Pole Day news tidbits from Indy
- Scott Dixon didn't mind a long press conference, as it meant he was missing an "interesting" meeting back in the Ganassi garage. Not only did Dario Franchitti run out of fuel after 3 1/2 laps, but Scott's car ran out entering turn 4 of his last lap. Dixon postulated that engine warm-ups during the day might've accounted for the missing fuel. Certainly it cost Dixon the pole, and probably cost Franchitti a spot on the front row.
- One wonders at the faded glory of Andretti Autosports. Not too long ago the team consisted of Bryan Herta, Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon and were one of the "Big 3." Today, they face last-day qualification with 4 of their 5 team members, with their one-off car (driven by one-off driver John Andretti) being the only car qualified.
- Dan Wheldon noted that Herta's birthday is Monday, and the old Andretti gang might just have to help Bryan celebrate, maybe with a practical joke or two. Not that Dan would do it -- Bryan is now his boss. However, he might actually know about it before it happens.
- "I didn't think it would be quite that hard for 4 laps" commented rookie Charlie Kimball. He was bumped out early, and needs to qualify again tomorrow. John Andretti described Pole Day as "The worst day of your life." At least John has that day finished now.
- Alex Tagliani is the only Canadian to ever win the Pole for the Indy 500. Tagliani's last "Indy" pole came in a Champ Car race in Montreal in 2003. CART/Champ Car fans also note Newman-Hass's car sitting on the front row. Alex's wife now will allow his to buy a new coffee table.
- Ten of the top 24 qualifiers are "One-Off" efforts. Buddy Rice commented in a press conference that the fact that the cars have been the same for 8 years, combined the experience of many of the one-off drivers (Rice, Wheldon, etc) that makes this possible. No doubt that next year, when there are new cars, there won't be as many one-off efforts, and they probably won't be nearly as successful. Buddy also noted that he "Wasn't sitting at home watching ESPN" which no doubt comes as a disappointment to the ESPN crews assembled in the press room.
- Not to quibble about medical terms here... but Simona's burns are described as "really awful". Whether they are second-degree or third-degree, they still must be painful, especially when enclosed in driving gloves. The burns cover the backs of both hands, but mercifully don't involve the palms. For her to put a 2003 chassis -- built to Indy specs overnight -- into the show with her injuries make her an automatic Indy legend. She has aspirations of F1 racing, but should that not work out, Indy would be lucky to have her.
- Two point two seconds. That is the time differential between the pole run and the 24th-place run of Simona de Silvestro. Only 2.7 seconds separated the Pole run time from Ryan Briscoe's first full attempt, the slowest of the day. There were 17 bumps, and 6 failed attempts, certainly the most in recent memory for one day.
- Scott Speed is first up tomorrow when qualification starts at noon EDT. His team mate, Ho-Pin Tung, is not cleared to drive until next Saturday. No word -- including rumors -- about what will happen with that team tomorrow. There is no backup car for Ho-Pin, so unless the car can be repaired then Ho-Pin won't be in the race, even if someone else could qualify it. Tim Wohlford reporting from Indy
DAY 8 NOTEBOOK:
More than 250 Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars are appearing today and Sunday at IMS. This special two-day event, which will be highlighted by the ceremonial pace lap just after 6 p.m. today, will showcase the largest collection of vintage Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars ever assembled.
Quotes from owners of selected Pace Cars on display:
GREG WILSON (1969 Chevrolet Camaro Supersport Convertible Pace Car): "This particular car was used in the Festival parade. It's wonderful bringing this car out for the 100th anniversary. It's awesome. What better opportunity is there to bring a Pace Car to a Pace Car reunion at the '500?' It's going to be a great race and qualifying. You can't beat Indy. I've had this car for 11 years, and I've put 10,000 miles on it - so not a whole lot. I drove it here today."
DAVE HUBER (Gasport, N.Y., 2007 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car): "This car was a festival car. It was a pole sitter's car, Helio Castroneves' car. He's a three-time winner and winner of 'Dancing With the Stars.' That's what most of the women know him for. General Motors gives the cars to the drivers, and this was one he had for two or three months. He put 4,000 miles on it. We like being here. We both enjoy it. There's quite a collection of cars here."
