The last day to tweak setups and prepare for this year's running of the Indianapolis 500 was marred by rain interruption. No one in IndyCar ran more than ten laps around the 2.5-mile oval as most of practice was a wash. Most cars just turned ...
The last day to tweak setups and prepare for this year's running of the Indianapolis 500 was marred by rain interruption. No one in IndyCar ran more than ten laps around the 2.5-mile oval as most of practice was a wash. Most cars just turned installation laps and the only car not to get on track was Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske.
The Indianapolis weather is notoriously fickle, but rain had surprisingly held off from hitting the area until today. To have a week devoid of the wet stuff is a rare treat, and for four days this week it stayed clear. Unfortunately, not the fifth.
It was a trying day for IndyCar President of Competition Brian Barnhart and Speedway Chief Operating Officer Joie Chitwood, who made tireless efforts to get the track dried. But at 4:15 PM ET, they called it off. The Indy Lights race scheduled for today afternoon was moved to 12:10 PM ET tomorrow, following the public driver's meeting. The McDonald's Pit Stop Challenge was canceled altogether, a shame for both fans and participants.
Many fans at least attempted to make the best of the situation. Perusing the grounds, fans huddled under covered areas and enjoyed certain beverages. It was "Miller Lite Carb Day" after all and the day's concert, featuring the Stone Temple Pilots, still ran as scheduled.
For what it was worth, the Target Chip Ganassi boys were again one-two, this time Dan Wheldon leading Scott Dixon, each over 223 mph. Vitor Meira, who's had a strong month for Panther Racing as he searches for his elusive first victory, came next up a tenth of a second adrift of Dixon, with Tony Kanaan and John Andretti completing the top five. No practice laps were turned after the initial session during the morning.
Off track there were several major announcements. Honda affirmed their commitment to the series for the next five seasons, stretching through the Centennial of the Speedway to 2013. "With the unification and the upcoming centennial, we have a great opportunity to launch into this second century of open-wheel racing with a bang," HPD President Erik Berkman said.
Honda also noted their intentions to see competition return to the series amongst engine manufacturers. A roundtable of manufacturer executives will assemble at the Speedway in late June to commiserate on ideas for the new technical package.
The people that make the cars go, the mechanics, were honored today with the announcement of the True Grit Winner, an award founded in 1998 by C&R Racing Inc President and Owner Chris Paulsen. This year's recipients are the mechanics at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
Justin Wilson's chief mechanic Tim Coffeen, tire specialist Tim Homburg, and team manager John Tzouanakis, will accept the award. It has been a trying month for the team after the untimely death of former crew member Davey Evans, but they have persevered as the team has been together for over 20 years.
On another note, last night the Speedway announced their upcoming plans for the centennial. A new logo for the track combines elements from 1909, 1934 and 1961 to create the iconic wings with a tire and winner's wreath the main focus. As Chitwood described it, "If Walt Disney can celebrate a birthday over five years, we can certainly celebrate a centennial over three."
Also involved in the ambitious plans are potential hot air balloon and vintage races, though specifics were lacking, as well as a new exit off I-465 that will replace the Crawfordsville Street exit. The latter undertaking is intended to be a $100 million project.
The event was held at the spectacular Allison Mansion located on the grounds of Marian College, complete with actors portraying the major names from the inaugural race here in 1909. Among those in attendance included Speedway President Mari Hulman George and the iconic Jim Nabors, who returns to the track to sing "Back Home Again in Indiana" after a year's hiatus.