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Barnhart gives Indy 500 drivers final instructions

Barnhart gives Indy 500 drivers final instructions

The 33 drivers who will start in tomorrow's Indianapolis 500 received final instructions from Indy Racing League President of Competition and Operations Brian Barnhart in a public ceremony held this morning along the front straightaway of the ...

The 33 drivers who will start in tomorrow's Indianapolis 500 received final instructions from Indy Racing League President of Competition and Operations Brian Barnhart in a public ceremony held this morning along the front straightaway of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"Congratulations to each of the drivers sitting here this morning," Barnhart said. "Your attendance signifies a successful month of May. Your hard work, commitment and professionalism has paid off with a spot in the field on Sunday.

"For the start of the race, green will be the third time by. The pace car will be driven by two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi, and will come through the north end at 105 to 110 miles an hour through Turn 4. The cars should be three abreast at this time.

"Please consider the competitors around you. We don't start like this at any other event throughout the season. The key to a good start is driver patience and discipline between the rows. Watch the drivers in front, beside and behind you. Take care of yourself and execute a clean start. You may not pass prior to the start-finish line on the initial start, and you need to be ready to brake in Turn 1 if you have to. Leave yourself someplace to go, and be ready for sparks from the titanium skid blocks when everyone is full of fuel.

"Scott, as the pole sitter, you'll use the pace car as your reference. Don't let the Corvette get too far in front of you. Emerson's speed is the pace I want you at as you exit Turn 4. At that time Dan and Ryan will pace off of you as the pace car turns into Pit Road. As all rows arrive on the front straightaway the green flag will wave to commence the start of the race.

"Make sure you take care of yourself as well as your competitors in pit lane. Any speeding or running over of equipment or other unsanctioned activities are subject to penalties.

"Spotters are located in Turns 1 and 3, and provide great information to you. But don't rely on them to make the decision for you or drive the car. If you're doing your job well, the spotter will most likely be providing information you already know.

"Use the first half of the race to prepare for the second half. It's supposed to be warmer than any day we've had this month. You'll have to adjust downforce levels and prepare for a hot, slippery track. You have several pit stops for opportunities to improve the handling of your car. Be patient. 500 miles is a long day, not a sprint race.

"As we prepare for the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500, there's great excitement around the IndyCar series. For the first time in 12 years we arrive at this event as a unified racing series. We welcome back teams like Newman/Haas/Lanigan, Dale Coyne Racing, and Eric Bachelart's Conquest Racing. We welcome for the first time KV Racing Technologies, Pacific Coast Motorsports and HVM Racing. We welcome eleven new drivers. We had a tremendous off-season with exposure in front of millions of fans with Helio Castroneves winning 'Dancing with the Stars.'

 "All of this provides added excitement and drama for tomorrow's race . There is buzz around our sport, and a feeling of a new beginning . 

"We are well positioned for growth as we lead the IndyCar series into the next generation of racing. It comes at a great time, as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway begins to celebrate some very special anniversaries in the next three years, including the centennial celebration of the first 500 in 1911.

"In closing, I wish each of you the best of luck tomorrow. Enjoy the parade this afternoon. And, most importantly, take care of each other on the race track. Let's have a clean, fast and safe race."

In addition to the instructions to the drivers, a number of presentations were made.

United States Auto Club President Kevin Miller presented the Roger McCluskey Award of Excellence to Roger Penske, 14 time Indianapolis 500 winning team owner.

Firestone Racing Chief Executive Officer Mark Emkes presented the 2007 Owner's Ring to Andretti Green Racing owners Michael Andretti, Kim Green and Kevin Savoree for their victory in last year's 500. Alex Lloyd was also presented with the Firestone Indy Lights Winner's Ring for his victory in the 2007 Freedom 100.

Borg Warner President and General Manager Alfred Weber presented 2007 Dario Franchitti's likeness on the Borg Warner Trophy, and recognized Andretti Green Racing's accomplishment in their victory. Via pre-recorded video, Dario thanked Borg Warner for their recognition and for the "Baby Borg" trophy he received. Dario also appeared by video to accept the "Winners Drink Milk" award from the American Dairy Association.

Ken Kettner of Herff Jones presented drivers rings to each of the starters. A ring was also given to Emerson Fittipaldi, who will start the race driving the pace car..

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