Indy 500: Series Thursday practice report

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MORAES TOPS PRACTICE; SERVIA FASTEST AMONG NON-QUALIFIED DRIVERS INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, May 14, 2009) - Second-year Indianapolis 500 starter Mario Moraes, who led his first laps in the IndyCar Series in last year's "500" and qualified seventh...

MORAES TOPS PRACTICE; SERVIA FASTEST AMONG NON-QUALIFIED DRIVERS

INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, May 14, 2009) - Second-year Indianapolis 500 starter Mario Moraes, who led his first laps in the IndyCar Series in last year's "500" and qualified seventh for this year's race, paced the opening day of the second week of practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Moraes recorded a best lap of 40.4061 seconds, 222.739 mph on the 2.5-mile oval. Ryan Briscoe was second (222.406), and pole sitter Helio Castroneves was third (222.395) as the 22 drivers who have already qualified for the race worked on their race setups.

Eleven drivers who will attempt to qualify this weekend also practiced. Oriol Servia, who finished 11th as a rookie last year, was the fastest (seventh overall) with a lap at 221.353 mph. Townsend Bell, a two-time Indianapolis 500 starter, was second (10th overall) at 220.938. It was the first practice session of the month for both drivers.

Practice continues Friday with Third Day Qualifying scheduled for Saturday when starting positions 23-33 will be filled. Bump Day is Sunday.

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Both Helio Castroneves and Rick Mears drove to their third Indianapolis 500 poles in their ninth "500" start. Mears, the "Master of Faster," went on to win a record six poles in 15 starts. Mears earned his third pole at age 34 in 1986. Castroneves got his third pole the day before his 34th birthday in 2009.

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Former IMS Radio Network anchor and ABC Indianapolis 500 anchor Paul Page will offer commentary during the IMS Radio Network broadcast of the 2009 Indianapolis 500.

Page will provide pre-race, mid-race and post-race comments. Page will join former IMS Radio Network anchor Bob Jenkins and current anchor Mike King for a pre-race commentary on past "500" radio broadcasts.

***

In 1975, Eldon Rasmussen hit the wall in practice and the car was heavily damaged. Glenn O'Connor was in seminary. But the "500" grabbed O'Connor then ... and still does.

Father Glenn O'Connor, a Catholic priest in Indianapolis, has been a member of crews at the "500" ever since.

REV. GLENN O'CONNOR: "When he (Rasmussen) crashed, we worked around the clock to put it back together, and he made the race. It got in my blood. I was hooked. When I got involved with Eldon, I loved it. We pulled it out of the fire, so to speak. I've been with various teams, Morales for a long time, Hemelgarn, Blueprint ... PDM the last 10 years. I've been the board man and the jack man - back when they were using jacks - pretty much whatever they told me to do. This will be kind of a down year. We're remodeling one church and building another from the ground up. I'm not on a crew now, but that could change pretty quickly. I'll be with PDM for the Freedom 100, for sure. I've loved every minute of it. It's been a wonderful experience, and I've met a lot of great people."

***

Hemelgarn Racing will have a familiar look when it rolls out its machine in preparation for the final qualifying weekend. Ron Hemelgarn is the owner. Lee Kunzman is the team manager. Ronnie Dawes is the engineer. And Buddy Lazier is the driver. All were together when Lazier won the Indianapolis 500 in 1996. Lazier is in eighth place in miles driven in the "500" at 6,665, the only driver entered in this year's race in the top 10 in that category.

LEE KUNZMAN: "The car ran last year. We built one last year with new suspension and everything, and it's the only time the car's been run. Over a period of years, all of our crew have been with us at one time or another -- Dennis LaCava is our crew chief again, Jason Beck, then there's 'Doc' (Hoyt Kerr Jr.). Bill Vukovich is over here giving us advice. We're all updated. Our chances are pretty fair to run decent. We don't count on running in the top five, but we can be in the top 10 somewhere. It's pretty hard to beat those top teams."

***

Today, there is a small law office on Main Street in Speedway, Ind., that houses the practice of Tom Deal. Attorneys and agents are prominent in auto racing today, but years ago in this Centennial Era, Deal had a unique perspective on the Indianapolis 500.

From the early 1980s through 1996, he doubled as a fueler for cars in the Indianapolis 500 driven by Bill Vukovich, Tom Bagley, Gary Bettenhausen, Sheldon Kinser, Tom Bigelow, Joe Saldana, Randy Lewis and Rich Vogler, among others.

