Fast Friday brought gray skies to Speedway, Indiana; but the mood of the fans was anything but blue as the IndyCar Series retured to the track for practice ahead of Saturday's Pole Day qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Indiana Governor...
Fast Friday brought gray skies to Speedway, Indiana; but the mood of the fans was anything but blue as the IndyCar Series retured to the track for practice ahead of Saturday's Pole Day qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels came in early this morning for a free cholesterol check as part of his "InShape Indiana" public health campaign. The governor noted that the rate of cigarette smoking and obesity is declining in the Hoosier state, two of several aims he had in mind when creating the program.
"Folks that come to screenings like this one tend to be more mindful of their health," he said. "I hope they take advantage of this great opportunity, and coming away from it start thinking about all the aspects of a long, quality life."
The Governor, who stays in personal shape through regular exercise and has frequently preached the benefits of fitness, added his thoughts on getting into an IndyCar for a trip around the oval.
"I'm probably fit enough to do it, but not fit to do it," he said. "Every guy thinks he can drive a car fast but only a few can. I'm humble enough to know you don't want me driving your race car."
Team Penske's Roger Penske has presided over 76 drivers making starts in one of his cars over the last thirty-six years, beginning with Brown-educated Mark Donohue in 1971.
Penske returned this morning to speak of his 2008 line-up which includes drivers Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe.
"Every morning is the same here," he said. "It's always pins-and-needles time."
"It gets tougher because there are more and more things to worry about. At one time the only thing on my mind come race day was whether the engine would start. It's not that way anymore."
He then twisted the thumbscrews for his men in the cockpit, adding, "You've got to execute, think and be patient here; yet you have to be up front and in sight of the leader--and you can't make any mistakes in the pits."
Joining him at a press conference in Indy's expansive Media Center, Rick Mears offered up some thoughts on qualifying over the big 2.5 mile oval.
"Qualifying here is the toughest, but one of the most fun, things ever," he said. "You have to be ready to go while remaining relaxed, calm and focused."
"If you're in the hunt (for pole) the pressure is really on. The important thing is just get in four good laps, and count on the team."
Indy Racing League Senior Technical Director Les Mactaggert suggested we might see a pole speed in 2008 near 228 miles per hour--that is, if conditions turn up perfect on Saturday.
"One of the unique things about the Speedway is how it changes constantly," he said. "It's a very technical track. We had a race here in 1992 that illustrated the difficulties you get if the details aren't attended to."
The 1992 race remains notorious for pole-winner Roberto Guerrero's spin and crash before the race even started, on cold tires on a cool day, won by Al Unser Jr over Scott Goodyear in the closest Indy 500 finish ever.
Sarah Fisher continues to make news, this time with the sponsorship announcement of Milwaukee's Direct Supply long-term care equipment suppliers and market-makers.
"Working with Bob Hillis and the entire group at Direct Supply has been great thus far," she said, "and we look forward to helping them grow their business."
It's the third year Direct Supply has participated in The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, giving Fisher a reliable source of funding for what she hopes is her seventh start on Memorial Day.
Earlier this week Fisher entertained Senator Hillary Clinton on a stop in the Sarah Fisher Racing garages at Gasoline Alley.
John Andretti, on his status as a hopeful entrant in the May 25th race: "I have taken the physical, but I'm too short. I'm working on height, trying to get something together."
Buddy Rice, on what qualifying at Indianpolis is like: "If it's not scary in qualifying, you're not going fast enough."
IMS Radio's Mike King (speaking of former Penske teammate Helio Castroneves to 2003 winner Gil de Ferran): "Helio likes to say that he wears his first Indy 500 championship ring, his father wears his second and you, Gil, wear his third."