Sarah Fisher is quick to give praise to her drivers – both Josef Newgarden (who is on injured reserve this weekend) and fill-in driver Bruno Junqueira. Sarah reminded us that, not only had Bruno not been in an Indy car for a while, he’d never been in this version of Indy car – ever. In fact, it’s been several years since he’s been in a single seater. Bruno qualified 10th, but will start 20th due to an engine penalty not of his doing. As for Josef – he’s been a pleasant surprise. “He surprised us a lot." The team believes he’s got all the tools to be great, and unlike other talented drivers in their rookie season, he has avoided tearing up a lot of equipment. BTW, the team's nickname for Newgarden is "Noogie." Honest. Not "Joey" but "Noogie."
AutoRacing1 did some eavesdropping as Sam Schmidt talked to the "Day at the Races" crowd outside of his hauler. The event is designed to bring wheel-chair bound fans, plus a helper, to the races to enjoy the sights and sounds. IndyCar has long known that Sam is one of the best known quadriplegics in the world, and has supported this effort for several years now. Sam commented to AutoRacing1 — "Yeah, it sucks to be in a chair, but you can make your dreams come true if you put your mind to it."
With the announcement that Chase Austin would be running the Indy 500, AJ Fort Racing continues to make waves. Not only did Mike Conway qualify second for tomorrow's race (he will have to start 12th due to a motor penalty), it now looks like Foyt will be running three cars at Indy. AutoRacing1 caught up with Larry Foyt, who also confirmed that they are trying to get a development driver program going as well. Not only do they want to develop drivers, but they'd love to develop some quality IndyCar mechanics — which is something that has been a concern for years. Conway is working hard to be back next year with Foyt.
How hard is a bumpy course on the human body? Yesterday, Justin Wilson was quoted that one of the bumps he took was on par with the one that injured him last year at Mid Ohio. We caught up with Justin, who was in a great mood prior to qualifying (no doubt his accident during qualification dampened his mood some). Justin said that the bump yesterday wasn't quite as bad today, and with the changes made yesterday, that bump isn't even felt. However, he did recall (foggily) the day after a Champ Car race in San Jose, where the course was so bumpy that he and AJ Allmendinger were "punch drunk" the next day — "We were, like, what should we be doing now? Oh that's right, we need to get on the airplane." Justin said that after the big shot yesterday, literally his mind wouldn't let his foot stay on the gas through that section of track.
Sebastien Bourdais is still hurting from his accident in Sonoma. "I wish I wasn't bouncing so much. It Would hurt less," said Bourdais. It's a tough break. I'm physically pretty hurt right now, pointing to his whole left side. I don't know how it's going to play out for tomorrow."
Sadly — the crowd is down considerably from last year. While luxury sales appear to be up, grandstands are nearly empty. No doubt that part of that is due to the early morning rain, and part because the race wasn't even happening at one point. And with 60% chance of rain in the forecast for Sunday, the walkup crowd is sure to be impacted, meaning this race could be a financial bloodbath again.
We hear drivers would like to see the entire front straight (Pratt Street) repaved with asphalt and the chicane eliminated.
Quote of the day: "Dallara should sponsor that wall." — Dario Franchitti referring to the wall after the chicane that so many drivers have hit and the money Dallara will make due to their high replacement parts prices.
09/01/12 Continuing with yesterday's Silly Season rumors from Baltimore, we added more fodder and made it into table format for you. We will update this as we hear more.
|A.J. Foyt Racing||Mike Conway and maybe AJ Allmendinger but his license is suspended for substance abuse. Chase Austin (Indy only)||Honda||2nd car possible, AJ Allmendinger mentioned if he wants to return to IndyCar after his license is reinstated. 3rd car at Indy 500 to be driven by African American Chase Austin|
|Andretti Autosport||Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti.||Chevy||No change anticipated|
|Barracuda Racing||Alex Tagliani||Honda||No change anticipated|
|Dale Coyne Racing||Justin Wilson and James Jakes.||Honda||No change expected|
|Dragon Racing||Sebastien Bourdais and maybe Katherine Legge.||Chevy||Depends on Jay Penske getting two Chevrolets.|
|Dreyer & Reinbold||Oriol Servia||Chevy||No change expected|
|Ed Carpenter Racing||Ed Carpenter and maybe a second car.||Chevy||2nd car depends on sponsorship|
|Ganassi Racing||Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball, Ryan Briscoe or Rubens Barrichello.||Honda||If Penske does not run 3rd car Briscoe could end up here, as could Barrichello|
|HVM Racing||Simona De Silvestro, maybe Takuma Sato.||Honda||Sato could be 2nd driver. Likely trading Lotus for Honda.|
|KV Racing Technology||Tony Kanaan, TBD, TBD.||Chevy||With Barrichello expected to leave and EJ Viso looking to start his own team (rumored) this team will need to add 1 or 2 new drivers|
|MSR Indy||AJ Allmendinger.||Honda||Wanted to race this year but could not get an engine. Since Allmendinger owns part of this team, it could be an option for him to drive|
|Panther Racing||JR Hildebrand.||Chevy||Barrichello likes this Chevrolet team, but it feels like he’s headed back to Honda.|
|Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Graham Rahal and maybe Takuma Sato or Rubens Barrichello.||Honda||Son Graham rumored headed to Dad’s team. Will Sato say or Barrichello consider them|
|Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing||Josef Newgarden.||Honda||No change expected|
|Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports||Simon Pagenaud and TBD||Honda||Rob Edwards run team hoping to add a 2nd car|
|Team Penske||Will Power and Helio Castroneves. Maybe Briscoe||Chevy||Penske told AR1.com he wants to stay with three cars if sponsor found|
Mark C. and Tim Wohlford reporting from Baltimore.