ROOKIE MEDEIROS COMPLETES INDIANAPOLIS 500 FIELD INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 21, 2006 -- Brazilian rookie Thiago Medeiros and PDM Racing capped a remarkable recovery since Medeiros crashed Thursday, taking the final spot in the 90th Indianapolis...
ROOKIE MEDEIROS COMPLETES INDIANAPOLIS 500 FIELD
INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 21, 2006 -- Brazilian rookie Thiago Medeiros and PDM Racing capped a remarkable recovery since Medeiros crashed Thursday, taking the final spot in the 90th Indianapolis 500 with less than an hour remaining in Bump Day qualifying May 21.
Medeiros, the 2004 Indy Pro Series champion, qualified with a four-lap average of 215.729 mph to become the 33rd qualifier. It ended a roller-coaster three days for Medeiros and his underdog PDM Racing team, which built Medeiros' car from the ground-up in 48 hours.
"It's the 90th edition, so it's a very special situation to be a part of the history for the rest of our lives," Medeiros said. "I really appreciate those guys' effort. We appreciate everybody's effort, especially overnight, and we're glad to be a part of the history of the Indianapolis 500."
The team built the car with parts and pieces acquired from various teams in and around Gasoline Alley.
"I did not think I was going to have a second chance to put this together," Medeiros said. "After the accident, we did not have a second car. We appreciated the surprise from Fernandez Racing, to let us borrow a spare tub. From there, we built a brand-new car, and those guys put everything together in the last 48 hours. We appreciate everyone's continued effort from all the teams in the garages."
Medeiros survived a Bump Day drama, when Canadian veteran Marty Roth's car made hard contact with the Turn 1 wall late in the day while preparing his Honda-powered Dallara for a qualifying attempt.
"The car was pushing for the whole month," Roth said. "It was still pushing today. We did some changes, and it just didn't work out. We're going to be sitting this one out and hope to be in this next year."
Teams already qualified for the race took advantage of available practice time and ran more than 2,000 laps of practice. WorldPoints Visa Card Pole Award winner Sam Hornish Jr., was involved in a minor accident while practicing in his backup car.
"We were working on the race setup of the Marlboro Team Penske car, and we got stuck behind a few people who slowed down," Hornish said. "I slowed up, too, and when I went back on the gas, the back of the car came out from under me. You know, things like this are a part of racing. I just feel bad for the guys on the team, because they now have a lot of extra work to do.
On this date in 1983, Josele Garza, driver of the #55 National Health Spas/Machinists Union Penske/Cosworth, was fined $500 for driving too fast under the yellow light.
In celebration of the 90th Running of the Indianapolis 500, various personalities associated with "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" will give their favorite "500" memories. Here's today's memory:
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Cheever Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "My favorite Indy memory is simple -- winning the race in 1998. There is nothing like winning the Indianapolis 500 and fortunately I was able to do so."
Did you know?: No driver has won an Indianapolis 500 from the 18th, 23rd, 24th, 26th, 29th. 30th, 31st, 32nd or 33rd starting positions. The pole sitter has won 17 times, most of any starting position. Ray Harroun (1911) and Louis Meyer (1936) each won from 28th, the deepest starting position of any race winner.
Ethanol is presenting $2,500 to the driver who records the fastest lap on five practice days during the Month of May. The "Ethanol Fastest Lap" is presented May 10, 11, 17, 18 and 26. In addition to the ethanol awards, Cholula Hot Sauce awarded $15,000 to Sam Hornish Jr., who completes the Fastest Lap of the Day on May 19.
Selected quotes from today's availability with the front row:
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, WorldPoints Visa Card Pole Award winner): (About his qualifying run): "It was a pretty good for us. We just wanted to go out there and put our run in at the beginning and make sure everything was good with the car. With three runs that they have with the new rules, it makes it very difficult to be out there on the pole." (About the rivalry between Marlboro Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi): "I think everybody kind of looks out there for people that are going to be the ones that have the best opportunity to beat them. Obviously, right now the Ganassi cars are very fast." (Can you win): "I don't know. I know that starting on the pole doesn't mean anything except for a good view of Turn 1. A good view of Turn 1 after 200 laps is what you want. The big thing for me is finishing all 500 miles. I'm not worrying about who wins the race right now. I would love to do that if that's what happens."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualifed second): "This was supposed to be over like a week ago, but now we can concentrate on the race full time, and hopefully, we'll be there this year. (About the rivalry between Marlboro Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi): Right now, we're just happy for both cars, you know? The Marlboro Team Penske cars are on the front row. That's probably the first time since 1990. So it's been a long time since both cars were on the front row. Both teams have a great atmosphere. Both teams are extremely strong. Sam was having such a good month that I thought I'd give him a little hard time yesterday, but there was no way. Now we will have to keep working on the car obviously and hopefully next Sunday we will be there at the end."
