PATRICK PACES FINAL PRACTICE; HORNISH'S TEAM WINS PIT STOP CONTEST INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, May 27, 2005 -- Danica Patrick continues to see her stock rise for the 89th Indianapolis 500. The rookie, who will start fourth (inside of Row 2) in the...
PATRICK PACES FINAL PRACTICE; HORNISH'S TEAM WINS PIT STOP CONTEST
INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, May 27, 2005 -- Danica Patrick continues to see her stock rise for the 89th Indianapolis 500.
The rookie, who will start fourth (inside of Row 2) in the May 29 classic, topped the speed chart for the final practice session, the final opportunity for teams to fine-tune their cars before Race Day.
Patrick, driving the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone, posted a fast lap of 225.597 mph (39.8942 seconds) during the one-hour window on the 2.5-mile oval. She also recorded the fastest overall lap (229.880 mph) of the month on May 15.
MBNA Pole winner Tony Kanaan (225.451 mph) was second, Andretti Green Racing teammate and IndyCar® Series points leader Dan Wheldon third (225.262) and Hornish fourth (225.003).
Buddy Lazier, who qualified ninth, crashed his Chevrolet-powered Dallara early in the session, when his car suffered a mechanical failure. Lazier was uninjured and Panther Racing intended to repair the damage to Lazier's car.
Also on Miller Lite Carb Day, Sam Hornish Jr. hopes that winning the Checkers Rally's Pit Stop Competition on Miller Lite Carb Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a good omen. There is precedent.
Hornish, driving the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, defeated Andretti Green Racing's Bryan Herta in the championship round. His pit crew received the $30,000 first prize for its speed and accuracy.
The winner of the competition has gone on to win the Indianapolis 500 five times, most recently in 2004 (Buddy Rice). Penske Racing teams have won the pit stop competition a record eight times, the last with Helio Castroneves in 2002. The race winner? Castroneves.
Though Hornish stalled the car in the final, it didn't cross the timing line (pit stops were elapsed time). His crew completed the four-tire change and simulated fueling in 8.9704 seconds. The crew for Herta's No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone completed its stop in 9.9170 seconds.
Hornish's crew (8.4064 seconds) advanced to the final by beating the time of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car driven by Scott Dixon (9.3444 seconds). Herta's crew (10.1662 seconds) moved on by defeating the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing team of driver Kenny Brack (no time for not completing pit stop).
Also on Carb Day, Jaime Camara won the Futaba Freedom 100 and the Black Crowes headlined a concert to conclude the busy day.
INDIANAPOLIS 500 FINAL PRACTICE QUOTES
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 95 Panther/Jonathan Byrd's/ESPN 950 AM Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We were just warming up, so I can't tell you what happened. But it's clear; you can see sparks from under the car. I'm coming up to speed, the car was feeling good, and I'm looking forward to having an awesome Race Day, and I entered Turn 4 on my first at-speed lap, and I heard a click, a big snap, and it just took off to the wall."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I wish we could have learned a lot more, that's for sure. The car's not too bad. Too many miles to get the car right. You can't put too many miles on the race car, so we kind of screwed ourselves up."
JEFF BUCKNUM (No. 24 Investment Properties of America Dallara/Honda/Firestone): (About what he learned for race strategy): "Mostly numbers like fuel and stuff like that. That's what we learned out there. A lot of this is mainly for the crew and engineers and the guys doing the calculations during the race. The car is good and is where we want it. I don't have a lot to gauge on because I have never been here, but I think it is good."
JIMMY KITE (No. 91 Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We have a really good race car. It handles good. We'll just have to hook onto that lead draft and let it take us around for a while."
MARTY ROTH (No. 25 Roth Racing/PDM Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Right now, I tell you, I'm just thinking about the (Infiniti Pro Series Futaba Freedom 100) race. We've got some work ahead of us with the car. It's a long race. We'll be able to tweak (the car). You get to adjust these as you go. We've made some changes. We've got to go back on them. It's 500 miles. It's a long race, so we'll see how it goes. My plan is to make that checkered flag."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 48 A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone): "We didn't learn that much. I was just trying to get the balance at first. At the end, I had just two to three laps and just getting up to speed. We couldn't have run any further because of the miles on the motor. So, for sure, (the race) is going to be a tough one. I think it's going to be tough to get away from the Honda cars. They look very strong. We are going to have to be watching the mirror."
RICHIE HEARN (No. 70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Racing Special Panoz/Chevrolet/Firestone): "This is the day I really start to feel it all. We had the drivers' meeting this morning and then the last practice. You see all the people and crowds and you know the big day is close. It's exciting, but it's also important for me to stay focused. I'll go over everything later today with Tim (Neff, engineer) and then the crew will make the final adjustments to the Meijer car for the start of the race."
ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We just did one run to see how the car is. The weather's going to change for Sunday, so we didn't feel the need to do much. We didn't want to put too many miles on this engine. It's a 500-mile race; we'll fine tune it and be ready on Sunday."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Investment Properties of America Panoz/Honda/Firestone): (Do you feel good after practice?): "Pretty much. We had a few problems we didn't expect but we fixed them. I think we're pretty much set for the race." (It has been a while since you've raced; are you ready for 500 miles?): "Oh, yeah. I'm in shape and it's only been about four months. I did a lot of miles in December for Firestone so I feel pretty good."
DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone): "She's (the car) fine. We just sorted out the (engine) mapping for the race, the yellow mapping and fuel mixtures. This is a new engine. Toyota is upgrading the specs every day, it seems. They do a good job, so we needed to get some miles on this engine for the race (and) sort out the mapping. So we were just doing a few in-and-outs, and I was trying to get up to speed coming in and out of the pits. It was good." (The car is handling well in traffic?): "Yeah, that's the main thing. We always have a good car in traffic in race trim. We're pretty happy. Obviously, we don't have the out-and-out speed of some of the quicker guys, but we should be all right on the big track." (You had a little trouble in Turn 2 earlier in the month; do you cringe going through there or is that forgotten?): "Every time, every time. No, it's quite good in race trim because you put a lot of downforce back in the car, and the car's pretty much stuck to the track. In qualifying trim the car gets a bit squirrelly and loose through there."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "If you guys can tell, it's a short runs. We don't want to put more than 15-25 laps on the engine before Race Day, so we kept it safe and I did the 219. I got a feel for the pit in and pit out as best as I could. I was by some slow cars at times, but I'm sure the adrenaline will take me through what I need on Race Day. We weren't trying to come out here and be the fastest, but it's always good to be. It's good for confidence, and it's good to see that your car can do it, especially having downforce on the car now as opposed to qualifying conditions. You hit terminal velocity, and your speed is your speed. I think it's good that we were fastest, and I think there were some people there at the end, trying to go fastest a little bit there at the end and, we still stuck there. I think it's a good thing and a confidence-boosting afternoon for Honda. I ran a majority by myself and that's good for us just to get a reference on where the gears are at. What you need by yourself, I don't like to be running in top gear, sitting on the (rev) limiter thinking, 'I can't go any faster.' So we've got a good idea for that, which we'll change then and in traffic, you know, I noticed a little bit, but mostly by myself, the car felt a little bit different, so when we stopped in the middle there and made an adjustment, it felt a little bit better. That's kind of where we were at with this car, and we stayed right there. When it's happy, it's happy whether I'm feeling it or not." (Can a rookie win this race?): "I think the first thing you need is a good team. You need good strategy, you need good pit stops, you need people with a clear idea of what needs to happen out there. Someone who can be in your ear and keep you calm. I think we have that. I think I have a team with a fast car, and I think that's the first hurdle you have to clear as a rookie. I feel like I've done that. I'm there, and I thank the team for that. As far as a driver, I don't have the ex perience that others have. No doubt. There's tons of things that I have to learn and I will go through, race morning, organizing everything in my head. Those things that you have to keep in mind when you start. When the race gets underway, when you come in for a pit stop. It's a rhythm. There's a lot of stuff going on that you guys probably don't even know inside the car, so you have to keep your mind clear so that you can focus on the things that you have to do that day. I think that, in a long-winded answer, I think it's probably my longest answer ever, do I think a rookie can do it? Yes. Catch a break here and there. Don't make any mistakes. Buddy (Rice) stalled it last year and won, so don't make any mistakes and a rookie can win." (About distractions): "There's nothing you can do really. I don't read all my press. Sorry. I try to relax as much as I can. Try to be with my fiance and family as they're all here from Wednesday on this week, so that's about it really. Other than that, you just have to keep your eyes on the prize and know what you're here for, and I know that I'm here because of what I've done so far and how I've been, how I've acted and conducted myself and the mental attitude I have. So I do my best, and I feel like it's gone pretty good, so I don't change and I don't think anything different and I would try, and I've told this to so many reporters, that I would try just as hard if you guys weren't even here. So that's just me." (About preparations): "It's getting serious here, it's Friday. I've been here all month ramping up for this. But it's always fun. You have to make sure it's fun. If it's not, I don't think you are what you could be. I think that you have to enjoy yourself. I will say, though, there are times that aren't quite so fun. There are times that it gets difficult. There are times that it gets stressful and I have had all of those this month, but overall, yes, if I look back and I say to myself, 'Gosh, I'm not having any fun after, like, three races.' I'd go, 'Hey, what's going on?' I love my job, and I've been asked what I would do other than this and I have no answer, so there you go." (About media attention): "I was told, more than anything I believed, that if I did well, then this kind of thing would happen. Now, the top fold of the USA Today twice, I wasn't expecting that. I worked so hard for the ability to drive for good teams and good sponsors that are always with you and to elevate this series. It's a great series. I remember watching it when I wasn't in it and thinking, 'You know what, they might be driving in circles, but they're good racers and they're racing hard.' I've only gained respect, over the time that I've driven these cars. Especially in race conditions, with the way the air moves you around through the air, so I do it for more than just me."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Carb Day, people make a big deal out of it, and I don't see the reason. We've had all month to prep for this. We just wanted to see if everything was OK. We don't have any leaks or anything, so I'm happy. We're ready. We're ready for the race. It felt good. When it's fast, it's always good."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're fine. Most of the work was done the week before. This is really not a time to be going out there and trying anything even a little bit different. We knew what kind of car we had. We were happy with it. We did a couple of laps and packed it away to make sure it runs good on Race Day. We didn't want to put a lot of laps on the race engine. The car was good, we had no problems, and we ended up in the top five. The Pennzoil Chevrolet guys have done an unbelievable job, and we're just looking forward to the race. What's great, I think, this month is that we brought out the car every time and it's felt very good and very similar, and it's given me a lot of confidence. I think that will help out in the race a lot."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We had some difficulty during today's practice session. We didn't have the speed we were looking for in the ArcaEx car. The balance of the car was very good, so we'll have to look in other areas."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We're happy with the Marlboro Team Penske car. We spent the final practice session making sure the car is mechanically sound. The race is a lot about execution on pit stops, and if we do well in those two areas we should be in good shape."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The final practice session is not the time to take chances with the primary car, so we didn't really run in traffic. Our focus was making sure everything is working well on the Marlboro Team Penske car and taking care of any minor adjustments. The team has worked so hard this month, and I feel we've done everything we can to make sure we're ready. We just need to stay focused and execute on Race Day."
