Indy Day 2 practice notebook Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe talked Saturday about the condensed schedule and Team Penske's chances in the 2010 Indianapolis 500.
RYAN BRISCOE: (About schedule): "It's about the same amount of running time. I think we're about six or eight hours shorter than we've had in the past. Track time is about the same, but it's a bit busier and a little more intense. There is a little more strategy involved with getting qualifying and race setup all in one week. Now we squeeze it in to one week and almost do a reverse. We'll get ready for the race first and then later in the week we'll really focus on qualifying and get ready for Pole Day next Saturday. I really like the fact that all of the drivers are out here on Opening Day. It's exciting for the fans that the first cars to hit the track are guys like Helio, Franchitti, Dixon and others who have won the race before. I think it is more incentive for the fans to come out and see the pros." (On running well in last year's Indy 500): "Last year was really good for me, but I was a bit unlucky in the race and we fell back. We had to make an extra stop early in the race. So, it was a bit unlucky, but I feel really good. The team, obviously, is the class of the field here at Indianapolis. It's going to be tough. I'm sure Ganassi is going to be strong, as well. We're going to be right there. Hopefully, we'll get it right on Race Day."
Justin Penix, winner of the 2010 Purdue Grand Prix kart race, was the honorary starter today. Penix, from Indianapolis, is a junior at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) majoring in mechanical engineering technology.
JUSTIN PENIX: "It's an amazing feeling. I never thought I'd be able to do this. It will be interesting to see what it's like when the cars go by at over 200 mph." (On winning the Purdue University Grand Prix with his team from IUPUI): "I'm fortunate enough to be the president of the Motorsports Club at IUPUI. The club is for students to get involved and to get more hands-on experience with racing. We fielded two cars in the Purdue Grand Prix, and it was a lot of fun for everyone to get involved and get their hands dirty. We've ran the race for over 10 years now. We won it in 2008 and this year." (On working with Sarah Fisher Racing and having a brother employed at the IRL): "I'm helping Sarah Fisher throughout this month and the summer, as well. I'll be on Jay Howard's car. I'll be doing whatever they need. Hopefully I'll get some engineering work because that's what I want to do after I graduate. I want to be involved with a race team. And it always helps to have a brother involved here at the track and to help you out along the way."
Seven drivers must complete the Rookie Orientation: #5 Takuma Sato (KV Racing Technology), #25 Ana Beatriz (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing), #29 Sebastian Saavedra (Bryan Herta Autosport), #34 Mario Romancini (Conquest Racing), #36 Bertrand Baguette (Conquest Racing), #66 Jay Howard (Sarah Fisher Racing), #78 Simona de Silvestro (HVM Racing).
The rookie drivers must complete four phases of ROP in order to be eligible for the Indianapolis 500. At least three of the phases must be completed during ROP today. The fourth phase may be completed during practice later in the month.
The four phases of ROP include 10 laps at each of the following speeds:
On Indianapolis Star Opening Day, #25 Beatriz, #78 De Silvestro and #5 Sato completed the first two phases of ROP. #29 Saavedra completed the first phase.
Popular veteran Sarah Fisher will attempt to make her ninth Indianapolis 500 start this year, driving the No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing entry. Her car has a unique story behind it.
SARAH FISHER: "I've nicknamed my car Old Faithful. It's an '03 car that I raced here in'08 and '09. She's a solid car; it's dependable and repeatable. We don't have a nickname for Jay Howard's car (No. 67) yet. He has one of two '09 Dallaras." (About her role as an owner-driver): "It's a different role for me to have another driver with us here on the plate. It really helped us, being able to race at Kansas before we came here. We have spent a lot of time getting our race cars ready for the oval. I'm glad I'm sitting here so I can see our car on the track on the large screen (behind the Pagoda). I'm definitely keeping a balance as a car owner and driver. I'm 100 percent involved in his car as an owner and as a driver in my car. This is a team effort."
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing co-owner Dennis Reinbold talked today about being one of the senior team owners in Gasoline Alley at the 2010 Indianapolis 500 and in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Dreyer & Reinbold started racing in the series in 2000. Indianapolis 500 veteran Robbie Buhl is the team's other owner.
The team's full-time drivers, Justin Wilson and Mike Conway, are joined by Indy-only drivers Tomas Scheckter and Ana Beatriz this month.
DENNIS REINBOLD: "A.J. (Foyt) has been around a lot longer than we have and so has Panther Racing. I think we're third on the list. You survive just based on being creative to provide enough funding to get by. For us for many years, it was a matter of survival. We've always wanted to position ourselves to get to the point where our focus is solely on winning. I'm not excited about second place, and we're inching closer to victory lane. We're there right now (because) we have the best driver lineup we've ever had. We've got some of the best people we've ever had. All through our organization, we've stepped it up at every level that we can control. It's not ideal to come here with four drivers, but each of our four are here for a very good reason because we want to develop them for drivers in our future and develop our team for growth. It's a conscious effort, and we're always excited to be here at Indy."