TOM DEAL: "I met Dave Taylor and A.J. Watson, and the first race I fueled was Bill Vukovich at Ontario. I grew up on W. Michigan, and the minute I heard race cars, I'd ride my bike to the Speedway and sneak through the fence. I sold papers before the race there, too. When I looked through the fence, I said, 'One of these days, I'll be looking out instead of looking in,' and I had no idea it would evolve the way it did. I've seen or participated in every one since 1956. It meant so much to me to be involved. So many friends, such an accomplishment. A lot of people wish it had happened to them."

***

Rolando Coronado may be the most disappointed participant at Indy this year.

He was riding his motorcycle to the track Sunday, May 10 when he hit some sand two blocks from his house and had to lay down the bike, breaking two ribs.

Coronado, a native of Bogota, Colombia, was scheduled to run the air jack on pit stops for Hideki Mutoh's car on the Andretti Green Racing team, for which he has worked since 2000. For the moment, the long trail from Bogota to Indy has temporarily ended.

ROLANDO CORONADO: "The doctor thinks I'll be immobilized for three weeks, so I'm hoping to make it back to (the IndyCar Series race in) Texas. I don't have words to express what it's like not to be working the Indy 500. I know you're not the driver, not the main character, but it's a good feeling to know you're part of it. I was actually quite interested in it when I was young, and I worked in Bogota for a guy living in Miami. He had a race team in Bogota with little sports cars. After a year, he said the next thing I had to do was learn to speak English, so I was probably 20 and moved to Orlando and learned to speak English. I wanted to drive and went to a driving school, but the talent just wasn't there. I got a job with Jeff Simmons in (Firestone) Indy Lights, and when he moved up, he and his brother Chris asked me to come with him, and the team was nice enough to give me a chance. I've always run into really good people who have helped me. I was very lucky in that respect."

***

The 500 Festival has announced additional celebrities who will participate in the IPL 500 Festival Parade on Saturday, May 23. Actor Josh Duhamel, actress Kate Flannery, Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, Indiana Pacers Jeff Foster, Roy Hibbert and Stephen Graham, Olympic gymnasts Samantha Peszek and Bridget Sloan, and Dr. Lisa Masterson are among the celebrities and VIP's to be scheduled to participate in this year's celebration.

***

A pre-dawn storm that packed wind gusts of 70 mph did some minor damage to team equipment around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

A.J. Foyt's pit wagon, containing the computers the team uses to download on-board telemetry, was blown over on its side on pit lane. It took several crew members and a floor jack to right the cart.

The computers came through unscathed, according to team director Larry Foyt, but the antenna suffered damage.

In the adjoining pit, Vision Racing equipment suffered some cosmetic damage.

The storm caused breakfast in the Panther Racing hospitality area to be canceled. High winds ripped off the awning and bent most of the metal support poles.

It was "Patio City" later as hamburgers for lunch were being cooked on an outdoor grill.

***

The Indy Racing League and its crown jewel event, the Indianapolis 500, are taking New York by storm as IZOD this week rolled out "In Pursuit of FAST: 100 Years of Indy Racing, Fashion and Design" at Macy's through June 3.

"In Pursuit of FAST: 100 Years of Indy Racing, Fashion and Design" marks the kickoff to IZOD's international celebration of the 100th birthday of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The historic exhibit - featuring multiple generations of race cars from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, 500 Mile Race-winning driver helmets, original photographs and memorabilia -- dresses the large Broadway display windows and lines the (Broadway to Seventh Avenue) aisles. Also can't be missed are the 80- by 90-foot Times Square and Macy's Broadway storefront billboards heralding the retrospective.

Augmenting the exhibit, on May 18 the 33 drivers comprising the starting grid for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" will line up in the traditional 11 rows of three in Herald Square for a photo/media opportunity.

The next day, Rick Mears, Johnny Rutherford and Al Unser Jr. - who have a combined nine Indianapolis 500 victories - along with Ryan Hunter-Reay will greet fans and sign autographs at Macy's.

IZOD, a best-selling brand in the Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. portfolio, has created Indy car racing heritage-inspired and modern performance clothing lines to correspond to the Brickyard's anniversary - available at Macy's and Bon-Ton (Milwaukee, Iowa) in the United States and Hudson Bay stores in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, and online.

