CASTRONEVES LEADS AS PRACTICE OPENS FOR 2010 INDIANPOLIS 500 INDIANAPOLIS - Tony Kanaan wasn't the fastest driver during Opening Day of preparations for the 2010 Indianapolis 500, but he was one of the busiest. The 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series ...
CASTRONEVES LEADS AS PRACTICE OPENS FOR 2010 INDIANPOLIS 500
INDIANAPOLIS - Tony Kanaan wasn't the fastest driver during Opening Day of preparations for the 2010 Indianapolis 500, but he was one of the busiest.
The 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion shook down all five Andretti Autosport cars entered in the Indianapolis 500 before regular drivers Marco Andretti, John Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Danica Patrick took hold of their cars.
Defending race winner Helio Castroneves posted the fastest lap of the day of 39.7170 seconds (226.603 mph) on the 2.5-mile oval. Twenty-seven driver/car combinations recorded 451 incident-free laps before yielding to rookies and drivers undertaking a refresher course. None of the seven rookies attempting to qualify for the race completed all four phases of the Rookie Orientation Program, though Simona De Silvestro, Ana Beatriz and Takuma Sato successfully completed two of the four phases.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Dario Franchitti (226.535 mph) and Scott Dixon (226.237) - who won the 2007 and 2008 Indy 500s, respectively - were next on the list. Dan Wheldon, runner-up to Castroneves in the 500 Mile Race last year, was fourth (225.609) in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car.
Ed Carpenter, competing in an IZOD IndyCar Series event for the first time since the '09 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, was seventh quick (224.592 mph) in the No. 20 Panther/Vision Fuzzy's Vodka entry for Panther Racing.
DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:
All six Chevrolet Camaros that have served as Pace Cars for the Indianapolis 500 were lined up on pit road during opening ceremonies today for the 2010 Indianapolis 500: 1967, 1969, 1982, 1993, 2009 and 2010.
"Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts will drive the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS Pace Car to lead the field of 33 drivers to the start of the Indianapolis 500 on May 30.
A parade of 125 Chevrolet Camaros owned by Indiana residents kicked off Indianapolis Star Opening Day ceremonies this morning.
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 and Sunday. 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:
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard was the honorary starter today, waving the green flag to start the first practice for the 2010 Indianapolis 500.
GREG BALLARD: "It is a great day. We have a beautiful day for the first day of practice, and for them to allow me once again to start practice by waving the green flag is really, really special. It is very important to the city. The name Indianapolis is known around the world. As many people know, I spent 23 years in the Marine Corps, so I have watched this race in different countries around the world and people ask me about it all the time, so it is very, very special. It brings a lot of attention to the name of Indianapolis around the world and obviously has a great economic impact."
(Do you feel any pressure when waving the green flag?): "Yes! When that car goes by the first time, they are flying about 200 mph and are not that far away from me, and I know it. So you get a little goose bumps, but I know they are under control. I'm always a little nervous because you know everybody is going to be taking pictures, so you want to have a good pose if you at all can."
Indianapolis 500 veteran Jaques Lazier was in Gasoline Alley today, checking on the availability of rides for the 2010 Indianapolis 500.
JAQUES LAZIER: "It's Indy; it's the month of May, so there are always opportunities, but I would think they are very far and few between. We were close to getting something done. Unfortunately that fell through. I think at the point more I'm going to be working the suite, trying to build my sponsors for some races this year and for a full-time situation next year. You come here, and you can't give up. I have been in the race seven times, and you never know what will happen. Someone could struggle and they need to put the car in the show and I'm here if they need it."
(Do you have your helmet?): "I have my American Express card. I never leave home without it."
Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti talked about the challenge of fielding cars for five drivers this year for the Indianapolis 500 - John Andretti, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: "We have the experience to do it. We did it twice when I was driving, so it shouldn't be that bad. We ran two weeks ago with no problems. We think it brings value to the team, not taking from it."
(Do you need additional staff?): "No. We're using some of our Indy Lights guys, and it has actually been quite refreshing to have John come in because he gives us a little different perspective on things."
2009 Chase Rookie of the Year Alex Tagliani didn't turn any laps today in the No. 77 FAZZT Race Team entry, which was by design. Tagliani also is recovering from bronchitis.
ALEX TAGLIANI: "I was in (Methodist Hospital) for about 48 hours (earlier this week) with a bad case of bronchitis. They took really good care of me. I'm not 100 percent yet - I'm still coughing - so obviously it was needed. It could have turned into a bad scenario, maybe pneumonia."
