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Pitstop competition part of busy Friday at Indy
Ten of the top pit crews in the Indianapolis 500 will participate in the 32nd Indianapolis 500 Pit Stop Challenge on Miller Lite Carb Day, Friday, May 22 with $40,000 of the $90,000 overall purse awarded to the winner.

The competition will get underway at 1:30 p.m. on Miller Lite Carb Day with four rounds of action.

The 2008 Pit Stop Challenge was canceled due to rain. But the No. 3 Team Penske crew of 2009 Indianapolis 500 pole winner Helio Castroneves is the leading contender entering the 2009 event, as it has won the popular competition in 2006 and 2007. Penske has won this competition a record 10 times, including the last three years the event was held. The No. 6 Penske crew won in 2005.

But Castroneves’ crew will face tough competition from the Penske Racing crew of teammate Ryan Briscoe and also from IndyCar Series standouts Andretti Green Racing, Luczo Dragon Racing, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, Vision Racing and Target Chip Ganassi Racing. During every pit stop in the competition, crews must change all four tires while making a simulated fuel hose connection to the car. The fastest crews will advance.

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.

The crews of Raphael Matos and Graham Rahal qualified for the Indianapolis 500 Pit Stop Challenge during the time trials May 14. The crews of Ryan Hunter-Reay and Danica Patrick qualified for the event through their position in the Entrant Point Standings entering the Indianapolis 500. The remaining six entrants qualified for the Pit Stop Challenge through their performance in IndyCar Series races following the 2008 Indianapolis 500.

Briscoe and Rahal were randomly selected in a chief mechanics’ meeting May 21 to bypass the qualification round and start in the quarterfinals.

The 2009 Indianapolis 500 Pit Stop Competition brackets:

No. 26 Marco Andretti (Andretti Green) vs. No. 10 Dario Franchitti (Target Chip Ganassi) No. 11 Tony Kanaan (Andretti Green) vs. No. 7 Danica Patrick (Andretti Green) No. 3 Helio Castroneves (Penske) vs. No. 2 Raphael Matos (Luczo Dragon) No. 21 Ryan Hunter-Reay (Vision) vs. No. 9 Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi)

No. 6 Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske) vs. third-fastest crew from qualifications round No. 02 Graham Rahal (Newman/Haas/Lanigan) vs. fourth-fastest crew from qualifications round

Briscoe (Team Penske) or third-fastest crew winner vs. fastest crew from qualifications round Rahal (Newman/Haas/Lanigan) or fourth-fastest crew winner vs. second-fastest crew from qualifications round

The Pit Stop Challenge is one of four exciting events taking place at IMS on Miller Lite Carb Day, and admission is just $10, with children 5 and under free.

Final practice for the 33-car Indianapolis 500 starting field is 11 a.m.-noon, followed by the 40-lap Firestone Freedom 100 race for the Firestone Indy Lights series at 12:30 p.m. The Pit Stop Challenge gets underway at 1:30 p.m., and international rock superstars 3 Doors Down will headline the Miller Lite Carb Day Concert at 3:30 p.m. Public gates are open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
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