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified third): "Target Chip Ganassi Racing is a very strong organization, and we believe we have the cars that can compete for race wins, and certainly, I think the first three races proved that. This is one (race) I'm certainly very passionate about, and obviously, the team are, too. This is the deal, the end-all, and unfortunately we haven't been able to match Marlboro Team Penske's pace, and I, obviously, want to congratulate them on a 1-2 because this is an incredibly hard track to qualify on the pole, and with your teammate on, too. So it's been a great month. We definitely were a couple of steps back in qualifying, but we do believe we're more competitive with them in terms of race pace. We're just looking forward to the race. We've just got to do the best that we can do." (About what he wants to do): "For me, personally, I want to tag along with Sam. He's been very quick all month, and I'm sure that's what Helio wants to do. It's certainly the first couple of things I'd like to keep in mind what they do, how they are in traffic, and how quick they are out on their own. And I want to see how the fuel comes into play, but the racers have been so fast this year that I think pretty much everyone's been flat out. Just for me to get up here, as well, that's how good my car is and how well I react in traffic and to see the face of it, to see what changes we need to make to make it better for the end of the race. (About the rivalry between the Marlboro Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "It just happens to be that the Ganassi cars and the Penske cars are the ones up front in certainly these four races. I think what's good about having these two teams as the top two teams is the respect that both our teams have for one another. I think the rivalry is good, but what makes this one pretty special is it's very respectful and it will remain that way." (The different feeling compared to this day last year): "It was very frustrating la st year because with Honda we definitely had a dominant engine, and there was no doubt about it. When you look back and you see and you hear the numbers that we had, I do feel that we really had a chance for the pole. And for whatever reason it just turned out to be terrible. We were 16th. It was just frustrating when you know the speed you have in the car but you don't know." (How do you feel about this year?): "Coming in this year, there's been limited track time, and we have been a couple of steps behind. I'm not sure we had the speed to beat Sam, but I felt that we had the speed to be quicker. We need to get better. It's kind of disappointing, but in terms of the race car, I feel that we've still got little bit of work we need to do. We need to fine-tune it today. It's not too bad. When you start up front, you're in a little bit of a better position, but this way anything can happen. You can have the fastest car- I don't think I had the fastest car last year, and I still won the race. You've got to have a combination of everything."
Recording artist Scott Stapp, the former lead singer of Creed, waved the green flag to open today's session.
SCOTT STAPP: "It was exciting. You've got an Andretti out there to get things started. Michael (Andretti) was getting the car all souped up, and it sounded like a jet plane when he went by. It was pretty loud. The adrenaline starts pumping, and it was just really cool to be out there." (About his first trip to the Speedway): "This is my first trip to the Speedway. It's really exciting because I got to bring my son, and my wife is on her way over, so it's just really cool." (About the Pace Car ride): "It was cool. It was neat to see how the guys take the car up high and bring it down low and dive into the corners. It was a great experience."
Among those building the PDM car since Friday for rookie Thiago Medeiros was Rev. Glenn O'Connor, a Roman Catholic priest who works as a part-time Catholic chaplain with IRL Ministries. O'Connor said he has worked with the team for approximately the last 10 years. He celebrated Mass this morning in the Trackside Conference Room and then returned to the PDM garage to work on the car. O'Connor is the pastor at St. Joseph's Church in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis 500 veteran Tyce Carlson has been in the garages this weekend, looking for a ride for the Indianapolis 500. While he hasn't achieved that goal yet, it appears he may have secured a ride for the Freedom 100 Indy Pro Series race this Friday on Miller Lite Carb Day.
TYCE CARLSON: "Actually, I think we have finalized a (Indy) Pro Series deal for the Freedom 100 with Steve Eppard and Jim Immke. We are putting together partners on the deal. We are really concentrating on 2007. Maybe the Pro Series will be a way for me to get back in the car, get my feel back and get ready for next year." (About his goal for 2007): "We've got a lot of good people coming in this weekend for the '500,' so we are going to try to court them for sponsorship for next year for the big car."
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and the Marlboro Team Penske crew helped an Atlanta man propose marriage this morning at the team's garage.
Stephen Flatt decided Saturday that he was going propose to his girlfriend, Lynnette Counts, outside of Castroneves' garage on Bump Day. He suggested to the Marlboro Team Penske crew the idea of Castroneves helping him propose. Castroneves and the crew agreed to help, creating a plan in which Flatt and Counts were to wait outside the garage for an autograph from Castroneves -- Counts' favorite driver -- today.