In 2008, IZOD became the official apparel sponsor of the IndyCar Series, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Firestone Indy Lights.

TERRY ANGSTADT (President, commercial division, Indy Racing League): "What this represents is an example of what a company that has the size, scale and experience of a PVH can bring to a company like ours if they get behind it and feel like it's a good investment. When you see the relationship they've been able to leverage with their largest customer, Macy's, to our benefit, it's absolutely historic in terms of the impact that it can have on the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."

***

A.J. Foyt Racing team director Larry Foyt will join the "Healthy Child Healthy World" and the "Full Speed 2 a Cure" campaigns with Emerson and Olivia Newton-John.

"Healthy Child Healthy World" (www.healthychild.org) is the leading national nonprofit advocating to protect young children from harmful chemicals in our environment. Newton-John is a founding board member of the organization.

"Full Speed 2 a Cure" is a cause-related motorsports marketing campaign that promotes and publicizes organizations that offer hope, assistance and treatment of cancer.

LARRY FOYT: "I've been looking for a way to give back, and joining the 'Full Speed 2 a Cure' campaign is the perfect fit for me. It utilizes both motorsports and the entertainment business to raise awareness for all types of cancers, and I'm excited to help Emerson and Olivia achieve their goals. I believe this campaign will take off and bring attention to this important cause in a unique and powerful way."

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN: "I am thrilled that Larry Foyt and 'Healthy Child' have joined the 'Full Speed 2 A Cure' campaign. Cancer is something that affects everyone from all walks of life, and with the resources that the Foyts and 'Healthy Child' bring, we are sure to spread the word about the importance of awareness and early detection to an even broader group of people."

***

Alex Lloyd and Sam Schmidt Motorsports drivers Ana Beatriz, Gustavo Yacaman and Wade Cunningham will visit Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis tonight for its Indy 500 Party. The drivers will sign autographs for patients and their families.

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Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. greeted customers and fans at Kirles Jewelers on Wednesday night in Indianapolis to raise money for the Cody Unser First Step Foundation.

A silent and live auction raised $5,740 for the foundation, a global, not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising research funds, public awareness and quality of life for those afflicted with all forms of spinal cord-related paralysis.

Cody Unser, Al Unser Jr.'s daughter, suffers from transverse myelitis.

***

The Dreyer and Reinbold team has only Davey Hamilton in the field among its four entries, but team manager Gary Neal said Wednesday that his other three would be ready to go for qualifying Saturday.

Rookie Mike Conway crashed Saturday during practice, while John Andretti crashed Sunday afternoon after qualifying. His speed was bumped from the field. Milka Duno also was bumped Sunday.

GARY NEAL: "Mike Conway will test Friday morning and be able to drive Friday afternoon. We're still waiting on the undertray. It (his accident) didn't get very much damage to the bodywork seeing as how hard he hit. Davey will be in Mike's car to leak check it with a new engine. Milka (Duno), we're pretty comfortable and just need more speed. John Andretti was ready to get qualified and his car had more extensive bodywork damage, but the car is back together. The sidepods still need to be repaired. We're pleased with the progression of each of the drivers but there's a lot of competition in the field. Still, I believe we would've had two or three cars in the field on Sunday if we didn't have the incidents. We have a spare car and a spare tub, but we prefer not to use them."

MIKE CONWAY: "I'm feeling OK now. I was sore on Tuesday, but I feel ready to get back into the car. I just want to thank the safety crew and the IndyCar Series medical staff for recovering me from the car and for taking good care of me. I'm anxious to get started."

ROBBIE BUHL (Co-owner, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "The most important thing is that Mike is OK. We have everything back together, and the team is ready this coming weekend. We have some work to do to have all Dreyer & Reinbold cars in the field. But we are confident going into the weekend."

DENNIS REINBOLD (Co-owner, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "We are very happy that Mike is OK, and that's what counts. The guys have done a great job in repairing the No. 24 Purex entry (Conway's car) and the No. 33 Window World entry (Andretti's car), and we look forward to the Bump Day weekend. We will get the cars ready for qualifying for John, Mike and Milka. We have to concentrate on getting them into the field. We will shift gears for Davey to the race setup, and we will learn as much we can off of his car. The good news is Davey's car is has the least miles. Next week, we will run Davey's car a lot and learn for the other three cars for the race."

***

Lisa Gardner, author of 10 New York Times bestselling crime thrillers, referenced IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick in her recent book, "Hide."