Longtime Indianapolis Motor Speedway Public Address announcer Tom Carnegie visited the track Saturday and today. Carnegie, 90, was the lead PA announcer at the track from 1946-2006.
TOM CARNEGIE: "It's great to be here. It is typically cold, half-raining, but I love it and I'll stay out here as long as they'll let me. I have sat through many cold, rainy days throughout the years, many, many, but that's just part of it. And when you have the chance to pause and sit in the rain, your mind goes back to days out here, and it is just a thrill to be here." (About his time at the track this weekend): "I have seen many old friends, many, many, and as long as I don't have difficulty remembering who they are, I'm in pretty good shape, and so far I'm doing fairly well." (How often will you visit this month?): "I will pick good weather, but I would come out here every day if I can. And who knows? Maybe I will."
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk is helping driver Mike Conway with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing during the IZOD IndyCar Series season, including this month. Luyendyk also talked today about the new qualifying format and other Indianapolis 500 topics.
ARIE LUYENDYK: "This year I'm helping the Dreyer & Reinbold race team. I'll be working with their driver, Mike Conway. I'll be with them on all of the oval races this year. I'll be coaching him, giving him a bunch of pointers, and trying to help him get around the racetrack fast and safe. Most of the things we work on deal with car setup. Things like trying to guide them and keep the setup going in the right direction so that the driver doesn't get all messed up in his head." (On preparing for the Indianapolis 500): "A lot of the Indy 500 is a big mental game. You don't want to get the driver discouraged or make him lose confidence. You really want him to be confident with his race car and the setup. Once he feels comfortable, he can go really fast." (On the qualifying format): "I think it's a great format. I've always believed in shortening the month, which they have now done. Having 24 cars the first day and then having the shootout for the pole is really great for the fans. I hope they come out and watch and prove the new formula to be right. From a driver's perspective, I don't think it's great to be forced to have to go out so many times to actually get the pole. I like the old way better. You get it done in three tries, or you're out. But things are changing everywhere and in our sport. It will be an exciting shootout for the pole because you're chasing the track conditions all day long. When the track changes, you have to change your car to get that little extra speed out of it. So these guys that qualify in the top nine have their work cut out for them."
FAAZT Race Team General Manager talked today about the health of driver Alex Tagliani, who is suffering from bronchitis, and the status of the team's second entry, for driver Bruno Junqueira.
ROB EDWARDS: (On the health of Alex Tagliani): "Alex is doing better. Every day that goes by, he's getting better and better. We hadn't planned to run yesterday. We hope to get out there today to get the car shaken down. Then the rest of the week, we should be in good shape with Alex's program." (Can you provide an update on team's second entry with Bruno Junqueira?): "Not really at the moment. Bruno is racing in Brazil this weekend. The plan wasn't for him to be here until Monday or Tuesday, anyway. We had the car prepped. It made sense to get the car here. We're hoping we can run him, but we still don't know at the moment." (Could you guess on what percentage chance you have at running him?): "I'm not a gambling man. We'll see how it plays out."
Firestone Indy Lights driver Martin Plowman gave some lucky fans the thrill of turning laps around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's famed 2.5-mile oval this morning. Plowman and fellow Firestone Indy Lights drivers Stefan Wilson, Charlie Kimball and James Hinchcliffe are members of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series Pace Car Team, which gives hot lap rides on race weekends.
MARTIN PLOWMAN: "I got the fortunate job to drive at the Speedway every single day this month, getting the chance to scare the bejeezus out of paying VIPs and sponsors." (About moving to Andretti Autosport this season): "Obviously, driving for Andretti Autosport, a two-time defending champion team, the pressure is on for me to make that three years in a row. But it's nice to know I've got a fantastic group of individuals around me. I don't have to worry about anything when I'm in the car. Everything from the small things like drink bottles in the cars to the big stuff; I just have to focus on my job and not worry about anything else. Our test here went very well. In the morning, we ran very well in traffic, and in the afternoon, we focused solely on qualifying speed and running by ourselves. That's why on the time sheet we're languishing down in 10th place, but we know that we didn't run fully in traffic. We're happy where we are and think we have a good chance at the win." (About returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): "It feels great. I've been to this track maybe a thousand times, even though it's just my second year racing. But walking down pit lane in a fire suit toward my car - the grandstands surround you - it's just overwhelming. I get goose bumps. That's when the emotion starts to kick in, and I realize I'm going to drive at the most famous racetrack in the world."
Miss Indiana 2009 Nicole Pollard was at the track today with her boyfriend, Firestone Indy Lights driver Martin Plowman. Pollard, from Lafayette, Ind. was a 2009 500 Festival Princess. The couple met at the IZOD IndyCar Series race last summer at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
NICOLE POLLARD: "I was a 500 Festival Princess last year, and that really exposed me to the world of motorsports. I fell in love with it here, and the passion continued as I went on to other races. This year I'm helping Martin with some PR and marketing, just making sure he gets out and sees the fans. Motorsports PR is definitely something I've been interested in. With the love of motorsports and all of the media training I've gotten as Miss Indiana, it just seems like a natural progression to put them together. I'm also teaching full time at Northridge Middle School as the choir director, so it really keeps me on my toes."
