Indy 500: Series day five report

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DIXON TOPS TIMESHEETS AGAIN AT INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, May 19, 2010) - Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon topped the speed chart for the second consecutive day as preparations for the 2010 Indianapolis 500 ...

DIXON TOPS TIMESHEETS AGAIN AT INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE

INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, May 19, 2010) - Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon topped the speed chart for the second consecutive day as preparations for the 2010 Indianapolis 500 continued at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Dixon recorded a lap at 39.6526 seconds (226.971 mph), slightly faster than Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe (39.7118 seconds; 226.633 mph). Twenty-five drivers were within .5968 of a second of the pacesetter, and seven different teams and seven different countries were represented in the top 10.

Alex Tagliani recorded the third-quickest lap on the 2.5-mile oval (226.002) in the No. 77 FAZZT Race Team car as 35 drivers posted 2,282 laps (Tony Kanaan led the way with 134) in a full six-hour session without incident. E.J. Viso, whose No. 8 PDVSA KV Racing Technology car made contact with the Turn 1 SAFER Barrier on May 18, was cleared to drive but he didn't make it onto the track in his backup car.

Hideki Mutoh, driving the No. 06 Panasonic Newman/Haas Racing car, jumped to fourth (225.926 mph), and Dario Franchitti in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car (225.850) was fifth on his 37th birthday.

The two-stage Pole Day qualifications are scheduled for May 22. Twenty-four positions will be set, with the remaining nine filled in the next day. The new format includes cars making four-lap qualifying attempts from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. At 4:30, the top nine cars by their four-lap cumulative time will return to run for the PEAK Performance Pole Award presented by AutoZone and fill the front three rows.

DAY 5 NOTEBOOK:

Medical report from Dr. Geoffrey Billows, Indianapolis Motor Speedway director of medical services: #8 E.J. Viso was released Tuesday night from Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after X-rays were negative. Viso has not been cleared to drive and will be re-evaluated today at the Clarian Emergency Medical Center.

Viso crashed in Turn 1 at 5:50 p.m. (ET) Tuesday.

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E.J. Viso will be available for interviews at 1:30 p.m. (ET) today at the KV Racing Technology garage, B-30 in Gasoline Alley.

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2005 Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon will sign copies of his new book, "Lionheart," from 10:30-10:50 a.m. Sunday, May 23 at the Shop 13 Pagoda Plaza Retail Shop at IMS.

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Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe wanted to "do something special" for fans in conjunction with the re-launch of his website. So Briscoe and his wife, Nicole, formulated the plan of a contest via his Twitter account with the grand prize being an all-expense-paid VIP package for two to the Indianapolis 500.

Fans can tweet their prediction of his qualifying speed to the thousandth of a second along with his starting position during Pole Day on May 22 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway through www.twitter.com/RyanBriscoe6 on Twitter.

The prize package includes travel and accommodations for five days and four nights, tickets to the race, tickets to Miller Lite Carb Day on Friday, May 28, garage and pit passes, and official gear of Ryan Briscoe Racing. Briscoe is funding the prize package.

Visit www.ryanbriscoe.com for complete rules and regulations. Deadline is 11:59 p.m. (ET) Friday, May 21.

RYAN BRISCOE: "I wanted to have a unique package that would be special to fans. We're kicking off the launching of the website with a bang. I want to continue this throughout the season with contests for maybe guess my laps led in a race and the position I finish in a race."

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Medical report from Dr. Geoffrey Billows, Indianapolis Motor Speedway director of medical services: #8 E.J. Viso has been cleared to drive after evaluation in the Clarian Emergency Medical Center.

***

IZOD IndyCar Series driver Vitor Meira will rev up his athletic engine for a different type of race this year as he takes on the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3, Presented by Ford, on Nov.13 in Clearwater, Fla. Meira will join approximately 1,800 other top athletes, ranging in age from 18 to 80-plus.

The Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3, in its fifth year, consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike and a 13.1-mile run.

Meira's interest in the sport of triathlon began back in 2001 when he competed in his first race in his native Brazil. Since then, he has participated in more than a dozen races at varying distances, including the Ironman 70.3 Pucon event earlier this year. In addition to his triathlon resume, Meira has competed in multiple half-marathon events and the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis.

VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co. A.J. Foyt Racing): "This was actually on my bucket list. It really was. I'm really honored to accept this invitation to participate in the World Championship 70.3; it's a very special honor. I've been in sports for a very long time, and the city I grew up in had two very famous athletes, and that's how I got the buzz. Not only was it part of what I do for racing, the running, biking, and all the preparation for the racing, but I also always liked it. So, I'm not kidding, this really was on my bucket list. I'm honestly thrilled."

(On what the event means to him): "For me, you are there for yourself and not because you're going to beat one, two, or three other guys. You want to prove what you are capable of to yourself; like how far you can push yourself. That's why I'm doing it. I'm going for a time around 4.5 hours."

(On how this affects racing): "I want to make this clear that this doesn't take away from the racing. This adds to the racing. It's a great hobby, and it's something that while I'm doing it, I can learn about myself and I can use that in the race."

(On coming back after his injury last season): "It was one of those things that give you a lot of time to step back and do things slowly. Since I wasn't going to be in the race car, I didn't have to be in all the places that you normally have to be while driving. I had a lot of time at home training and trying to get healthy the right way. A lot of times you don't have the time to do it right, and I was able to take it step by step. When you get hurt, you want to come back even harder, and that's what I was trying to do."

(On his rehabilitation): "After a month, I had to walk for an hour. Just walk. That's all. I could go to the gym, but I couldn't put any weight on my spine, so things that I was doing were pulling instead of pushing. The second part of it was swimming. Obviously, I couldn't swim freestyle like you normally would but I was spending a lot of time in the pool."

(On finishing second at Indy and trying to win): "I want to see when I can win. Finishing second a couple times with a couple different teams and cars, if anything it proved that if everything works like it's supposed to, then I could do it. I think that with A.J. Foyt Racing and ABC, we're setting ourselves up for that this year. I mean, I've got a little catching up to do, but this is the best position in the points that the team has been in a long time. We're going to keep working hard on our race setup so that we can get from second to first, which is the biggest step of all."

(On his recovery and A.J. Foyt's recovery in 1990): "I was lucky enough to not have any hardware put into my back, which delays the process. I did fracture vertebrae, but they weren't out of alignment. It was easier (than Foyt's rehabilitation in 1990). That's what is great about having A.J with the team. He understands things not only in the mind of a team owner but also from a driver's perspective. That's great to have on our side."

(On Foyt handling Meira's participation in triathlons): "He is OK with it as long as it doesn't take away from the racing. He knows that it adds to the racing, so he is all for it. He doesn't care if I jump off a tree or whatever, as long as it adds to performance."

(On what he does well in triathlons); "Swimming is where I need to improve. I have a lot of time to gain in running, but as far as percentage-wise, I need to do better in swimming. I'm pretty good with the biking."

***

Maybe the smirks on the face of crew members were a giveaway, but 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti nevertheless was surprised when a bagpiper began playing in front of the Target Chip Ganassi Racing garage today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and his wife, Ashley Judd, presented him with a large cake to celebrate his 37th birthday.

The cake featured an icing image of Franchitti and his brother, Marino, in their youth.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: "I kind of thought there would be something with a cake, but I was expecting Tony (Kanaan) to be carrying it and I'd be wiping it off my face instead of cutting it. I have my guard up."

(About hearing a bagpipe, which reminded him of his native Scotland): "I heard a piper, and I thought, 'Oh, what's happening here?' And, sure enough, he arrives in front of the garage. It was brilliant. It's funny to have a birthday during the month because you screw around a little bit, but then it's straight back to work. Tonight I'll have a couple of hours to relax with Ashley and then get back to the grind of the month."

***

1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. talked about his role as an analyst during the ABC telecast of the 2010 Indianapolis 500.

EDDIE CHEEVER JR.: "I enjoy it. It is interesting. You have to be a lot more up on what everybody else is doing than if you are driving. When you're driving, you just look at the times and how the teams are running, but here you have to get all the stories and what's happening. Sitting and staring at a TV and having to say something instructive for 3½ hours is a big effort.

(About this sub-par weather so far this week): "It is the same for everybody, so the only consolation you have is that if you are suffering, hopefully the other guy is suffering even more. I think the wind in the past was more of an issue because in the past because there were so many different car configurations and setups you could run, but they have been using these same cars for so long that they have a very fine window where they can get into or out of trouble very quickly just through changes in the car. But the wind can be hell when you start taking rear wing out of the car, lifting it, and taking downforce out sometimes so you are right on the ragged edge. The difference between the drivers and teams that can set up the car to have very little drag in is what will make the big speeds."