The excerpt:

"My car," D.D. said, pushing through the heavy glass doors. "Where's it parked?" She told him, he shook his head. "Mine's closer. Plus, you drive like a girl." "That would be Danica Patrick to you," D.D. muttered, but followed him swiftly toward his Crown Vic. Then, as they were getting in: "Charlie Marvin lied. That's good enough for me."

***

Firestone Indy Lights drivers Brandon Wagner and Logan Gomez of Kingdom Racing visited two

Indianapolis shelters that provide free tutoring services and educational advocacy to homeless children on Tuesday. Wagner and Gomez posed for pictures, answered questions and signed autographs for the kids that ranged in age from first graders to high schoolers.

Kingdom Racing is partnered with Davey Hamilton to field one car in Firestone Indy Lights and has partnered with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing to field a car for Hamilton in the Indianapolis 500. The team is using motorsports as a platform to share a spiritual message.

JANET YOUNGBLOOD HIATT (Vice president of development, School on Wheels): "The School on Wheels is Indianapolis' answer to increasing educational opportunities for school-aged homeless children in order to create economic opportunities necessary to break the cycle of homelessness."

BRANDON WAGNER: "It was great to see these kids eyes light up when we walked into the room. With our mission to deliver God's word to 1 million men through motorsports, it was truly rewarding to include these kids."

LOGAN GOMEZ: "The kids that we visited today have come from such an unfortunate situation. It was great to deliver a message of faith and see their reaction to us sharing our stories as they loved hanging with us."

***

Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell served as the honorary starter of practice today.

JIM CALDWELL: (Are you a race fan?): "Big race fan, really enjoy it. We had an opportunity to come out when we first arrived here in 2002, and we kind of hung around the pit crews and had an opportunity to kind of observe them do their job, and we attended the race, as well. It's been a lot of fun."

(About differences between football and racing): "Obviously the speed. Our game is a speed game, as well, and we build our team around speed, but this is a different type of speed. These guys and the precision that they have, the ability to control those cars at such a high velocity is incredible."

(About serving as honorary starter): "I'll tell you, it's the first time I've obviously been that close to a car going about 217 mph, so it was a great opportunity, and to feel the rush of the wind past you is something unusual."

(About being asked to serve as honorary starter): "I said, without question, I wanted to do it, was looking forward to it, and I knew it would be a great opportunity that wouldn't come around very often."

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Conquest Racing driver Alex Tagliani took advantage of a day off Wednesday to pay a visit to a elementary schools in Terre Haute and Lafayette, Ind. The visit was part of a school tour program designed to raise awareness about the "Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs" exhibition that will be at the Indianapolis Children's Museum from June to October. Tagliani, along with King Tut Exhibition organizers, gave students the chance to see his King Tut-liveried IndyCar Series car up close as well as a preview of the exhibit. Tagliani spoke about how he started in racing, shared his fascination for the Egyptian king with the kids and answered their questions.

ALEX TAGLIANI: "I had a great time doing the school visits on Wednesday. I enjoy seeing the kids' faces light up when you talk about racing or when they get to see a race car up close. It always reminds me of how lucky I am to be doing this. Obviously, being in Indiana, these kids know a lot about racing, and they asked some pretty good questions. I think it's fantastic that the exhibit is coming to Indianapolis at the Children's Museum, and that these students will get the chance to see the King Tut Exhibit and learn about ancient Egyptian history. I would have loved to be able to see such an exhibit when I was a kid and learning about Egypt. I will definitely go to the exhibit when it comes to Indianapolis."

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INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY CENTENNIAL ERA FACT OF THE DAY: In 1935, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the first track in the world to install safety-warning lights. Also in 1935, helmet use became mandatory at the Speedway, a first for motor racing worldwide. Helmets were not required in European Grand Prix racing until 1952.

***

Dave Michaels of Indianapolis, a chief steward and team owner in the United States Auto Club's new .25 Midget Series, watched practice today.

DAVE MICHAELS: "I've been a quarter-midget racer since 1963, a team owner and a chief steward of USAC's .25 development series since its inception. The goal of .25 is to build a ground-floor feeder series for American racing. We're giving kids a place to start at a very young age on the ground floor of open-wheel racing. From there, they build into the Ford Focus and Midget programs and eventually into the Sprint cars and hopefully out here at Indianapolis someday."

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Second-generation driver Conor Daly has been spending a great deal of time at the track this month, networking in the garage area and pits. Daly is the son of Derek Daly, a six-time Indianapolis 500 starter. Conor, who started racing karts at age 10, moved last year to the Skip Barber National Championship, where he became the second-youngest champion, earning a $350,000 scholarship to compete in the 2009 Star Mazda series. He also competed in England's Formula Ford Festival and won the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone, becoming the first American to win that race.

CONOR DALY: "I've been at this track for the entire month of May every year of my life. It's just been a part of my life as I grew up, having my dad who raced here and my mom whose main business (operating hospitality suites) is at the Speedway. My dream is to do Formula One. I know it's difficult for Americans, but I'm hopeful now with this possible USF1 team. I'd like to go over to Europe and try to get my feet wet over there. We'll see. The IndyCar Series is definitely something I'd like to do, especially the Indy 500. Next year hopefully I can try to run the (Firestone) Freedom 100 to start out, but Indy is definitely on my agenda. It's a different world here at Indy. It's so prestigious, and everyone knows about the Indy 500. It's such a great event. I can only hope to be in it someday."

***

INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES (Drivers who have yet to qualify):

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 17 The Rahal Letterman DAFCA Special): "It's been a crazy last three months. Everyone has been asking me today if there's any pressure being a last-week and reduced program. I haven't felt this relieved in a long time. Finally I am in a car, and I know I'm going to be in the race. I'm in a great team, and there are great people around me. I felt great right away from the first lap. We want to take one step at a time, but right now, I'm really excited and happy."

(About showing speed so early): "When you are driving for Rahal Letterman, you better step on it. They won this race in 2004, and honestly, the car felt great the moment I stepped into it. That makes the job of the driver a lot easier. It's only our first day. Hopefully, we have another dry day tomorrow, so we can prepare for qualifying and just keep the focus on the last lap of a 500-mile race. It's probably the most important race of my life, so I'm very happy with the way things have started."

E.J. VISO (No. 13 PDVSA HVM Racing): "Today we had a productive testing day. We started working on the race setups and longer runs and with traffic and more fuel, and so far things are going pretty well. Our car feels pretty comfortable in traffic, and that's important for this race."

ROBERT DOORNBOS (No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing): "It was good to get back in the car, get back to work. It was horrible watching other drivers play and have fun while I was in my bus. Unfortunately, we had a bad day today. We seemed to be going the wrong direction with the setup a little bit, and I haven't been enjoying driving the car. The wind condition was a bit tricky today, as well. The speed is definitely in the car. This is the same car that we did good things with during Rookie Orientation, and over the next days we proved to be in the top 11. Now we just need to show it again, it's somewhere in the car. We're trying to find the sweet spot for Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We have another day tomorrow. We're going to work hard overnight and should have a good day tomorrow."

NELSON PHILIPPE (No. 00 i drive green HVM Racing): "I'm just really uncomfortable with the car. I've never been so scared in my life. I think when the guys put the car back together - I think something is wrong. They already checked it out, but it feels like something is wrong. And if there is nothing wrong, then I guess I need to get my (act) together. It's just really frustrating. It's very hard. It's the first time in my life and in my racing career that I asked can I please get out of the car. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day. The steering wheel is very light. It feels like I have power steering, which is really bad, because I don't know what the car is doing. And when I actually do feel the car, it's pointing too much, so the rear is getting loose. My fastest lap was 205, and I'm just scared to go faster than that."

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Hemelgarn Johnson): "Today was an interesting day. Our first day was one of the slowest days I believe of the month just in terms of a slippery racetrack. I guess that is good and bad. It is good, because it helps us work on our race setup, but it is bad because we can't really see what we have got for speed. Hopefully the qualifying days will be fast."

MILKA DUNO (No. 23 CITGO/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "We continue to work on the car and make it better. We hoped to go a bit faster today, so I'm a little disappointed. We keep making a lot of changes, and we will try again for tomorrow, and hopefully we will be a little bit faster."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "It was good to be back at the circuit to see the guys and catch up. It was also good to have Davey (Hamilton) get a run in my car and make sure it's good to go for tomorrow if we are allowed out. I feel fine and back to normal now. For the last couple of days, I felt a bit sore and achy, but that's to be expected at that speed and impact. I'm raring to go now, so let me at it. I have to get the all clear tomorrow, and then I'll be ready to go."

