IRL: Indy 500: Day three news and notes

MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE LEADS OPENING DAY OF FULL PRACTICE FOR 90th INDIANAPOLIS 500 INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, May 9, 2006 -- Marlboro Team Penske teammates Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves topped the speed charts - in their backup cars - in the...

MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE LEADS OPENING DAY OF FULL PRACTICE FOR 90th INDIANAPOLIS 500

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, May 9, 2006 -- Marlboro Team Penske teammates Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves topped the speed charts - in their backup cars - in the first day of practice for all cars for the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500. Later, they went out and posted the fifth- and sixth-quickest laps of the day in their primary cars.

After practice opened at noon, Hornish, a two-time IndyCar Series champion, needed just eight laps on the 2.5-mile oval to post the day's quickest lap of 40.0336 seconds, 224.811 mph in his No. 3T Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Castroneves, a two-time Indy 500 winner, needed 10 laps to post the second-quickest lap - 40.1595, 224.106.

After taking the engine out of the backup cars and putting them into the primary cars, the teammates returned to the track. Hornish posted a lap of 40.2294, 223.797 on his 16th trip around the circuit. Castroneves had a lap of 40.2887, 223.388 on lap 15.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon were third- and fourth-quick on the day. Wheldon, the defending Indianapolis 500 champion, was third at 223.916. Dixon (223.797) was fourth.

Vision Racing's Tomas Scheckter (223.183), Rahal Letterman Racing's Buddy Rice (222.762), Delphi Fernandez Racing's Scott Sharp (222.752) and Vision Racing's Townsend Bell (222.545) rounded out the top 10. Bell was the quickest of three rookies on the track.

Twenty-four drivers completed 989 laps in a day that was shortened by 50 minutes due to rain.

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POST-PRACTICE NOTES:

On this date in 1978, PPG Industries announces that all 33 starters and pace car driver Chuck Yeager will receive a gold ring with a green stone signifying the starting flag and their participation in the Indianapolis 500.

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In celebration of the 90th Running of the Indianapolis 500, various personalities associated with the "Greatest Spectacle of Racing" will give their favorite 500 memories. Here's today's memory.

ED CARPENTER (Driver, Vision Racing): "I don't remember the years it happened, but I remember the year when Juan Pablo Montoya won (2000). Buddy (Lazier) was quicker than him and would run him down, but when he would come into the pits, Juan would beat him big time. Buddy would run him back down. That was a pretty cool race to watch. I also remember the year that Emmo (Emerson Fittipaldi) put Little Al (Unser Jr.) in the wall (1989). I was mad about that."

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Did you know?: Sixteen (16) brother combinations have started the Indianapolis 500, including Buddy and Jaques Lazier, who are entered in this year's 500. Only two (2) brother combinations have led the Indianapolis 500, Louis and Gaston Chevrolet and Al and Bobby Unser.

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Ethanol will present $2,500 to the driver who records the fastest lap on five practice days during the Month of May. The "Ethanol Fastest Lap" will be presented on May 10, 11, 17, 18 and 26. In addition to the ethanol awards, Cholula Hot Sauce will award $7,500 to the driver who completes the Fastest Lap of the Day on May 12 and May 19.

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Firestone produced nearly 5,000 Firehawk racing radials for use throughout the month of May. All were built at the Firestone Technical Center in Akron, Ohio. At the direction of IRL officials, each entry competing all month will receive 35 sets of Firehawks (140 total tires), to be used at the team's discretion throughout the practice, qualifying and race sessions. The tire selected for Indianapolis in 2006 features a new compound formula to deliver even better grip and wear. The same specification was successfully utilized in April at the Indy Open Test and the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi.

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Helio Castroneves is the hottest driver in the IRL IndyCar® Series, but if past records are any indication, the Indianapolis 500 may be a struggle for the series points leader.

Castroneves won for the second consecutive time when he claimed the Indy Japan 300 on April 22, but the series points leader has finished in the top 10 at Indianapolis only three times in the previous 10 IndyCar Series races at the Brickyard.

Dan Wheldon, who has led the points entering the last two 500s, is one of the two points leaders to finish in the top 10, finishing third in 2004 and winning in 2005. Still, the average finishing position for the points leader entering the race at Indianapolis is only 15th.

However, he could take some solace should he fail to win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. The IndyCar Series points leader entering Indianapolis has gone on to win the IndyCar Series championship five times in the last 10 seasons.

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New England Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin, a native of Indianapolis, visited the Speedway today. Colvin, a graduate of Broad Ripple High School and a former Purdue Boilermaker, rode in an Indy Racing Experience 2-seater this morning after being honored by Broad Ripple High School as its alumnus of the year.

ROSEVELT COLVIN: "That's nothing compared to a fullback. I can smash a fullback. I can't take too many laps (around the track). It was a great experience. I'm honored they invited me out. I had a great time at the high school this morning and this caps off the day." (Do you think you could drive an IndyCar Series car?): "I do. I used to have a motorcycle that went 130 mph. It had a motorcycle sensation, but these guys really have to take care of themselves so they can avoid accidents and go as fast as they do. We went 178 mph. I've never been that fast. Maybe in a plane, but not on a vehicle on the ground."