The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation conducted "A Day at the Races" today for guests with disabling injuries. Indianapolis 500 and Firestone Indy Lights team owner Sam Schmidt, Indianapolis 500 driver Townsend Bell and Firestone Indy Lights drivers Philip Major, J.K. Vernay and Pippa Mann had lunch and talked with the guests.
SAM SCHMIDT: "This is our Day at the Races program with support of UMP, Honda and Firestone and great folks like that. We have now been expanded to nine markets this year, and frankly it is all about getting people out of the hospital. We work with a combination of groups. Here it is RHI (Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana), PVA (Paralyzed Veterans of America) , Wounded Warriors, those types of organizations in each market, and we bring people out to the track to try to encourage them that no matter what their disability to keep pursing their dream. We have Miss Wheelchair Indiana; it's all good stuff. It's about making it anything that makes it worthwhile to get up every morning, whether it is to find a job or get into athletic programs and just flat out pursue your passion. That's what we are trying to promote here. The bottom line is that if someone isn't on a vent (ventilator), they aren't any worse off than me, and they just need to figure out what they can do and get out and do it instead of sitting at home and doing nothing. It's soul-searching for everybody. This type of disability turns everyone's life upside-down. Not just the person in the chair, it's their family, their friends, it's everybody around them. To get over that, you need to find something that makes you want to get up in the morning. For me, it's racing. For some, it is being Olympic athletes, too. John Martinson, next to me, he loved to hunt before he was paralyzed and he started a hunting program for people with disabilities up in Wisconsin. He takes 20 to 25 people at a time out into the wilderness, and they shoot deer and all kinds of things. So that's what it's all about. It doesn't have to be racing. It doesn't have to be what I do. It's about what you can do. I have to applaud the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and all of the other tracks we go to for giving us the parking passes and tickets for days like today, because it is not only a good thing to do but also highlights the accessible nature of the track and facilities so people know they can come back with their families, and that is part of the component, as well."
JOEY MURELLO (Noblesville, Ind., 2010 Miss Wheelchair Indiana): "I have recently been crowned Miss Wheelchair Indiana, and in August I will be travelling to Grand Rapids, Mich., for the National pageant, hopefully to be crowned Miss Wheelchair National. The competition is public speaking and interview. The emphasis of the pageant is to help build a bridge between the disabled community and the able-bodied community and help people to understand that there really isn't difference between a wheelchair. So far, it has been a fun day for us."
JOHN MARTINSON: "My first event was at Chicagoland, and I was just overwhelmed by how nice everybody was, and I kept in touch with Sam Schmidt by e-mail. This event was about five and a half hours away from me, so I thought I would come down and say hi to everybody again. It's all about the people and the great organization that are doing research for spinal cord injuries. I am just really active in getting people out and doing outdoor activities. We have an organization in Wisconsin called Adaptive Sportsman, Inc. that is a non-profit organization. It helps people with disabilities get out and do outdoor activities - hunting, fishing, ATV riding, kayaking, and going to races. Basically, it is anything to motivate people to see somebody else doing it in their situation, and they feel capable to do it themselves. This event is excellent. It gets you to do something besides sitting at home looking at four walls, that's for sure. You get to meet a lot of great people, and that is what it is all about."
TOWNSEND BELL: "Sam has a great foundation, and I'm just happy to do everything I can to try and support everything he does. It is just nice to come out and see everybody. I try to do what I can to support the program."
Indianapolis 500 veteran E.J. Viso took a few moments today to talk about returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to attempt to make his third start in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
E.J. VISO: (Where is your unicycle?): "I did not bring the unicycle because it isn't the Month of May anymore. It is just the half-month, and I knew I was not going to have enough time to play around. Hopefully next year if they go back to the normal format, I will bring it. Last year we had plenty of days off, and this year we have very little, and I prefer to spend that time with the team." (About the old schedule format versus the new schedule format): "There are some points in the month where you really just want to race and that's it, but in another way, it is nice, the whole month of May, the history, the Indy 500, the full format. But either way, it is the Indy 500, and I'm glad to be here. It's the Indy 500." (Is the event easier since you're a veteran?): "Ahhh, I think you never say it is easier. At least the more you come to this place, you know and expect what is coming. Maybe in my rookie year (2008) I might have attacked too early in the month. Now that I am a little more experienced, I know it doesn't matter the first week as long as you prove have a comfortable car and you are working toward the race."
A total of 44 cars are currently at the Speedway and 36 have passed technical inspection and two are in the process. Thirty-six drivers have been on the track to date and turned 1,375 laps today and 1,972 laps this month. Mario Romancini turned 117 laps today, more than any other driver. There were 10 cautions for a total of one hour, 28 minutes today.