Rains continue to dampen Indy preparations

Rains continue to dampen Indy preparations

The rain continues to fall on the 2.5 mile oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana. The weatherman put the brakes on Thursday's planned six-hour practice session with a constant drizzle over the central portion of the...

The rain continues to fall on the 2.5 mile oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana. The weatherman put the brakes on Thursday's planned six-hour practice session with a constant drizzle over the central portion of the Hoosier state. The Speedway officially declared the day done at approximately 1:30pm EDT, the second consecutive day of a wash-out here.

A view of the pagoda as rain continues to fall.
Photo by Ron McQueeney - IRL.

Only two drivers materially benefited from the delay. The two who already had adversity to overcome in the early part of the month of May at the Brickyard.

Conquest Racing's Jaime Camara's prospects have improved the most from the showers. The cancellation of practice for two consecutive days has put Tuesday's Turn 1 accident, which did significant damage to the orange and white Dallara/Honda and left Camara sore from a back-first impact with the SAFER barrier, receding into the rear-view mirror.

Camara's crew members spent Wednesday's rain-cancelation re-fitting bits and pieces of the rear suspension to the car. "We're getting close," they said to a passersby wondering how the progress they were making was coming along.

Roth Racing's Jay Howard lamented on the last day of on-track activity (Tuesday) that his ill-handling car needed major work to become competitive.

"Just not a very good day for us," he said. "It's common knowledge in the paddock that a lot of people left Roth Racing last week, and we had no engineers as of yesterday (Monday, the last day of Rookie Orientation at the Speedway)."

Help arrived in the interim, with the appointment today of Larry Curry as the team's new Chief Engineer. Curry came to the team following a successful stint as the speed guru and Team Manager for Vision Racing.

"I'm looking forward to a long tenure with Roth Racing," said Curry, "and to the challenges of helping build this team into a competitive, first-class organization. I had a great three and a half years at Vision and thank (team co-owner) Tony George for his support there."

With nothing on-track to keep them occupied, the field of competitors spent the day in Gasoline Alley watching the raindrops fall, and rubbing the cars to make them go faster.

"We already had begun the process of trimming out the car," for qualifying on Saturday Pole Day (May 10th), said Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's Justin Wilson. "We've used the time off-track wisely, polishing the car and cleaning up the edges -- everything we can think of to get that extra tenth of a mile an hour which is going to make the difference on Saturday and Sunday."

Vision's A.J. Foyt IV expressed the impatience felt throughout the giant Speedway complex, saying, "We made some improvements from our first day on-track that we're anxious to try out. I think we know the direction we want to go."

Ernesto Viso, Buddy Rice and Justin Wilson in a press conference.
Photo by Shawn Payne - IRL.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Buddy Rice reminisced about a rainy day in 2004 when the precipitation proved the lucky charm he needed to win the Indianapolis 500; then offered his perspective on the hold-up by saying, "I don't think any down time is necessarily good because I think all of us up here would just as soon be out there running right now and having to work late with the teams to make our cars faster.

"At the same time, it's just part of the month at Indy. This is a long, long month, but we're all excited for the weekend and ready to get going," added Rice.

Pacific Coast Motorsports' Mario Dominguez was similarly philosophical about the stalled preparations. "We're working very closely with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, trying to find the secrets of a quick trip around the oval," he said. "None of us, neither the engineers nor myself have been at Indy before."

Tomorrow's 'Fast Friday" promises clearing skies and the return of action at The Brickyard. The day that normally sets the tone for which team and driver is ready to top the speed charts on Pole Day.

The gates at IMS open at 8:00am EDT. Admission is $5 per person for a grandstand seat along the front straightaway pit area and various other locations around the track, a live concert by the band 'Chevelle,' free face-painting on the Pagoda Plaza, and complimentary trading pin distribution beginning 11:00am at MotoGP Garage No. 34.

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Series INDYCAR