(About his racing in 2010): "I will be doing some long-distance racing again this year. I don't know if I ever want to do this (Indianapolis 500) again."

(Would you consider it?): "Oh, yeah. I consider lots of things. I consider dating 18-year-olds, too, but I don't."

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E.J. Viso talked about his crash May 18 in an impromptu press conference in the KV Racing Technology garage today.

E.J. VISO: "Well, it was pretty late in the day, and I think it was a lot of factors put together. The track was a lot cooler, and we were also running light on rubber and coming through Turn 1. I just lost the rear, and that's all I remember. I need to thank everybody at the IMS Medical Center. They gave me some big support, and they were very efficient through the whole situation."

(On being cleared to drive and getting back on track): "I'm completely clear, and we're planning to be on track this evening. We're going to put some laps in the backup car, and hopefully everything will be good for qualifying this weekend."

(On the state of the car): "We're focusing on the backup car. I think we're going to run the backup at least for this month. Everybody on the crew is trying to get the car ready in a couple of hours so that we can get back on track."

(On back pain and how he's feeling now): "As soon as I hit the wall, I had huge back pain. They took me to the hospital, and they did all sorts of scans and x-rays, and luckily everything was in place. So here I am. Ready to go. I'm a little bit sore but, you know, it's part of the job."

(On how the effects of the accident): "You think about what happened, and as soon as you know the reason, you learn from it. You just try to take (accident) out of your mind as soon as possible and be on track. It's a long month, and you don't want something like this to affect you or your team."

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Indianapolis 500 veteran E.J. Viso has changed the paint schemes on his racing helmets before every IZOD IndyCar Series race in 2010. He spoke about the rotating helmets today.

E.J. VISO: "The helmet I'm wearing this month is a Herbalife helmet, and we've been going through the helmets that I've used so far this year. I have one different design per race, and I do them together with my cousin, Juanco. He is a pretty famous designer in Italy, and we come together and design a helmet, and each one has a different meaning. For example, the helmet for the first oval race of the year at Kansas is called Orbital Flow. It's a line that flows in an orbit, and it shows the way they flow. It was a good one to start the oval races with. I have two for Indy. One is for testing, and the other is for the actual race. I love my helmets and definitely, for me, they are very important. I keep them at home, in the office, and my father has some of them."

***

TomTom, the world's leading provider of location and navigation solutions, announced today that the voices of Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates drivers are now available for users of TomTom devices. Users that have installed TomTom HOME can download for free their favorite drivers voices at www.tomtom.com/racevoices.

The voices include two-time and reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion and 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, two-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon and 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner and current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Juan Pablo Montoya.

TomTom portable navigation devices guide drivers with audible, turn-by-turn instructions and 3D maps. On the road, the race car drivers will help safely and efficiently guide TomTom users to their destinations. Each driver gives funny and witty instructions, putting the fun back into the daily commute.

In addition to the driver's voices, car icons and start-up images of the IZOD IndyCar Series cars and Ganassi stock car also are available exclusively at www.tomtom.com/racevoices.

***

It's a double celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the Boy Scouts of America is celebrating its 100th anniversary of serving the nation's youth and the Speedway is in the middle year of its Centennial Era.

The commemorative gold-and-white 100th anniversary No. 19 car is driven by 2007 Firestone Indy Lights champion Alex Lloyd, who is entered in his third Indy 500. In January, the Boy Scouts of America and Dale Coyne Racing announced the alliance focused on advancing youth leadership and education. Dale Coyne Racing is featuring the BSA logo on the car through the 17-race IZOD IndyCar Series season.

ALEX LLOYD: "In my wildest dream, I would never have imagined from when I was a scout in England 15 years ago that I would be driving the Boy Scouts of America IndyCar, let alone during their 100th anniversary. It is a true honor to represent the more than 100 million scouts that have been members of the BSA since its inception back in 1910."

ROBERT MAZZUCA (Chief scout executive, Boy Scouts of America): "To have two legendary organizations -- the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Boy Scouts of America -- celebrate our first 100 years with the No. 19 BSA car in the Indy 500 is a dream come true for our entire membership past, present and future."

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The first Indy 500 Memorabilia Appraisal Expo will take place from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday, May 26 in the Louis Meyer and Emerson Fittipaldi rooms on Legends Row at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The show is presented by the National Indy 500 Collectors Club.

