POWER LEADS PRACTICE AS TEAMS BEGIN PREPARATIONS AT BELLE ISLE
IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Will Power topped the time chart as teams began preparations for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park.
Power turned a lap of 1 minute, 12.8335 seconds (102.313 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet in the second of two practice sessions - the first in wet conditions and the second in drying conditions.
Justin Wilson, who won in the series' last visit to Belle Isle, was second quick (1:12.9343; 102.174) despite sliding into a tire barrier during the first practice.
Indy 500 pole sitter and fifth-place finisher Ryan Briscoe, driving the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske car, was third quick (1:13.1176), while Simon Pagenaud was fourth (1:13.1195) in the No. 77 Schmidt/Hamilton HP Motorsports car. Tony Kanaan was fifth (1:13.3012; 101.663)
Also on June 1, Sebastian Saavedra posted a quick lap of 1 minute, 20.5109 seconds (92.559 mph) in the afternoon practice in the No. 27 Team AFS car as Firestone Indy Lights teams made their debut at Belle Isle.
Tristan Vautier was second quick (1:20.9043; 92.109) in the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian car. Gustavo Yacaman (1:21.6569), the Firestone Freedom 100 pole sitter, was third in the No. 2 TMR-Tuvacol/Xtreme Coil Drilling car. Points leader Esteban Guerrieri was fourth (1:21.8908) in the No. 11Pistas Argentinas/Sam Schmidt Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian car.
DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:
Live timing and scoring reports from the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix are available on the Internet at racecontrol.indycar.com.
Feature stories, reports, driver quotes and notes will be posted on the INDYCAR media website at media.indycar.com. More detailed information, including media advisories and VNF coordinates are also posted on the media website. Hi-resolution images are available to media at www.indycarmedia.com. Media updates will also be provided on Twitter by following @indycarpr
Sebastien Bourdais will compete in road/street course races and Katherine Legge will compete on ovals as Dragon Racing will consolidate into one full-time IZOD IndyCar Series entry. Bourdais, a four-time CART champion, will drive in the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix this weekend in the No. 7 TrueCar Dragon Racing Chevrolet.
"Here we are, Detroit, the real start of my season," said Bourdais, who has never competed on the 2.07-mile, 14-turn course. "Now that Dragon Racing and I have joined the Chevy family, I am excited about the future prospects and particularly this coming weekend. I know how important this event is for Chevrolet, and I will do my very best to offer them a great result. I don't know this track but I have faith in the potential of our new package."
The following IZOD IndyCar Series cars/drivers have incurred 10-grid spot penalties for unapproved engine changes at Indianapolis: #38 Rahal, #78 De Silvestro.
David Ostella will compete in this weekend's Firestone Indy Lights race on Saturday in the No. 22 Global Precast/LiUNA/entry fielded by Team Moore Racing with assistance from Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian.
Ostella's Team Moore Racing car was damaged in an accident during the Firestone Freedom 100 race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 25. The will utilize Bryan Herta Autosport's white and blue No. 28 car as well as its crew to put the young Canadian back on track.
DAVID OSTELLA (No. 22 TMR-Global Precast-Xtreme Coil Drilling): "I have a lot of respect for Bryan Herta Autosport. They run a great program, so I think this partnership with Team Moore will be a great opportunity for me to learn and honestly, I can't thank them both enough. Without this partnership and all the effort extended to help me after Indy, I wouldn't be racing this weekend. I'm confident in this team collaboration and in the car. Indy is behind me now and I'm ready to just race so I can show my sponsors and fans what I'm capable of."
Firestone Racing engineers have developed an all-new rain tire for use in the IZOD IndyCar Series that is a significant departure from the type of rain tires that have been utilized for the past 15 seasons. With rain falling on the Raceway at Belle Isle circuit during today's practice session, this new wet-condition race tire is being utilized for the first time today.
The new Firestone Firehawk rain tire's tread pattern is inspired by the Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500 passenger tire, and it will serve as more of an "intermediate" rain tire than its "full wet" predecessor.