The couple made their way to the garage this morning and waited on Castroneves. Once Castroneves appeared and signed the autograph, Flatt turned to his girlfriend and asked her to marry him. Before she could say yes, Castroneves said, "Why don't you say yes?" Counts took Castroneves' advice and accepted the proposal.
STEPHEN FLATT: "Helio is definitely her favorite. When I kind of hatched this plan yesterday, the Penske guys were eager to do it. Adam (Hoover, Penske PR representative) and Helio were eager to do it. I couldn't think of a better driver to do it. He's got the greatest attitude out here. I felt he could have some fun with it. With that being her number-one driver, it was perfect. It is going to make the trip very memorable one. Last year was our first time to Indy. This isn't bad for a second time around. She's a big fan now, that's for sure."
LYNNETTE COUNTS: (Did you expect the proposal?): "Not at all. I know he can be kind of sneaky, but this was perfect. I'll be here every year."
Helio Castroneves is wearing a plain, white helmet today in practice instead of his usual red-and-black paint scheme, as he is experimenting with a helmet with different aerodynamic characteristics than his regular helmet.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: "We look at every detail, and this is a very small detail. I didn't want to try it in qualifying, so we're trying it today."
U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) presided over the annual Armed Forces induction ceremony in front of the Bombardier Pagoda this morning on Armed Forces Day at the Speedway. IMS Chief Executive Officer Tony George also spoke at the ceremony.
RICHARD LUGAR: (Remarks during ceremony): "I come to tell you that the future is bright for this world. When American patriotism is at the forefront and when it is clear to the world that we are committed, we are prepared to use foresight and the uses of our energy and our talent. I thank each one of you for joining once again this great armed services celebration in the state of Indiana. It exemplifies the very best of America." (About recruits): "I visited with each one of them. They are solid people who know what they are doing. They've made a commitment to this country. I am proud of them." (About tradition of today's event at IMS, which started in 1981): "It came about because a far-sighted gentleman, Tony Hulman, knew this was important for the volunteer effort. He boosted all of our volunteer forces this way." (About the commitment of the recruits): "We salute them for their service, their courage, (and) their thoughtfulness to all of us."
TONY GEORGE: (Remarks during ceremony): "We are very proud of you and wish you all the best. Today's ceremony is one of the proud traditions we have here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. A week from today, you'll see the 90th Running of the Indianapolis 500. It is a very special anniversary for us. Since our first race in 1911, Memorial Day weekend has been the time for the running of this race, and it is with significance. Our family is proud to be a part of this special tradition honoring the men and women, past and present, who have defended our country. While we have the largest crowd in all of sports here next Sunday, we have the very special viewing audience at Camp Victory in Baghdad, where active-duty soldiers will be watching the race live beginning at 9 p.m. in Baghdad on American Forces Radio and Television Network linked to them through ABC television broadcast. This weekend, the enlistment service performed by Senator Lugar is an important part of what we do and what we are all about. Thank you, Senator. As always, it was a pleasure spending this morning with you. We look forward being a part of this tradition that was started 26 years ago. We thank you for your long service to our city, our state and to this country. To all of you, the new recruits here today, and to all who served for our country: Thank you, and may God bless each and every one of you."
Indianapolis-area auto racing writer Dave Argabright recently finished collaborating with legendary National Speed Sport News editor and publisher emeritus Chris Economaki on Economaki's autobiography, "Let 'Em All Go."
Economaki is the dean of American motorsports journalism, having served as editor of National Speed Sport News since 1950 and working as a reporter during televised auto racing broadcast for many years.
Economaki and Argabright are participating in book signings around the Indianapolis area leading up to Race Day for the 90th Indianapolis 500. For information on the book and to place an order, log on to www.daveargabright.com or call (317) 631-0437.
DAVE ARGABRIGHT: "Walking here at Indy with Chris (Economaki) reminds me really of his presence in this sport. You can't go 5 feet without somebody stopping to talk to him, asking him questions, giving him (news) tips, inside information and so on. It was an exciting process. I always felt like Chris' stories and memories really needed to be recorded on paper, and while we were doing it, it was exciting knowing that we were really accomplishing something. I really do believe this is a book that was 65 years in the making, or I guess, 85 years in the making. So it was really fun; I learned a whole lot about racing and about Chris that I did not know. When you listen to him tell what happened in 1955, you understand 2006 a lot better because he can pinpoint the pivotal events in auto racing that led us to where we are today. To me, it was like a great eye-opening experience to really, really understand this sport." (What is it that you want people to get out of this book -- not only about Chris' life, but racing as a whole?): "What I hope people gain is a renewed appreciation in auto racing, and how complex and dynamic and interesting of a sport it really is, with so many fascinating characters down through the years. Every one of them left a mark, so to speak, and shaped us like a sculpture. This is why we look why we do today, because of all these people Chris interacted with through the years -- the owners and shakers, and major players -- understanding the impact they had on the sport. I just have a much greater appreciation for what this sport is thanks to Chris' story."
