing. To get out here and finally start doing it today, it was great. It feels so good to be back. By lap one, it felt like I was back in the old shoe again. It really felt good."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "The first run was a bit daunting. It's a big place here and a lot of high speed. Once I did the first run, I came back to the garages and sat down and thought about it. I felt a lot more comfortable and relaxed in the second run, which is the way that you have to be in these cars, just relaxed and feel what's going on. Overall, I'm really happy with the runs we had today. We learned a lot with the car and made some good setup changes, so I think we are looking great for tomorrow."

ROBERT DOORNBOS (No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing): "I seem to learn fast on the ovals and the team is doing a good job, so I don't see a reason why we shouldn't be in the top 11 (on Pole Day)." (About IMS): "I think this place is great. I sleep at the track, I eat at the track, I drive at the track, do everything at the track. It's going to be an intense month. It's different that when I was here in Formula One in 2005 and 2006. You just fly in for the weekend and fly out. Just from this morning I began to feel some of the history of the track, and the speed down the straight - I just love it. It wasn't intimidating at all as long as you respect the track. If you get to thinking you can be the fastest on the first day, you'll find yourself in the wall. You respect the place, and you build up to it. We got some good speed today. There isn't a big oval feeling to the track. It's more like two long straightaways and four fast corners which are very much alike."

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