AL SPEYER (Executive Director, Firestone Racing): "We always say that Firestone Racing regards our participation in the IZOD IndyCar Series as a giant laboratory," said. "This new rain tire is truly a product of that philosophy. It's unique in the fact that its tread design is inspired by the ultra-high performance Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500 tire, so it borrows from passenger tire technology. But it also contains new technology that we believe will one day make its way into passenger and commercial (truck) tires. It is a very interesting two-way technology transfer."
Each IZOD entrant receives five sets of primary Firestone Firehawk tires for the race weekend plus three sets of alternate tires. The Firestone primary and alternate tire specifications for Detroit remain the same as those used earlier this season on street circuits at St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Brazil.
ABC's coverage of the 96th Indianapolis 500 earned a 4.3 final rating, according to Neilsen Media Research. It is the best final rating for the Indianapolis 500 telecast since the 2008 race.
Full-season IZOD IndyCar Series entrants were given the choice to use the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race engine they received for Miller Lite Carb Day practice and the 200-lap race May 27 or the changed-out engine for the balance of their 1,850-mile threshold.
Multiple teams refitted the changed-out engine for testing at the Milwaukee Mile on May 29 in preparation for the June 15-16 Milwaukee IndyFest to use up the remaining miles, and inserted the Indy 500 engine for this weekend's race on Belle Isle and subsequent events until it reaches the 1,850 miles.
The series is in the midst of five consecutive weekends of racing. Following Belle Isle is the Firestone 550 on June 9 at Texas Motor Speedway, the Milwaukee IndyFest, and the Iowa Corn Indy 250 on June 23 at Iowa Speedway. The Texas and Iowa races are under the lights.
Sixteen drivers are scheduled to test at Iowa Speedway on June 12-13 in advance of the event on the .875-mile oval that will feature two heat races on June 22.
Firestone Indy Lights officials announced today the following post-race penalties from the May 25 Firestone Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
Sebastian Saavedra has been placed on probation for the remainder of the 2012 racing season for failure to follow rules as instructed in the Race Day Drivers' Meeting and engaging in unsportsmanlike conduct.
Tristan Vautier has been penalized five driver points for failure to follow rules as instructed in the Race Day Drivers' Meeting.
Gustavo Yacaman has been penalized 10 driver points and put on probation for the remainder of the 2012 season for failure to follow rules as instructed in the Race Day Drivers' Meeting and engaging in unsportsmanlike conduct.
Pursuant to the Firestone Indy Lights rulebook, the member may appeal the imposition of the penalty within the time and manner prescribed in section 13.1.
IZOD INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No 7 TrueCar Dragon Racing Chevrolet): "An interesting day. We found a few things on the car between Brazil and here that were not right on the front of the car and we picked up a lot of front grip. This morning, the car was a mess. We got our stuff together this afternoon and the car seemed to be pretty quick. We had a mechanical issue and lost a camber shim so we weren't able to transform the speed into lap time with new tires like everyone else at the end, but the car is pretty good. We'll see what the conditions give us. Pretty happy. Good to have a Chevy and nice to fight it out with those guys out there."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "We didn't run the first session because of the weather and I spun in the first part of the second session. The car just felt really light on grip, and we struggled that session. I think we were decent enough to stay in the top five or six but we had a time in the car to be about third. Overall we're struggling with grip and balance with the Target car."