The Indianapolis 500 was featured Thursday, May 18 on the television show "Getaway" on the Nine network in Australia. "Getaway" has been on the air since 1992 and is Australia's longest-running and most popular travel program. It is seen weekly by more than 2 million viewers.
Galen "Mut" Mutzner, 80, is making his annual trek to Indianapolis this weekend for qualifications. Mutzner, from Sonora, Calif., has sat in Section 1 of Grandstand E nearly every time he has come to IMS for the Indianapolis 500 qualifications. He has made the trip for the last 39 consecutive years. Mutzner is easily recognizable due to his western wear, including a cowboy hat, bandanna around his neck and shiny belt buckle.
GALEN "MUT" MUTZNER: "I first came with some friends that came over and wanted to go to the track one year, it was about '48, probably. We just lived over in Ohio then, it wasn't too far to come over. We stayed for the race in '58 and still keep coming back. I've been coming for 39 straight years. I've been in the same section almost every year I've come here. We have a group who all just started to sit in the same spot and have a good time. We have some people who come in from as far as Cincinnati. I always have a cold beer and a hot dog. I stay downtown and take the bus over to the track. I enjoy going to St. Elmo's and Dunaway's when I'm here. I always take a carriage ride with my friend Lou. She drives for Yellow Rose, one of the original carriages." (About his favorite Indy 500 drivers): "Jim Hurtubise and, of course, Parnelli Jones for a long time, then Lloyd Ruby. I've rooted for both of them. They should have both crossed the finish line at the same time, that's for sure. That would have been great; something like that would have shocked everybody." (Favorite for this year's race?): "Danica Patrick. You'd better believe it." (About his favorite memories of Indy): "I think most of it is that I have fun every year I come, so every year is a good memory. It has been wonderful to meet the people I've met." (About watching the race): "I go home for the race. I'll be leaving Tuesday. It's the same thing every year. The only time I stayed was the year after Parnelli Jones had the turbine. The next year it was all rained out, and I stayed for the parade and the race, but that was the last time I stayed for the race." (Why qualifications rather than Race Day?): "Well, you can keep an eye on one guy or one girl at a time. You always get a tear in your eye or your heart feels heavy when they start the ceremony for Race Day. I watch the race on TV and listen to it on the radio. When something exciting happens, I can watch it on the television." (About the cowboy hat): "I've worn a Stetson and long-sleeved shirts alw ays. You'd be surprised. People smile, they turn around and look at you. Somebody's always looking at you, and you get along just great with them."
Lucie Mays-Sulewski, the 2006 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon women's division winner, returned to the Speedway today as a guest of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mays-Sulewski, a resident of Westfield, Ind., rode in a Pace Car with Davey Hamilton:
LUCIE MAYS-SULEWSKI: "It was fabulous. I got to ride up front with Davey, and it was just great. It went a lot faster than (running) out here a couple weeks ago. It was great to be asked to come out and do this."
The No. 52 Cheever Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone driven by Max Papis will have sponsorship from sports-themed hair-cutting franchise Sport Clips for the 90th Indianapolis 500.
MAX PAPIS: "It's a great effort because Sport Clips is used to NASCAR. They're used to sponsoring a car in that kind of form, not in open wheel. So this is their first experience in open wheel, their first experience at the Indy 500, and I'm looking forward to welcoming the president and CEO here next Saturday."
GORDON LOGAN (Founder and CEO, Sport Clips): "Sport Clips is excited to be represented in the Indy 500 by Eddie Cheever Racing and Max Papis. We have always looked for first-class teams and drivers to represent Sport Clips, and this is a winning combination. Our 200-plus franchisees and 3,500 stylists are looking forward to seeing the Sport Clips car in Victory Circle. Max will look great with a milk mustache."
Marco Andretti will receive the Fastest Rookie of the Year Award on Tuesday, May 23, from the American Dairy Association. He joins his father, Michael, as the first father-son winners in the 32-year history of the award presented to the fastest rookie qualifier for the Indianapolis 500. Michael Andretti was the fastest rookie qualifier in 1984.
Mario Andretti, Marco's grandfather and Michael's father, was the fastest rookie qualifier in 1965, before the award was presented.