(About team's plans): "We're starting tomorrow. Our team decided when it's green on a track like here at Indy you don't want to go out there and confuse yourself. We know where we are, and we have a good car. We were strong at Kansas, where we qualified fifth. Today is just for preparation, giving time for the guys to get ready. Tomorrow we're going to do our install and check out the car. Over the next week, there's still plenty of time to practice. This is a track where you want to be relaxed and go out when you're ready, when you know the conditions are good for you. You don't just want to be out there all the time pounding laps."
Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear driver Conor Daly was in the paddock today. Daly, 18, from nearby Noblesville, Ind., is the son of six-time Indianapolis 500 entrant Derek Daly. Conor Daly graduated from high school last night.
The Star Mazda Championship is part of the Road to Indy program along with Firestone Indy Lights and the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda.
CONOR DALY: "I've been waiting a long time (for graduation), and I'm excited to be able to focus solely on racing now, with one less distraction. I'm driving in the Star Mazda Championship as part of the Road to Indy. We race next weekend at Laguna Seca and then here on the 29th at the Night Before the 500 out at O'Reilly Raceway Park. It's our first oval race of the year. We tested there a couple of weeks ago and set the fastest lap ever turned around O' Reilly Raceway Park, so I'm pretty excited about that race because we've got a really good car. I definitely want to race here at the Speedway as soon as possible. I'm still young, though. I'm only 18, but hopefully at the end of this year I can put together a road course race in the Firestone Indy Lights series. Then hopefully do the Freedom 100 here next May. We'll see what happens."
Simona De Silvestro is one of five women and seven rookies attempting to qualify for the 2010 Indianapolis 500. She has competed in all five IZOD IndyCar Series races this season for HVM Racing.
De Silvestro, 21, is from Thun, Switzerland, a nation in which auto racing is banned.
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO:
(About auto racing being banned in Switzerland): "Ah, yes, it is kind of bad that it is banned. We are a pretty small country, so I have France and Italy right around us, which is kind of the mecca of go-kart racing. I went to France with my dad when I was 6 and went go-karting there. We have a few good Swiss drivers, so we hope that maybe things will change and it won't be banned anymore, that's for sure."
(When you finished third in 2006 at Indy in the Formula BMW support race to the United States Grand Prix, the Italian flag flew behind you on the podium): "Yeah, that's the thing: When you are in Switzerland, they only give you the racing license when you turn 18. At that time, I think I was 17, so I have double nationality with the Italian one, so we are kind of playing around now with the Swiss."
(Did you spend a lot of time in Italy?): "Yes, I did actually, pretty much all my racing came there. But I was born in Switzerland." (Here) Michael Schumacher was my racing hero. He is pretty unbelievable so I hope to be able to follow in his footsteps and try to do the same. He is really a great driver."
(On doing well at Kansas and oval racing): "Kansas was my first ever oval, so it was a little weird. It took my first 50 laps. I was kind of searching my way, but in the middle I was running as fast as the leader, which is a pretty good point. So I am really looking forward to being in Indy so I can keep learning and keep pushing in on it, and so I think we can do some good things."
De Ferran Dragon Racing co-owner Gil de Ferran, who won the 2003 Indianapolis 500, talked about his team's prospects this month with driver Raphael Matos in the No. 2 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing entry and Davey Hamilton in the No. 21 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing entry.
GIL DE FERRAN: "It's great to be back here in Indy. We already have our heads down here trying to figure out what to do next; it's typical fashion."
(On what the plan is for the team with the new qualifying format): "Well, I think there's still a lot of track time available for everyone to run. But the weather here could be questionable during the week, so we have to take the track time when it's available to us. We're trying to make the most of today, slowly evolve the car and work on the handling of the car to make the drivers comfortable."
(On his comfort level now that he's been with the team a couple months): "We're still a very, very young operation. This team, before we joined forces, only had one full season. Certainly, this is my first full season involved (as an owner) in IndyCar racing. I think for our level of experience, the fact that we're in the top 10 in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship is a great accomplishment. We just have to keep our heads down and keep going forward here."