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Don't count out a driver who is coming into the Indianapolis 500 off a poor finish in the previous event. Three of the previous 10 Indianapolis 500 winners finished 20th or worse in their last race before Indianapolis, while another three did not race in the event prior to the 500.

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This year marks the 20th anniversary of Bobby Rahal's Indianapolis 500 victory as a driver. Rahal has entered cars for 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice, Danica Patrick and Jeff Simmons this year.

BOBBY RAHAL (Co-owner, Rahal Letterman Racing): "It doesn't seem like it has been 20-years until I look in the mirror. I remember it like yesterday. The biggest thing I remember was the joy of helping Jim Trueman realize a lifelong dream. Because of Jim's illness and because the race was delayed a week, there was never really time to savor the victory. It was an incredibly emotional time for everyone at TrueSports and the Trueman family. I didn't fully understand at the time how winning the Indianapolis 500 changes your life. Ever since that victory I have been introduced as an Indy 500 winner. It becomes a defining moment of your life."

POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest driver of the day): "It was a pretty good run. We wanted to make sure we got out with both cars today because we knew that there is a possibility that it might rain later on in the afternoon. And the forecast doesn't look that good for the rest of the week. We wanted to make sure we had a good feeling on both of the cars, and that's all it took with the T car to run that fast. When we got back out with the primary car, we couldn't quite get to that speed, but to have both the cars in the top five and Helio and I 1-2, that's a pretty good day. It's early yet, so we'll just go out there and try and keep our patience, move forward in the right direction and hopefully we'll put Marlboro Team Penske cars on the front row for this year's '500.'" (About the expected pole speed): "I think somewhere in the 228.5 to 229 would probably be pretty good, maybe a little bit quicker than that. It depends on the weather conditions. If we have a nice 70-degree day and no wind, it might be quicker than that."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second-fastest driver): "Everybody is really focused, really working together. Today we showed that good combination. Both cars were fast. I think a lot of people are going to work to continue to go fast. We feel really comfortable, not only today, but also three weeks ago when we tested here. Right now, it's just a matter of getting your rhythm back, getting yourself comfortable, which so far we are, and continue doing a good job." (About how much more speed to expect): "We expect obviously to go much faster, but obviously it's all about the weather, the condition of the track. For example, the T car seemed to be faster than the primary car. Well, why? Obviously, the track changed, cooled down. A lot of things evolve. That's the thing about Indianapolis, it's always changing. So far, we've got a good baseline, but we expect to go faster." (About the plan to use the T car and the primary car): "That was the plan for both groups, myself and Sam. It's just a matter of making sure we prepare as much as we can. Hopefully, we won't need to use it, but at least we did a shakedown, the T car is ready, and now we can work on the primary car."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third-fastest driver): "Right from the start of the day, the No. 10 Target Honda was really fast. I'm really happy with the team's preparations in getting this month going on the right foot. They've given me a fantastic car that's really balanced and fast. We got everything done today that we wanted to, and as a result we have a really good baseline to work with. Now it's going to be a cat-and-mouse game with the weather leading up to qualifying but given the results today, I definitely feel pretty confident as we prepare for Pole Day."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth-fastest driver): "To be honest, it was a little rough going early on, and I felt like there was a lot of room for improvement even if the No. 9 Target Honda seemed pretty quick. The team made some big changes this afternoon to the car, and then it started to feel pretty decent. But then the rain came so we didn't get to run on it quite as much as I would have liked. I think what today reinforced was that our main competition will once again be the two Penske cars. That certainly sets the tone for the next few days."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth-fastest driver): "The day was OK. The car went out and was pretty quick, but it got a little bit windy at the end, so I think like everybody, we set our quickest times early on. We had a bit of a problem with fuel, and we had to change engines, so the guys did a good job today of getting me back out there."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Honda/Firestone, seventh-fastest driver): "It was a good day for us. We weren't too worried at all about trying to go fast today. It was all about trying to work on the basic race car. We ran a decent amount of fuel all day long and just tried to really work on the basics not knowing what the weather is going to do. JD (John Dick, race engineer) and the Delphi guys made some really great changes, and I think we learned some things that made the car better. That is really what you hope for on the first day. This gives us a great starting point for tomorrow or whenever we end up running (due to the weather forecast)."

TOWNSEND BELL (No. 90 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, eighth-fastest driver): "Today was a good day, and I felt more comfortable than yesterday. It was nice to have a night to just sleep on everything, and it was nice to have my two teammates out there today to bounce around some ideas and try different things. We are maximizing the benefit of a three-car team, and that's always nice. So overall, I'm very happy, and we are going to keep chipping away."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 10th-fastest driver): "The whole team got off to a good start. Outside of the Penske T-cars, the whole team is in the top 10, so that's good. I went out on the track and I didn't really get in quite as many laps as I would have liked to, but we got off to a good start and the whole team looked strong, so hopefully we can just keep this going over the next several days." (About gaining more speed): "The speeds we ran today were basically representative of how we unloaded them. When we tested here we developed this car, and this is just a starting point. We definitely have more speed, and now everyone is going to start pulling out their tricks in preparation for Saturday, Pole Day, so it is going to be a fight for that top 11 on Saturday."

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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).

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing