DIXON LEADS FINAL PRACTICE; BRISCOE TAKES PIT STOP CONTEST; NEWGARDEN WINS FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100
INDIANAPOLIS - Scott Dixon hopes Miller Lite Carb Day is again a good indication of Indianapolis 500 Race Day.
Dixon, who will start the 2010 Indianapolis 500 from the middle of the front row, topped the speed chart for the final practice session, the final opportunity for teams to fine-tune their cars before Race Day.
Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, topped the speed chart with a quick lap of 225.474 mph and was the only driver over 225 mph. Pole sitter Alex Tagliani (224.739 mph) and defending race winner Dario Franchitti (224.658 mph) were right behind. Franchitti led the final practice in 2010 before winning the race.
Every day we were out there, and we were strong. So it's been a pleasure for me to drive a very competitive car.
Ryan Briscoe hopes that winning the IZOD Indy 500 Pit Stop Competition could be a good omen for him.
Briscoe, driving the No. 6 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, defeated Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the championship round. His pit crew received the $50,000 first prize for its speed and accuracy.
The winner of the competition has gone on to win the Indianapolis 500 six times, most recently with Team Penske's Helio Castroneves in 2009. Penske Racing teams have won the pit stop competition a record 13 times, including the last six times that it has been contested.
Also on Miller Lite Carb Day, Josef Newgarden led a Sam Schmidt Motorsports 1-2 finish in the Firestone Freedom 100 beating his teammate Esteban Guerrieri.
The victory for Newgarden, driving the No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo-Pong/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, gave team owner Sam Schmidt his sixth win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in nine Firestone Freedom 100 starts.
Newgarden was the first American winner of the Freedom 100 since Ed Carpenter won the inaugural race in 2003 and leads Guerrieri in the point standings by 26 points (151-125). Victor Garcia finished third in the No. 22 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling car.
Staind and Papa Roach headlined a concert to conclude the busy day.
INDIANAPOLIS 500 FINAL PRACTICE QUOTES:
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "Yeah, it was an amazing week that we had last week. We're really fortunate that we rolled the car off the trailer fast. The team has done a great job to fine-tune it. Every day we were out there, and we were strong. So it's been a pleasure for me to drive a very competitive car. Today it was nice to be back on track. Obviously, we have a very different car that we're going to drive in the race. And I feel the car is very racey. I love it in traffic. It got some consistency out of the car on the older tires. So I don't know. It seems to me to be unreal and too good to be true sometimes. But I want to think that we deserve it. We did everything better than everyone else, and hopefully it will continue. All winter long, the team fine-tuned the car. They just put their love into it, brought it back this year. Same car, same aerodynamic package, same track, and the car did better. So Penske and Ganassi have done that 10 years in a row. They have done the particular program that we have done for one race 10 years in row: Have a good car and keep improving it every year. And we're trying to close the gap in a year and a half. It's not an easy task." (How will you feel leading this race in the first turn on the first lap for the first time?): "A very high heart rate. I've been very appreciative of what's happened to me as a driver. But what we don't want to forget is that we have the chance to participate in a historical event. And to just have the chance to qualify in it is already a big thing. Leading the field, I think it's going to be something I'll remember for the rest of my life."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "It's more of just a systems check. The car's obviously been in a million pieces since we last drove them. It's just to make sure they're all functioning. We came in and did a few pit stops. Because of the lack of on-track time that we've had, we made a few changes. We tried some dampers, aero downforce levels, things like that. It's obviously very cold and probably not very close or in line with what we're going to run in on Sunday. All in all, it was pretty decent. The car was good. There was loads of traffic. There was lots of action going on out there with people speeding up and slowing down. It was pretty good for both Target cars." (You're a champion and you're on a defending team, but this Tagliani guy just won't go away). "Yeah, it's good. Tag has done a hell of a job this month. It's good to see that it's been working so well. You know, you're never going to know until you get to the race. He's a good friend, and I'm definitely proud to see what he's achieved, obviously, with a start-up team and to be able to mix it up with the big teams."
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 Herbalife Schmidt Pelfrey Racing): "The car feels great. We still have a few little adjustments we want to do, but overall it felt really good. We were pretty racey out there. Now we start thinking about how we want to race and see what we learned from that last run and keeping an eye on the weather."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "We can always learn something from today. It will be a lot different on Sunday. We think we know how to turn the car around for those conditions. It will be a tough race. I think there is less grip than last year, and that's going to make it really interesting. The slower speed (start and restarts) will be better. We may be going 190 into the first turn on the start. Turn 2 will be Turn 1 speed from years past. Restarts, I still don't agree with side-by-side, I think we're just asking for a bit of marbles. Whatever happens will be interesting, it will be slick and interesting. Dixie (Scott Dixon) looks strong. He's going to be tough. We're pretty strong, but just like the month I had last year, he (Dixon) has been on a rail all month. I followed (Alex) Tagliani, and he looks pretty average in traffic. But when he gets off the corner, he really goes. He will be plenty tough to beat. There are a bunch of people you just know who will be there (challenging for the win). (Dan) Wheldon will contend, the Penske cars will be strong, and there will be others. It's wide open."
BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 30 The RACB/Aspria RLL Special): "It was a short session for us to see if everything was OK with the car, but we couldn't work on much because the conditions will be so different on Sunday. We did some running in traffic, and the car felt good. The Firestone tires gave me great grip and performance today and helped to boost our confidence for the race."
Great job to Ryan and the No. 6 IZOD team on winning the Pit Stop Competition.
JAY HOWARD (No. 88 Service Central Schmidt-RLL Racing): "This is the first time that I have run full tanks in this car, and I was very happy with the way the car handled. We are still looking for a little balance on the car, but we got some good information and we should be able to make the necessary adjustments to be good in the race. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan guys have been working very hard all month to get this Service Central car toward the front of the grid, and I am confident that we will have a good car on Sunday."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): "Everything's going well from our perspective. The car felt really good today, and it was important for me as a rookie to get out there and run in traffic a little bit. The entire month has gone really well in the National Guard car, and it's been such a huge help for myself personally, but also for the team, to have Buddy Rice around. We feel good going into Race Day, and I know everybody here is pumped for Sunday to get here."
BUDDY RICE (No. 44 Fuzzy's Vodka/Panther Racing): "It's all good. I just have to thank John Barnes and everybody at Panther Racing for giving me this opportunity, and having Fuzzy's Vodka come on board when they did has been a big help to our program. Panther has a great oval program, and their history here at Indianapolis speaks for itself so we feel really good about how the entire month has gone."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy): "I really feel like the practice hour was good for the GoDaddy car. I wish we could have got some more laps in, but I was happy. I think it was a productive session. I feel confident in myself and the crew to have a strong finish on race day."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 41ABC Supply/DHL/Sun Drop): "It felt really good. Both teams did a great job preparing it. I went out, was flat right away, running in traffic, was happy with it and am the highest (on the speed chart) we've been all month. It's not the way we wanted to do it. This isn't the way we wanted to get here. I wish Bruno (Junqueira) was here today, but that's not the case and we've got to get on with the job. The guys did a great job - both the Foyt and Andretti guys - did a great job. To get me in a car I've never driven and for it to run like that is just excellent work by both teams. Thanks to the boys on the crew."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): "The Venom car was very comfortable today, but I'd still like a more speed. We're still just a bit too slow. But 500 miles is a long time and a lot can happen - we'll do whatever we can to work our way to the front on Sunday."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske): "It was a good practice for the Shell-Pennzoil car today, I am very optimistic about our chances in the race. I'm so excited and I can't wait for the green flag to wave on Sunday. I am little sad that our run of pit stop competition victories came to end, but it had to end sometime. It is great that Ryan's crew was able to bring home the victory for Team Penske and I'm glad because winning the pit stop competition is a great way for him to turn around what has been a tough week for him."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Team Window World): "We were really happy with the Window World car today. The guys had it in pieces at the shop just a few days ago getting it prepped for this weekend, and today when I got in, it was just as comfortable as before. They've done a great job and today we feel confident with our practice. I'm looking forward to getting out on track again on Sunday for the big show."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): " "Great job to Ryan and the No. 6 IZOD team on winning the Pit Stop Competition. The Verizon guys gave it a good go, we just didn't make it to the end. We had a good practice today - the car had a nice balance and we should be good in the race. Now we will just have to wait for the green flag and see what comes our way."