DARIO FRANCHITI (No. 10 Unilever Honda): "It was a truncated session for us really. The track was slippery and we went out and made some big adjustment to the Suave car which limited our track time. Ultimately I think that will put us in a better position for tomorrow. The position in the session doesn't show what we have and we'll be working on improving that tomorrow for qualifying."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It's definitely strange the first couple of laps with the bumps and everything. You use a lot of lock and turn left and right, so it's nice to get back out there. This track is—it's insane how hard you've got to push to be quick. It's great. There's no straights, there's no corners, and I had a lot of fun actually." (About racing in Detroit): "After Indy's result, we've got to just keep moving on here and get a good result. (Team owner) Roger (Penske) loves Detroit. This is to showcase Detroit the city, so he just wants to go well and have good weather. The way he presents the track is fantastic, so I think it would be great for one of his cars to win. I think he'd love that. But obviously that's what we're here to do and try our absolute best."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 18 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Honda): "It's always good to be back at Detroit. We've had a good day and learned a lot of thing. It seems like 2008 was a long time ago. We're back with new cars, new teams and new set-ups but the same track. I think we know what it takes to get around this place, but the field is so competitive, it is hard to stay in front. You need to keep adjusting to make things better and stay up front. With this track you can't relax for a second - you have to stay on your toes. The track will be different, tomorrow if the weather changes so we'll all just have to adjust and keep pushing to go faster."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "It's probably the bumpiest track I've ever been to, which makes it difficult to set up the car. It's a very physical track, so we'll see what we can do to conquer it. It's tighter than it looks out there and it's very difficult to get a feel for what you want from the car. We've got some work to do before tomorrow so we'll see what we can make happen. This is a difficult place to master."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "We had a problem with the car today. We were pretty anxious to get out on the Belle Isle track after the run we had at Brazil with our street setup. This is the same car we ran in the Indy 500 and in the Milwaukee test with and something just isn't right. Back at the shop we are getting the backup car ready for the Texas race next week, but right now we just have the single car. The qualifying crash set us back a little in our normal road course car. The track doesn't feel as bumpy as I remember it. We just need to sit down and go over everything with the set ups. Having the rain in the first practice didn't help us either today. But we'll be ready for Saturday."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central Honda): "I feel really good about the Service Central car. Certainly we're competitive. We never really got a good lap there. There were twenty minutes left in the session, and I just got caught up in traffic and making some changes. Overall, I feel like the car has a lot of potential so I'm not feeling too bad going into tomorrow."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): "It was a good practice session and gave us a reasonable foundation for the weekend. This place is pretty rough and we spent a good part of the day just trying to figure it all out. This is my first time here, so I really want to learn what it's like all the way through. A gearbox problem kept us from running right at the end of the second session but we had some good information from the earlier laps. When the rubber goes down, each lap is quicker and quicker so we'll see what it does tomorrow morning in practice and then in qualifying."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "I have no more air left in my lungs. That is good fun. It's one of those tracks where you push, push, push every corner, and you have to get the car to dance with you over the bumps. It's a great feeling, and that's what I love about IndyCar racing. Man and machine have to work together to go fast. Yes, it may be difficult to pass here, but it's going to be a good race because the cars are not easy to race here, it's bumpy, you get tired and it's just a circuit that generates mistakes by drivers. It's a track where you have to be physically and mentally stronger than the other drivers. It's one of those race tracks where you can still make a difference as a driver. All of that will make it a good race. For us, the HP team did an awesome job preparing the car. We are dancing well together. It's cool."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): "The track is super rough, for sure. It definitely has very distinct character because of that, and you're definitely arms and elbows because of that. Overall, we had a pretty good session. Myself not having been here, and the car being new, it's a matter of just getting all the little things worked out. For us, just getting the brake temps right was a huge gain. Little things like that are a big help to start with. I think we finished the session in a good place to make some gains for tomorrow."
E.J. VISO (No. 5 CITGO-PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "We got a limited number of laps today during the first practice due to the excessive rain. For the second practice it was a little overcast, however it was dry. Unfortunately, the route we took with the car setup didn't work out the way we wanted. We know what we need to address for the rest of the weekend and we will work on it overnight for tomorrow's practice and qualifying."