CHECKERS/RALLY'S PIT STOP CHALLENGE PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES:
MATT JONSSON (Chief mechanic, No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It's great for confidence. The guys have been working really hard, especially the last week, trying to customize our stops for this competition. Also, this win gives us a great deal of confidence for the race. Helio (Castroneves) managed to win the race in 2002 after he won this. The pit stops mean a lot here at this track. We're going to try to position Sam into place here somewhere in the top four or five in the last pit stop and hopefully get out there and help him to win this." (How often do your crews do pit stop practice during the week?): "What we try to do generally back in the shop throughout the whole year is we take turns for every other day. Every other day, we do an hour with each team, car No. 3 and car No. 6. Then, obviously at the racetrack, we do every day when we show up here and also get Sam involved. Having Sam coming in hard, leaving hard and getting that timing down gets us ready for the pit stop competition and Race Day."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Today is a day to not let the guys down. I always feel that way, but usually, there's something in it for me when it's Race Day. Today, it's all about these guys and what they do. I'm really proud of the way they have handled themselves, not only today, but all month long. We went from thinking everything was just fine on the Thursday before qualifying to having to thrash and do all kinds of stuff. Not only were these guys getting the primary car ready, but also building up a T-car for us, while still practicing pit stops. These guys are really dedicated. They do an awesome job and today is about showing what they are capable of doing and they did that by winning this." (Is there anything that you can do in the cockpit that helps you prepare for this competition?): "I think that being with this team helps me out a lot because they are as committed as they are. Every day at the end of practice, we would go out there and practice for this pit stop competition. This contest really helps me with hitting my marks and judging the speed to come in at, which is important to me on Race Day just as it is today. It's not always about how fast you get into your pit box, but how you hit your marks. There's always a lot that I can learn because pit stops are very crucial." (About his chances for the Indianapolis 500): "I'm just really excited about this year's race. I think we've got an awesome chance to go out there and finish the 200 laps. That's my goal this year. We were able to start in the top two rows, and I didn't think much about the pit stop competition, but I did think a lot about the race. I think that with the car these guys give me, and the pit stops that they are capable of giving me, we can win this race. It's been a dream of mine for such a long time to win this race that I don't even know how I'd react if we won this thing, but I do know that I can't think of anything better than drinking milk on Sunday afternoon."
ROGER PENSKE (Owner, Marlboro Team Penske): "Well, I think that momentum is everything here. We've had our ups and downs over the years. The pit stop competition is something that we've always challenged our guys on, and today, we had to run head to head with them. One team had an eight-second stop, and the other had an 8.2 (second stop). That shows you how close we are. I take my hat off to Matt (Jonsson) because he's pulled his crew together. We are going to need that same precision, absolutely no mistakes on Sunday, and we can win this race." (About importance of winning the contest): "Well, we're here to try to win. I need to be with these guys for support. I get as nervous as anyone during these things. When the rain came, I didn't know what was going to happen. I guess it's in my DNA that if we're racing, I'm there. I want to be in the game. I want to be driving the car and changing the tires." (What would it mean to walk out of here with another Borg-Warner Trophy?): "Well, I can tell you from my perspective that's why we're here. As far as Sam's concerned, he came on our team, and we said that we were going to try to give him the horse to get him there. He's proven that he's the driver that can win this race. It's a long day. It's 18 holes, I guess, and we have to play every hole."
The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast by ABC at Noon (EDT) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Futaba Freedom 100 on May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast by ESPN2 at 2 p.m. (EDT) on May 27.