(On the team's confidence and approach this year with Raphael Matos now in his second year and having veteran Davey Hamilton driving the teams second entry): "I think it will be very beneficial for us and both for Davey and Rafa to have each other to use as a reference. To be honest with you, I think during the regular season we're missing a little bit of that for Rafa with having another guy there with experience to compare notes with and to compare the data with. So I'm glad we're able to have Davey here at Indianapolis. He's already done a test with us that went very well. We're looking forward to having him around. Having two engineers exchanging information, two drivers exchanging information, it's more work to pull it all together. But I think the benefits outweigh the negatives, especially with the lack of testing (during the season). I don't believe we test enough. I know testing costs money. At the end of the day, if you want to introduce new drivers into the series and new teams like us, we're in desperate need of more miles. Having two cars running here will help."
John Andretti's father, Aldo Andretti, watched his son take to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's famed 2.5-mile oval today as an Andretti Autosport driver. John Andretti finished ninth May 1 at Kansas Speedway driving for his cousin Michael's team, in association with NASCAR legend Richard Petty, in the Team Window World entry.
ALDO ANDRETTI: "I've been waiting for a long time for John to team up with Michael, and this year it was possible. Things are looking really good so far. This might be his best chance to do as well as he can out here. He's got a good, solid team behind him. He says the car feels good. I think he's quite lucky to have that situation going for him. I'm looking forward to (the race)."
Indianapolis 500 veteran and Firestone Indy Lights team owner Bryan Herta talked today about owning an entry in the Indianapolis 500 through his Bryan Herta Autosport team. Rookie Sebastian Saavedra is driving the No. 29 William Rast/Bryan Herta Autosport entry.
BRYAN HERTA: "It's definitely exciting and a new challenge for me and the whole team. The preparation has been hectic but very satisfying. We're looking forward to seeing what we can do. We had a plan when we started the team last year to start small, start in (Firestone) Indy Lights and grow the team progressively. This year we're running two full-season entries in the Firestone Indy Lights series, and this was the next step. Our plan was to field a car in the Indy 500, and we're just trying to grow our program and learn as much as we can this month."
(On taking that next step with a rookie driver): "It's good because we've got a lot of experienced people within the team. We've tried to surround Sebastian with experience so that he's really the only rookie on the team. Everybody else involved with this program has been to the Indianapolis 500 many times. He's really the only new one here, and I think that's really important. As a rookie he can rely on the experience people we've put around him."
Race car driver Zach Veach can't drive on the road yet, but he wants to ensure that they are safe when he does start driving.
Veach, 15, who races for Andretti Autosport in the USF2000 National Championship as part of the Indy Racing League's "Road to Indy" program, has joined talk-show host Oprah Winfrey in her quest to make today's cars a "No Phone Zone." Veach will assist Winfrey in obtaining the signatures of the 33 drivers that qualify for this year's Indianapolis 500 for her anti-texting petition.
So far, Stockdale, Ohio, native Veach has pledges from six drivers, including three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and 2010 race winners Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay through their signatures on an Apple's iPad, which will be auctioned at www.charityBUZZ.com along with an IZOD IndyCar Series experience at an upcoming race to benefit FocusDriven, an advocacy group for victims of motor vehicle crashes involving drivers using cell phones and the official beneficiary in Winfrey's "No Phone Zone" campaign.
There was one catch, though: Veach isn't old enough to enter the garage area, so he was forced to try to get as many signatures as possible as drivers enter and exit Gasoline Alley.
ZACH VEACH (Andretti Autosport USF2000 driver): "I'm really excited to get the Indy 500 drivers on board with Oprah's campaign. I signed Oprah's pledge in Chicago on April 30 while attending the show and think it's a necessary program to make today's roads safer."
(About getting signatures): "We're off to a really good start. We have the six signatures so far, and we'll try to get as many as we can today. And we're working on getting in there."
Indianapolis 500 veteran Townsend Bell was asked today by a local writer about his goals for the Month of May in the #99 Herbalife Ganassi/Schmidt Racing entry. Bell replied, "We're here hoping to rob the bank," referring to the rich purse posted each year by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
1992 Indianapolis 500 pole winner Roberto Guerrero visited the track today.
ROBERTO GUERRERO: "It's a lot of fun. I haven't been here for a long time, and it's like coming back home."
(On working with young Colombian driver Sebastian Saavedra trying to qualify for the Indianapolis 500): "I'm really, really excited to be working with Sebastian. I think, obviously, he's a very young kid but very mature for his age. I really think I'm going to be able to help him with all the years of experience I have here. He's a great kid from a great family, and I think he's going to go places."
Rahal Letterman Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal and his son, Graham Rahal, announced today that Quick Trim will serve as the primary sponsor of the No. 30 entry driven by Graham Rahal this month in the Indianapolis 500.
The team won the 2004 Indianapolis 500 with Buddy Rice behind the wheel.
Quick Trim® is one of the nation's leading diet systems, with products designed to jump-start metabolism and burn calories 300 percent faster than the body does naturally. The products are marketed and promoted by Kim and Khloe Kardashian of "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" fame and are available at GNC, Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Duane Reade, Nexcom and Kinney Drug.
BOBBY RAHAL (1986 Indianapolis 500 winner): "This year's Indianapolis 500 is very important to me and to our entire organization, and having Quick Trim® come aboard for the month makes it even more special. A brand like Quick Trim® joining us for 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing' is a major boost to our effort. I would also like to recognize the efforts of TopSpeed Management in helping us finalize this partnership."
KIM KARDASHIAN: "I am thrilled to be going racing with Quick Trim® and Rahal Letterman Racing at the Indianapolis 500! I have been burning calories with Quick Trim® and now it's time to burn up the track!" said Kardashian as she is preparing for the big race.
In 2009, 25 veterans and six rookies took the track on the first day both were on track together. Today, 27 veterans and seven rookies took the track.
Tony Kanaan turned a total of 36 laps in five different cars today for Andretti Autosport. That was the second-highest total of the day behind Alex Lloyd, who turned 39 in his primary car.
A total of 42 cars are currently at the Speedway and 36 have passed technical inspection. Thirty-four drivers have been on the track to date and turned 597 laps today and this month. Alex Lloyd turned 39 laps today and this month, most of any driver. There were seven cautions for a total of three hours, 10 minutes today.
INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE QUOTES:
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "We basically just ran the backup car today to shake it down. We were pretty conservative on the setup, especially on the downforce levels. All we wanted to do was make sure it ran properly. We put it away, and the Target team will switch over to the primary car tonight. We expect to run the same program tomorrow with the primary, then go to full runs starting on Monday."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic): "I'm very happy to come back to Indy again. It's a very special place. We were not planning to push too much today; it was just a warm-up, so I was very patient. Our speed wasn't that bad, so I am looking forward to tomorrow and into qualifying very much. In Kansas, we qualified fourth and were running well for most of the race, so I think that shows that we have the pace and can build on that."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske): "It was good to be out on track. It felt great to be turning laps at the Speedway on opening day. There were a lot of familiar faces and a lot of fans. Today was a good smooth start for Team Penske to the beginning of this year's Indianapolis 500."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD): "My car is very comfortable. We just need to work on the speed. But we've got a lot of time to do that, and I have a lot of confidence in the IZOD guys and know we'll get there. I just couldn't believe how much weight there was in the (steering) wheel, which is obviously grip, and grip is a really nice thing to feel around here - really nice."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "We went out in our T car today for the first practice of the month, and I felt very comfortable. I have more IndyCar experience now, and it felt very natural to get back to work in the Verizon car here at Indy. We're definitely happy with the season so far, but the only thing we're focused on now is being quick here. Verizon partnered with our team last year and we were able to finish fifth in the Indy 500, so I'm excited to be back and to have the chance to improve on what we accomplished last year."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven): "We just wanted to make sure that all of our cars had the same feel and make sure that we had the same starting point for everybody. So they voted me the guy to do that. They tell me it's because I'm a veteran, but usually that means you're old, and I definitely don't see myself that way, so I'm not sure. But I'm glad to do it, and I think we've got a good idea of where we are as a team and where we need to go for the 7-Eleven car."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): "I'm a little disappointed that we didn't get more track time in today, but it's good to be back in Indy. The Venom car rolled off with decent balance, but we have to find more speed this week. We just didn't have the time today to make some of the changes we'd like; hopefully tomorrow will be more productive."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): "It's always good when you start with a positive wave, there is certainly still a lot of work to go. It was just the right time and the right moment with two cars in front of me. It seems to be very interesting this year: Even if you are away from another car, the draft is tremendous. It is going to play a lot of tricks during the month of May. So far, the 3T car seems to be where we want it, so we won't touch the car and keep at it."
(On a short, yet positive first day of practice reaching 226 mph): "Absolutely, to start in a positive way certainly makes us feel good about where to go. It was just the right time at the right moment. Obviously, there were two cars in front of me. It's hard to tell sometimes who's running a clean lap. But so far the T car seems to be where we want to be."