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Jim Rathmann joined an elite club this month of drivers who were living to see the 50th anniversary of their Indianapolis 500 victory. Ray Harroun, Jules Goux, Rene Thomas, Peter DePaolo and Louis Meyer are the others.

To commemorate the event, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway commissioned a special trophy consisting of the Wing & Wheel logo in gold, along with one of the 3.2 million Culver Block bricks used in paving the Speedway surface in 1909.

Rathmann, who battled Rodger Ward and was part of a 500 Mile Race-record 29 lead changes before he took the checkered flag in 1960, is doing well and eagerly awaits watching the race May 30.

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford made the presentation to Rathmann, 81, in Melbourne, Fla.

JOHNNY RUTHERFORD: "He made up so many of my Indy 500 memories, before I was a driver. The first Indianapolis 500 I attended in person was the 1960 race. I still remember going to that race with fellow drivers Jim McElreath, Shady McQarter and owner H. P. Looper. We had seats in the north grandstands of the infield on the backstretch. The duel between Jim and Rodger was one for the record books. Little did we know that some 50 years later it would still be an Indy 500 record."

JIM RATHMANN: "This is quite an honor, and the trophy is beautiful. I am as happy as anyone to celebrate my living to see the anniversary of my win 50 years ago. That was a great duel with Rodger. Ward was one of the toughest drivers out there and beating him meant a lot to me, and winning the Indy 500 changed my entire life. Winning the '500' was and still is the all-time highlight of my racing career. To win that day, in that race against Ward, means so much to me."

***

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser visited the Media Center today.

BOBBY UNSER: (On his rookie race and the rookie experience at Indy): "A rookie year for anybody at this place is always really humbling. It'll humble the biggest, the hardest and the best. It's Indianapolis. Look at the grandstands, look at the racetrack; it's the largest single-day sporting event in this Earth. So naturally, when you come here as a rookie, you've got a case of the jitters. I remember my first trip driving down Georgetown Road. I just couldn't believe anything was that big. It's so impressive. It's far beyond any imagination that I could have. It's just awesome and to be able to win it; you don't think you can do that. Out of all the guys that come here every year, only one guy is going to win it. Everybody tries to give the rookie their knowledge, their experience, their thoughts on how to handle themselves and what to do, how to not get into a wreck when the race first starts. But of course, they're still going to do it. In fact, I crashed in the first few laps of my rookie race. But once you come back you're second year, you aren't a rookie anymore. You're an old-timer, but when you're a rookie, boy, you're really a rookie. So the rookie year is tough on any driver."

(On his favorite Indy moments): "Obviously, a favorite would be my first win. I did 19 years here in a row that I made every race. There was one in the middle there that I just barely made it. Nonetheless, the big thing to me is that it is so important just to make the race. It gets easier as you get experience, but it never becomes super easy because you're still going to have to race these guys. No matter what."

(On safety): "Back in our era, we had something like almost half of the drivers could get seriously injured or killed in a race car. And nowadays, I look and the safety improvements, and I think, 'Wow.' I mean, they have done such a good job. I just don't want to see the safety get in the way of any change or innovation. It won't and it shouldn't."

(On current drivers in the IZOD IndyCar Series): "I could never pick out a top driver because there are so many good ones. They are all good. You look at the top teams in the series, and they're being challenged every so often by even the littlest guy. The drivers here are very good. You've got drivers that do well on road courses, and others that do well on the oval circuits. I'd like to add the championship dirt cars to the series. It would add more excitement. When people would see a driver that drives on road circuits, oval circuits and in dirt cars; they're going to say: 'Wow. That cat is a race car driver.'"

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Drivers representing four different teams posted the top five speeds of the day today: Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti), Team Penske (Ryan Briscoe), FAZZT Race Team (Alex Tagliani) and Newman/Haas Racing (Hideki Mutoh).

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The top 34 drivers today were separated by .9761 of a second. Eight drivers turned laps of 225mph or faster.

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A total of 44 cars are currently at the Speedway, and 42 have passed technical inspection and two are in the process. Thirty-six drivers have been on the track to date and turned 2,282 laps today and 5,844 laps this month. Tony Kanaan turned 134 laps today, more than any other driver. There were four cautions for a total of 26 minutes.

***

The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues May 30 with the 2010 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at noon (ET) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway The race will air live on VERSUS.

-source: irl

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