TOWNSEND BELL (No. 8 Herbalife-KV Racing Technology): "It was a good day. The team's very strong, and we're happy to have the Herbalife car running pretty respectably on the first day. I'm really thrilled with the general balance that we have. People on this team are great, and that makes it really easy for me to do my job in the car. I think we're going to continue to improve. Things weren't all there, but mostly there, so we just have to continue to tweak it. I hope we can be the 23rd qualifier in terms of being the fastest of the guys left to get in. I think we've got the car to do it. I'm just keeping my head down right now, really just focused on the race setup, and we'll worry about qualifying as we get closer to that day."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 21 Vision Racing): "It was another really frustrating day for the 21 team. We rolled out with the same settings on the 20 car in our backup car, the 21T. Ed (Carpenter) drove the car and confirmed some of the things that I had been reporting to the team. Then I drove the car, and I wasn't satisfied with how it was feeling given some technical issues. We threw a lot of big changes at it today, and those take time to implement, so that's why we only had 22 laps on the day when others were getting in 100 laps or more. The good news is at the end of the day we were able to do a full-throttle, 10-lap run, and the car handled it. We topped out at 218 mph, so we've got a speed gap there that we've got to close, but we'll back at it tomorrow to keep working on it."

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 34 Rexall Edmonton Indy): "We were struggling all day. I don't know if we weren't chasing the track right. There was a lot of wind today. You feel like you're underestimating yourself or second-guessing yourself. Maybe it's a question of confidence. But we didn't have the stability in the back of the car to go around. Then at the end, we made a huge change on the setup, and bang. I had one lap where I did a 219, and that put us in 22nd place. The guys made a really nice change, and then all of the sudden the car went back to where it felt good for me."

STANTON BARRETT (No. 98 CURB/Agajanian/Team 3G Racing): (On practice): "Not too bad. We're just trying a bunch of different stuff with the car. We changed some things over the last three days - geometry, which took a whole different setup than what we running before. We're getting a lot more top speed out of it down the straightaways. The wind was affecting people, and the hot temperature today at the track, and the speeds were down for everybody, and we've seemed to maintain the speeds that we've been running. I think we've picked up a little bit. This morning was really bad from a steering standpoint. We made some good headway and are just trying to piece it together and get it back comfortable with this new geometry and pick some speed up. It's not too bad considering where people were running time-wise today. Just got to try and get a little bit better and try and make some longer runs and get the feeling better, and we'll see where we end up."

(On where he stands in the next three days): "Just keep working on it. Work on setup and get stability and grip and speed. That's all we've been working on in different combinations. We spent the first week in one direction, and we switched that direction over. We had three days off, so we had to learn kind of what it takes. We made a lot of progress today. Just the same things. Try to stay patient and not try and do anything too quick or fast. Go in our steps. Do we have to speed it up a little bit and be a little more aggressive in our changes? We're taking the necessary steps. The guys see some real promise. They work really hard in the off days doing some aero stuff and reducing drag. It made a big difference. I've just got to get the handling back and better, and we'll look to setting a lap on Saturday."

INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES (Drivers who have already qualified):

MARIO MORAES (No. 5 KV Racing Technology/Votorantim): "It was a really good day. The car is really good in qualifying setup, and now it's very good in race setup. The team has just been doing a really good job. As a team, everyone is working on one thing together. Townsend (Bell) is doing a great job. He was in the top 10. At the end of the week, we're going to put everything together and get one solid race car for everyone."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske): "We worked on the balance of the Team Penske car today. We tried a few long stints to see how the car runs on full tanks. We also looked at how the balance shifts when the tires wear down through the run and how close we can stay to each other in dirty air. That's what today was all about, and I think the car is really strong, and it's very fast. We'll take the next couple days to keep working on it, and we should definitely be ready for Race Day."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): "We ran a lot of laps and took advantage of the great weather today. It was a good day for Team Penske. We turned in the second- and third-fastest laps of the day. I certainly feel like we are heading in the right direction. We still have to work hard like everyone else, but I am very pleased with the overall performance of today's practice."

***

A total of 48 cars are currently at the Speedway and have passed technical inspection. Thirty-four drivers have been on the track to date and turned 1,937 laps today and 7,562 laps this month. Raphael Matos turned 85 laps today and has turned 334 laps this month, most of any driver. There were two cautions today for a total of 19 minutes.

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FRIDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
8 a.m. Garages open
Noon-6 p.m. IndyCar Series practice

-credit: irl

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