(On how much time will be spent strictly on race setup before focusing on Pole Day): "We're talking about, I think, until Wednesday, depending on the weather, working on race setup. Obviously, we have to find out if it rains or not. But first it's good to keep working on the race car and tire management and not worrying so much about how fast we can go today."
(On the new qualifying format): "Honestly, it's hard. We always want to change to try to make it better and exciting, especially for the fans. As long as it's good for the fans, it's going to be really fun. It all depends on how the week is going to go. You know, you may have a chance to be right up there for the top nine and points. But if you don't feel you're going to make the top nine, you still have to focus on making the race."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "Like Helio, pretty solid day, short day but good. It was a good day for Team Target, myself and Scott. To have the car feeling so good was really encouraging. I managed to do a couple laps and saw TK (Tony Kanaan) ahead of me and managed to draft off of him. It was a nice way to start the month. With the new regulations, the IndyCar Series has changed things definitely, but there's no doubt the Target cars are good. That was a T car, so we're hoping the other cars will be a little better, too. It's going to be a long week, here. We still have a lot of work to do. We have to get the cars fast in qualifying trim and race trim. This was a very positive start for our team. It helps that we unloaded off the truck with good cars. We have to take advantage of all the track time we can get in the next eight days."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Team Window World): "We only did about five laps today, but we did everything we wanted to do with the #43 Team Window World car. I'm really excited about the prospects of it. We came back to the garage, and we'll make a couple of changes to the car for tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will be good then, and we'll get some more laps in. I'm looking forward to getting back out there."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com): "It's really great to be back at the Speedway. I love everything about this place. Today's practice went well, and the GoDaddy car feels good. I'm really looking forward to the next couple of weeks here."
PAUL TRACY (No. 15 GEICO - KV Racing Technology): "We just wanted to shake the car down today, and check for some oil leaks. We really want to get a feel for the car in race trim, race downforce level and just feel it out. We have a small issue on the car that we had to go back to the shop to get a part for, and that's put an end to our day because it's only a two-hour practice session. We wanted to be out there when everyone else went out to feel the car out, but we've got a whole week of practice. We'll get this little issue corrected and be back out there tomorrow."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Z-Line Designs): "It felt good to finally get out on track. It was kind of frustrating. We did one three-lap run and had a lot of buffeting on my helmet, so we went back and came back out and the car was great. We missed a lot of running and then did one lap and it started to rain. I had three to four good laps there at the end. The car was running good, feels good, easily flat. It was a good day. We got what we wanted. We stopped the buffeting, did the set-down and double-checked everything. It was a day to check all those maintenance things and make sure everything is exactly where you want it to be."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co. A.J. Foyt Racing):
(On getting back out there after last year's race and accident): "It feels good. The car is solid, no problems. We're just made sure we had a couple of things done before we get going. Today's just the first day on the track. There's a long way to go, so we're just making sure everything works. We have a brand new car we've never run, so we have to ease up on it."
(On the progress of this team the last couple of years): "My confidence with this team has grown immensely. Last year was an improvement from what they had already. This year, we went a step further adding Jeff Britton. Larry (Foyt) has been able to take more care of more of the day-to-day things. A.J. is making the big decisions, and that's how it is supposed to be. From this point on, we have to grow. We've come a long way, and it's showing this year. Last year, it didn't. It was a troubled year with my accident and having different drivers. So many things happened. But this year it's showing."
ALEX LLOYD (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America): "We seem to be lucky. We got a good amount of running in around the showers. Our car feels pretty good. We were a little high on our downforce. A lot of people were going for qualifying trim and going for speed. There's no need for us to rush at it. We just looked at the balance. The balance of our car is very good, so that's pretty promising. We'll see how it goes when we start taking downforce off and see where the speeds are."
DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): "It has been a busy schedule once the season started. It seems we have either been testing or racing. The guys did an extremely good job in getting the Panther Racing car prepared for Indianapolis. The paint scheme (mostly camouflage) for this month that National Guard and Panther Racing have come up with will be the prettiest car out there. The initial baseline that we did, the car ran very, very well. I've been around here long enough to know that it doesn't make too much difference at this point, but it's always better to start good than the other way around. It's very exciting to be back here. I love this track. I really feel that every time we come here that we have a very good chance of winning. That's certainly very positive. There is a lot of work left to be done. There's a lot of time to continue to improve the car or potentially get lost. All in all, we're excited for the month. The Ganassi cars, they seemed quite a bit laid back. I was quite impressed with my boy, Dixie (Scott Dixon). It was one of those days just to shake the car down, make sure everything's running as it should, do a good systems check and continue to be disciplined with your plan."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Panther/Vision/Fuzzy's Vodka): "We didn't put a lot of emphasis on speed today because it was all about shaking down the car, getting a baseline set up without focusing on lap times, and getting comfortable with the car and team. The team part is already there because I have worked with David (Cripps) and Al (Bodey) and Nathan (O'Rourke) before, and the trust is already there, making it easier to communicate and go out there with a good sense of confidence. Today everything went according to the plan we had laid out for ourselves. We'll focus on the race car setup at the start of the week and move toward putting more speed into it for qualifying as the week progresses. It's just so nice to be back on track. This Indy 500 race will actually be my 100th IndyCar series race, and I am so very grateful for the opportunity thanks to the partnership we have with Panther this month and having Fuzzy Zoeller step in with his vodka sponsorship as the last piece of the puzzle."
SARAH FISHER (No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing): "I was very happy to get some laps in today with the Dollar General car and create a solid baseline that we can continue to work from. We will be excited to work on qualifying, but right now it's all about mechanical grip instead of trimming out for the fastest speed."
MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology): "It was an easy day for us. We just ran 10 laps for a shakedown on the No. 32 KV Racing Technology car. We didn't want to run much today. We had planned to get ready for Sunday. The car felt good."
E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA-Jet Aviation-KVRT): "It felt very natural for me today after being away for a year. I was very comfortable with the car. We didn't run much today, but it is a good way to start the month. Now we can go step-by-step with our setup and improve throughout the week. After the Kansas race, I feel very confident about our car."
INDIANAPOLIS 500 ROOKIE ORIENTATION/REFRESHER QUOTES:
JAY HOWARD (No. 66 Service Central/Tire Kingdom): "It's a shame about the rain, but it was good to get some laps in. The car feels good, and I'm eager to put the petal all the way down. I'd like to thank Service Central for giving me this opportunity to be here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Here's to hoping for dry weather tomorrow!"
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 Lotus-KV Racing Technology): "It was good to learn the track and get a feel for it and the car. The track here at Indianapolis has very different characteristics. Unfortunately, we had to stop rookie orientation due to the rain. That was a shame. But hopefully we can finish the rest of the rookie orientation on Sunday."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 41 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): "I'm disappointed that I didn't get to run today, but there's nothing you can do about Mother Nature. For the short time we were out there, we had a telemetry problem with a new antenna, so they replaced that so it should be sorted out. It's one of those things that tests well in the garage or the pit lane and doesn't show up until you're out running. But we'll be ready to go tomorrow and hopefully we can get some running in. The good thing is that Vitor did get out in the other ABC Supply car and said it was solid so that gives me a lot of confidence because our cars are set up the same. That's the good thing about being part of a two-car team here."
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 Herbalife Ganassi/Schmidt Racing): "We just wanted to shake off the rust and get a feel for things again. And, mainly just see that the seat, helmet, belts, spotters and radio all work. It was an all-systems check. Frankly, we accomplished most of that in the two laps we ran before the first rain delay, and everything felt pretty good. It's awkward to try and not go fast, just running a set speed because we took the option of doing the refresher (test)."
(About returning to the seat): "It was great. I was expecting it to feel like a much longer layoff, but it's amazing how all of a sudden it just feels all so normal. Obviously, Scott (Dixon) and Dario (Franchitti) ran well, so we know we have a good car. So, we just wanted to take our time and make sure all the "I"s are dotted and the "T"s are crossed."
(About getting up to speed after the rain delay): "It felt good to get up to speed. It's a little strange running around here with the feeling that God is watching everything you do (during refresher test)."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 30 The Quick Trim/RLR Special): "This might be the most comfortable car I've ever had here. We weren't using as much track as we have at some other times here, and we were running pretty conservatively today. We just wanted to come in and get a baseline, get a good feel for where we are, but I feel very good about it just with what we did today."
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 25 Ipiranga/DRR):
(On the excitement of stepping up from running Firestone Indy Lights to the IZOD IndyCar Series): "Unfortunately, I couldn't run as much as I would have liked today. I was thinking I could go through all phases of the rookie orientation program today and then tomorrow start working on speed. But is what it is: It's rain. I felt very comfortable in the car. It was easy to drive and get up to speed. I am very excited to debut here for the Indy 500."