Marco Andretti qualified ninth at 224.918 mph in the No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Andretti, 19, will receive a $5,000 cash award and a plaque, and his name will be engraved on the American Dairy Association's Fastest Rookie trophy on permanent display at the Speedway's Hall of Fame Museum.
BUMP DAY QUALIFYING-90th INDIANAPOLIS 500 FIELD NOTES
* Marco and Michael Andretti will become the 20th father-and-son combination to have raced in the Indianapolis 500 and the fourth father-son duo to race in the same event.
* There are six former Indianapolis 500 winners in the starting field: Al Unser Jr. (1992 and 1994), Buddy Lazier (1996), Eddie Cheever Jr. (1998), Helio Castroneves (2001-02), Buddy Rice (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005). Between them, they have eight victories. The record is 10, in 1992. The fewest, other than the inaugural race in 1911, is one in 1996, Arie Luyendyk.
* There are five rookies in the field, the fewest since 1999, when there were four rookies. This year's rookies: Marco Andretti, Townsend Bell, P.J. Chesson, Arie Luyendyk Jr., and Thiago Medeiros. There were six rookies in 2005 and 2001, seven in 2000, eight rookies in 2004 and nine each in 2002 and 2003.
* Al Unser Jr. is the most experienced driver in the field, with 17 previous Indianapolis 500 starts. The record is 35, set in consecutive years from 1958-92 by A.J. Foyt.
* Michael Andretti has led 426 career laps in the Indianapolis 500, more than any other driver in this year's field.
* There are a combined 138 previous Indianapolis 500 starts among the 33 drivers in this year's field. The record is 260 years of experience, set in 1987 and 1992. There were 93 years of combined experience in last year's field.
* The oldest qualifier is Eddie Cheever, 48. The youngest qualifier is Marco, who turned 19 on March 13.
* There are 10 Panoz chassis and 23 Dallara chassis in the field
* Andretti Green Racing qualified five cars, most of any team, and the most since Team Scandia qualified five cars in 1997.
* There are six graduates of the Indy Pro Series in the field, the most graduates in the field ever. The six graduates are: Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, P.J. Chesson, Jeff Simmons, Arie Luyendyk Jr., and Thiago Medeiros.
Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt decided not to make a qualification attempt with the No. 48 Panoz/Honda/Firestone and driver Ryan Briscoe today despite preparing the car for an attempt. Foyt called Briscoe at his Indianapolis home today as Briscoe was watching television and asked him to come to the Speedway for a possible attempt.
A chronology of events:
4:42 p.m. Car #48 towed to pit lane.
4:49 p.m. Ryan Briscoe has passed physical at Clarian Medical Center.
4:55 p.m. Briscoe in driver's suit in A.J. Foyt Racing garage.
5:08 p.m. Briscoe drives golf cart to A.J. Foyt Racing pit.
5:50 p.m. Briscoe leaves Foyt pit on golf cart.
RYAN BRISCOE: (During final moments of Bump Day qualifying): "Before I go out to qualify the car, I really need at least two laps to get up to speed and feel comfortable with the car. I've never driven the car before, and time is ticking away. It's not looking too good." (About receiving call from A.J. Foyt): "I wasn't 100 percent sure that the situation was a good one just to get in the field, and I've been hearing that the car was set up quite well. I don't think it was going to be too difficult to get up to speed." (After qualifying ended, about his emotions): "I haven't even really had time to get excited. But, a little bit of disappointment, yeah. I was home watching the CART race when I got the call. We were already against the wall, and with the (Marty Roth) accident coming when we were getting ready to go out, it just took us out of time. It's disappointing, but when things are put together at this late stage, these things happen. I wasn't expecting to get this. I was ready to come out and do it. I mean, this is an amazing event, and I had a good race last year. I was looking forward to doing it again, but there will be another day for that."
A.J. FOYT: "We were just working on our main car, more than anything, and the crew was out there with it. Larry (Foyt) shook down the car earlier this month, right at 216, and we put a motor in it and was planning on it and we just kind of run out of time right there." (About Ryan Briscoe): "He's very good. They'd have had to finally beat him before the day was over with."
The next on-track activity is Thursday, when preparations for the Freedom 100 begin. The next track activity day is Wednesday, which is American Family Insurance 500 Festival Community Day.
The 2006 IRL IndyCar Series continues with the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 at 1 p.m. (EDT) on May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. ABC will broadcast the race live beginning at noon (EDT). A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. Live coverage on the IMS Radio Network begins at noon (EDT). The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Freedom 100 at 12:30 p.m. on May 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2's Carb Day coverage on May 26. Live coverage on the IMS Radio Network begins at 12:15 p.m. (EDT).