RUBENS BARRICHELLO (No. 8 BMC/Embrase - KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "I ran some laps in the wet and the dry today. It was good to get to know the place and I'm thankful that it got drier towards the end. I still don't know the place but at least running in the dry gave me a better idea, so we will see how tomorrow goes."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 GEICO/Mouser Electronics - KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "It is nice to be back on track at Belle Isle. We only did an installation lap in the first session, but ran a full second session. The car felt good right out of the box and we only did small changes during the session. I'm looking forward to a good qualifying tomorrow as that is very important here."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): "Today was not a bad first day, all things considered and the weather we had this morning. It's a taller task for me when it comes to learning the race track. We got a couple laps in and the car ran well in the rain (in the soggy first practice session). I think the forecast is looking good enough that we could focus on the dry running like we did this afternoon. For me, it was just as much about getting myself up to speed as it was tuning on the car. Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and I were in the top ten with Marco (Andretti) not far behind. I think the car is good, just like it has been all year. We'll keep tuning away at it. We have another practice in the morning before we head into qualifying. Hopefully we can keep the Go Daddy car up front and keep the streak alive."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet,): "It was raining all day, which meant the track was very green. We were able to test some changes with our car that are fundamental to help us find more speed tomorrow. I think there is a lot more speed in the No. 28 car, and the track will continue to get faster as we lay more rubber down."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team RC Cola Chevrolet): "It was like ice out there. The track was so green with all of the rain that the track changed and improved every lap. We weren't out there gaining grip late in the session like a lot of the other guys that were quick at the end. We didn't see the lap times for the RC Cola car, but the car seemed pretty responsive."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): "The course is challenging, it really is. The first corner has so many surface changes from asphalt to concrete. Overall, it's quite bumpy; its one of the bumpiest tracks I have ever driven on. It's a good circuit; just quite challenging. The morning session was in wet conditions and we ran just to learn the track. It was quite slippery but it was nice to have a new generation of the Firestone rain tire and it worked really well. The second session we were able to run in the dry and discovered quite a few things that we need to do but it gave us a good taste for the track and good data to work from to improve tomorrow."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "It's pretty exciting to be back on a street course. It is a total 180 from Indianapolis. It couldn't be more different. It felt good to get back into a rhythm out there. This track is very physical, but the car felt strong and I am looking forward to a good weekend for the Hitachi No.2 Team Penske."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was a good day for the Shell/Pennzoil Ultra crew. They did a good job out there. We were able to run on the dry, and now we are going to look into our data to make sure we will be able to go fast tomorrow and continue to get better heading into Sunday."
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 27 Team AFS): "The cars are pretty close together. It's only the speed and a little bit of time, but I'm able to tell a little bit about how the track is out there. It felt good. We have a good car out of the box. We need to focus on tomorrow, doing a good job. There aren't a lot of passing in the race, so qualifying is going to be key. "
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM with Curb-Agajanian): "It was OK out there. The fast line was quite dry. Just the braking zone to Turn 8 was a little wet, but it was basically dry conditions if you were staying on the fast line. Of course if you dropped a wheel off the fast line you were in trouble, but it was good to have a few laps on the dry for tomorrow. Obviously the times are going to be much better tomorrow, they're going to keep dropping down. (Is running in different conditions than the expected race conditions useful?): "It was useful because the track was dry on the line. Obviously we've got to learn the track, so it was good to get out."
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI (No. 11 Pistas Argentinas/SSM with Curb Agajanian): "The circuit is quite fun. There are a lot of different types of corners and it's tricky with the bumps. You have to really find your way around it, and car set-up will be very important. There are a lot of skills involved getting around here fast, and that makes it fun. That is good. Since we didn't get to turn many laps today, tomorrow is going to be the day we find the limits in qualifying if its dry. It will be fun."
OLIVER WEBB (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "It's a good track, and it's really bumpy. It's new for everyone since Firestone Indy Lights has never been here before. It's good that we got some dry running in this afternoon. Unfortunately I didn't do a single clear lap. We know where we are in the time sheets and our sectors were P1, which is something to go by. We know we're fast."
VICTOR CARBONE (No. 3 MAV TV/Nevoni/SSM with Curb-Agajanian): "The track looks fun. We didn't do many laps but I could tell it's really bumpy. We didn't practice in the rain this morning so we'll see how things go tomorrow. I like racing in the rain because it's challenging. I have to talk to my teammates and crew tonight to see what they think about the track, which will help us come up with a plan for qualifying."