CHUCK PRITCHETT (McCordsville, Ind., 2008 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car): "This is the sixth Pace Car that I have owned. It is special to me because I owned a 1978 Pace Car, and this is the one that was the Pace Car 30 years later, and it is the only signature (Emerson Fittipaldi) model. I have put 26,000 miles on this car; a lot of the miles are from trips to the University of Kentucky, where I teach at their dental school. This is a special occasion to be here with a Pace Car for the racetrack's Centennial celebration. I have attended every '500' since 1957. My most memorable race was in 1967. I had just graduated from dental school and sat in Grandstand C. That was the year that the turbine (Parnelli Jones) quit, and A.J. Foyt had to wind his way through race cars on the frontstretch that had crashed so he could win his third '500.'"
Fifteen-time Indianapolis 500 starter Roberto Guerrero is working with Conquest Racing's Sebastian Saavedra this month as a driver coach. Guerrero finished runner up twice at the famed 2.5-mile oval, had five top-five finishes and held the qualifying speed record from 1992-96.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: "It's an honor to have Roberto here. His experience at Indy really gives us a different view of what we can do and what can we improve. He's a team player and brings such a positive energy. He has so many Indy 500 starts that the 100th anniversary is big for him, as well, getting together with other pole sitters. I'm very happy to have him around this month."
The new trackside Public Address stand was dedicated in the memory of legendary IMS Public Address Announcer Tom Carnegie, who died Feb. 11 at 91. Carnegie was the voice of the track from 1946-2006, announcing 61 consecutive Indianapolis 500-Mile Races.
A plaque is affixed to the stand featuring many of Carnegie's famous sayings and the inscription, "In Loving Memory of Tom Carnegie, 1919-2011."
Carnegie's son Bob Kenagy was the honorary starter today on "Tom Carnegie Day," honoring his father, who was born Carl Kenagy before using the name Tom Carnegie when working in radio in the early 1940s.
BOB KENAGY: "It's truly a special day for our family. This has always been a special place for Dad. He loved this place, and I know he's watching. Mom is doing very well, and I know she was watching."
INDIANAPOLIS 500 POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:
•This is the first Indianapolis 500 pole for Alex Tagliani. His previous best start was fifth in 2010, with the FAZZT Race Team.
•Alex Tagliani is the first Canadian-born driver to win the Indianapolis 500 pole. The previous best starting spot for a Canadian driver was third, by Scott Goodyear in 1995. Tagliani is a native of Lachenaie, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal.
•This is the sixth career Indy car pole for Alex Tagliani. His last pole came in 2003 at Montreal, while competing in Champ Car.
•This is the second Indy car pole for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. The team's other pole came in 2001 at Richmond, Va., with Jaques Lazier driving.
•This is the first time since 2005 that three different teams occupy the front row for the Indianapolis 500, with Sam Schmidt Motorsports (Alex Tagliani, pole), Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon, second) and Newman/Haas Racing (Oriol Servia, third). In 2005, the front row was comprised of Andretti Green Racing (Tony Kanaan, pole), Marlboro Team Penske (Sam Hornish Jr., second) and Delphi Fernandez Racing (Scott Sharp, third).
•Scott Dixon earned his second career front-row start for the Indianapolis 500. He won from the pole in 2008.
•This is the fourth consecutive year that a Target Chip Ganassi Racing car will start the Indianapolis 500 on the front row.
•Oriol Servia is starting third, his career best in the Indianapolis 500. His previous best was 25th, in 2008 and 2009, his only two prior starts.
•Newman/Haas Racing qualified a car on the front row of the Indianapolis 500 for the first time since 1993, when Mario Andretti started second.
•This is the first Indianapolis 500 since 2004 that a Team Penske car is not starting on the front row. Helio Castroneves started eighth and Sam Hornish Jr. 11th that year.
•Helio Castroneves is starting a career-low 16th in the Indianapolis 500. His previous low was 13th in 2002, when he earned his second victory. This will be Castroneves' 11th Indianapolis 500 start.
•Townsend Bell is starting fourth, his career best in the Indianapolis 500. His previous best was 10th in 2010.
•Buddy Rice qualified seventh, his best Indianapolis 500 starting spot since he won the race from the pole in 2004.
•Ed Carpenter is starting eighth, tying his Indianapolis 500 career best set in 2010.
•Dario Franchitti is starting ninth, his lowest Indianapolis 500 starting position since 2006, when he qualified 17th. Franchitti started third in each of the last three years he has participated in the Indianapolis 500, in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
•Takuma Sato qualified 10th, an Indianapolis 500 career best. His previous best was 31st in 2010, his only previous start.
•JR Hildebrand is the highest-qualifying rookie, in 12th. It's the best starting position by a rookie since 2009, when Raphael Matos also qualified 12th.