(Do you feel your experience driving here before in the Freedom 100 helped you today?): "Sure, the (driving) lines are the same in IndyCar. Turn 1 is still the most difficult one. Probably the most different thing is the racing. In (Firestone) Indy Lights, you can go two-wide, three-wide here. In IndyCar, that is not possible, so I have to remember this in the race. The way you drive the cars is very similar. Of course, you can feel the power of the Indycar. It's much more powerful. But the way you drive it is much the same."
(On the possibility of having five women in the race): "On the track, we all feel like drivers. We're all the same. Off the track, it's interesting."
JAY HOWARD (No. 66 Service Central/Tire Kingdom):
(On being back at Indy as a rookie given his experience at the track): "It does feel a little strange. I guess it feels a little different. From a joyous point of view, I've got some great sponsors on board, and there is no way someone is going to strip me of this chance. It felt good this afternoon. I kept telling them I wanted to go faster, but they said, 'Take it easy, we don't want to upset Brian (Barnhart) or anyone.' I'm excited for the month. I feel relaxed, and I feel good."
(On being involved with Sarah Fisher Racing): "Having Sarah as a team owner is great. I don't need to tell you or anyone else what Sarah is about; she is a great person, and everyone loves her. I think that being able to relate to her, especially while she is driving, is an advantage to me. It's great because we go out in very similar cars. Even today, we talked about a bump in Turn 2 which hadn't been there before, but it is now. We were talking about that before we even went out. It's just nice to have that relationship where we can really relate to each other. There's some team owners out there that can't do that. I think having Sarah as a team owner is a good thing."
(On being motivated and driven by past troubles at Indy and in his career): "After my buddy Mr. Roth pulled me out of the car in '08, I was at PF Chang's, and I got a fortune cookie that said 'Good things come to those who are patient.' I thought, 'OK ...' I stuck the fortune to the top of my computer screen and every day that I would get pissed I could look at that and think, 'Keep digging, keep hammering away.' I just felt that I had come so far in my career and that I had never really had a sponsor except on a race-to-race basis that I had to work harder. Marty (Roth) had promised me so much and delivered almost zero. I realized that racing started to become more business than what it used to be. That's fine. You just need to realize what it is and work hard. I worked with Sarah, and we got this deal going. It's great. I've got the best sponsors I could imagine. I can't say enough good things about them. It has taught me a little, but I'm still the same person I was a couple years ago."
Indianapolis 500 veteran Davey Hamilton spoke today about his excitement about Indianapolis Star Opening Day. He is driving the No. 21 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing entry this month.
DAVEY HAMILTON: "It's Indy. Indy is everything. I moved here for this racetrack. I have lived for this race. I wouldn't have come back to IndyCar racing if it wasn't for this race. It's a cool place. Here I am - now the oldest driver. But first I have to get in. It's going to be good. I've logged a lot of laps driving the two-seater here. The other day I said, 'Man, I'm probably up to eight or 10 thousand rides in that thing, and they said, 'No, it's over 20,000 rides we've gave in that car.' So, I've got a lot of laps around here, and that's what enabled me to come back to racing and gave me the confidence that my feet would work again. Those guys are great partners, as well. They helped make this Indy program happen for me a couple of years ago, and we jointly worked with HP and we still do today. They're great guys. It's good to get laps in here. Obviously, I'm going to be speeding it up a bit more than I do the two-seater. I want to win this race. I know it's not going to be easy. I'm right across from Team Penske, and last time I checked, he had 15 rings. You have to be in the right program, and you have to have a lot of luck. Ganassi and a lot of other teams are very, very tough. For a guy like me to come in one time it's not going to be easy. But these guys are giving me a good opportunity."
(On driving for de Ferran Dragon with the guidance of 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner Gil De Ferran): "It's a new team. I have a great teammate in (Raphael) Matos. This team has had some success in the past. I'm hoping we can continue that success. Gil De Ferran is great. He's such a good guy. He brings a lot to this team. He really does. Jay Penske and Steve Luczo created a very good team. Bringing Gil in - he's day to day. He's really into this program, and he's going to make it good. I'm excited about it. I'm lucky to be a part of it. We have a great deal. It really worked out well with Hewlett Packard and Kingdom Racing. It's all good."
SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
8 a.m. Garages open
11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Rookie Orientation Program/refresher tests
3-6 p.m. Veteran practice
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.