BERNOLDI PASSES INDIANAPOLIS 500 ROOKIE ORIENTATION PROGRAM Moraes, Dominguez cleared for further practice INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, May 5, 2008 - Enrique Bernoldi became the 11th driver to pass the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program on the...
BERNOLDI PASSES INDIANAPOLIS 500 ROOKIE ORIENTATION PROGRAM
Moraes, Dominguez cleared for further practice
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, May 5, 2008 - Enrique Bernoldi became the 11th driver to pass the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program on the second and final day devoted to newcomers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Fellow rookies Mario Dominguez and Mario Moraes completed three of the four phases of ROP and may complete the final phase later in the month.
Also on Monday, veterans Davey Hamilton and Max Papis completed refresher tests.
Alex Lloyd, driver of the No. 16 Rahal Letterman with Chip Ganassi Dallara/Honda/Firestone, topped the speed chart with a fast lap of 40.3528 seconds, 223.033 mph on the historic 2.5-mile oval.
Andretti Green Racing's Hideki Mutoh was second while KV Racing Technology teammates Will Power and Oriol Servia were third and fourth, respectively.
The only incident came just before 1 p.m. when Jaime Camara spun entering Turn 1 and made moderate contact with the SAFER Barrier. Camara was transported to Methodist Hospital for X-rays as a precautionary measure. The results were negative, and he will be reevaluated Tuesday.
The track opens to all drivers Tuesday for practice for the 92nd Running of the Indianapolis 500. The top 11 starting positions, including the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award presented by AutoZone, will be determined Saturday.
Ten drivers completed Rookie Orientation Sunday and may practice at any speed. #36 Enrique Bernoldi completed the first three phases of ROP and must complete the final phase. #19 Mario Moraes and #96 Mario Dominguez must complete all four phases of ROP.
Additionally, #44 Max Papis and #22 Davey Hamilton must pass the refresher test.
Ron Hunter, the head men's basketball coach at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), was today's honorary starter.
RON HUNTER: "This is absolutely incredible. I've never been this close to the cars. I was at the Masters a few weeks ago, and this gives me more goose bumps than being at the Masters. This is absolutely incredible. It's a tradition, just like basketball. It's important. This is Indiana, just like it is with basketball. I'm going to meet with my players afterwards, just to talk about the feeling. I had no idea how fast these cars go. Riding in the Pace Car was incredible. Hanging out with Johnny Rutherford, it's just amazing. I don't know a lot about race car driving, but I'll tell you what, I became a huge fan today."
The car driven by Danica Patrick in the 2005 Indianapolis 500, when she became the first woman to lead laps in the historic race en route to a fourth-place finish, has found a home in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. Rahal Letterman Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal officially presented the car to the museum during a ceremony this morning.
The car was donated to the museum by its present owner Stanley Ross, who owns and maintains a number of historic race cars, including ones driven by RLR co-owner Bobby Rahal throughout his legendary career.
The No. 16 Argent Mortgage Honda/GForce/Firestone debuted at the 2005 Indy 500 where Patrick first made history by qualifying fourth, setting a high-water mark for female drivers at Indianapolis. She became the first woman to lead a lap when pit-stop cycles gave her the lead on Lap 56, but she came back to pace 18 of the final 28 laps, battling fiercely with eventual race winner Dan Wheldon before finishing fourth. The result catapulted Patrick into the forefront of the national sportscape, and landed her on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
The car made nine starts with Patrick at the wheel in 2005, making more history by earning pole positions at Kansas, Kentucky and Chicagoland. The car scored six top-10 finishes in its IndyCar Series history, including a seventh-place run in its final outing with Jeff Simmons at the wheel last season at Infineon Raceway.
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team Motorola): "It's flattering to think that a car I drove is going to be on display at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 2005 Indianapolis 500 was an amazing race for me and was a milestone day in the history of the biggest race in the world. I'm glad fans will have a chance to relive that day and get a closer look at a car that played a significant role in my career and in the legend of the Indianapolis 500."
BOBBY RAHAL (Co-owner, Rahal Letterman Racing): "It is an exciting day. Thanks to the generosity of Stan Ross, who was involved with us and Danica right from the start in Formula Atlantic and then he graduated with her to the ‘500' that year in '05. This is the right place for the car, for sure, especially now that she's won a race, but even prior to that, the fact that she led and it was such a precedent-setting performance, this is the right place for it."
(What was the chain of custody of the car?): "Early on, I asked Stanley to (join us) in the Atlantics, and he was involved in us and the car. When I said I want to take Danica to Indy, at the end of '04, I said, ‘Will you join with us again,' and he said, ‘Yeah,' so basically it's his car. We suggested to him that he might want to give it to the muse um, to think about that, and it didn't take long for him to do so. We've been trying to hold this affair (car presentation) for six months, I think its better that we waited until now, not just because of the (Danica's) win, but more so because this is Indianapolis and this is the right place for it."
Medical update from Dr. Mike Olinger, senior medical director for the Indy Racing League: #34 Camara has been evaluated at Methodist Hospital. X-rays were negative. He will be evaluated at the Clarian Medical Center Tuesday morning to determine his fitness to drive.
Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. Below are select quotes from his availability with the media.
DARIO FRANCHITTI (2007 Indianapolis 500 champion): "It's really cool to be back. It felt kind of strange to be back and not driving, but this is a really special place and particularly after last year a place that has a special place in my heart. We knew the whole month last year that we had a really strong car. Both Tony (Kanaan) and myself in particular were working closely together, opposite Danica (Patrick) and Marco (Andretti). We just got in this rhythm where both cars were really feeding off each other and we knew we had a great car, and going into the race there was something that happened with one of the dampers in the car, from the very start. It took us most of the race to dial that problem back out because the car had a lot of understeer and it took us until at least the rain delay to get the car back under balance, and from that point on we were, I felt, a s strong as anybody in the race."
(About following the IndyCar Series) "I've been paying a lot of attention. When I was racing IndyCar, I watched a lot of NASCAR on TV. Now I'm watching a lot of IndyCar on TV. I watch all types of motorsport. Obviously keeping a close eye because I have a lot of friends here racing and also working with the teams. It was great news when the series unified and we got one open-wheel series. It was a great move and a great first step to the future. I think its going to work really well. Obviously Danica winning that first race was great. I had a vested interest though, I won 300 bucks. I had a bet with Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates, so I won some money there. She did a terrific job and I think it's going to be a really interesting month of May for all kinds on reasons."
(About advice for rookies) "Advice? I remember coming here in 2002 and the biggest advice I could give is respect this place. It is the most difficulty track I have ever driven. It changes so much with the weather. You think you've got everything right and the next thing it bites you. This is a very difficult place, and the race is incredibly difficulty too. Like I said, respect, and I think the guys who haven't raced here before - I don't like when they are referred to as the ex-Champ Car drivers or transition, because it's one series now, I think it just be referred to as that. I think the rookies, the guys who haven't been here before, are going to have their work cut out. The rookie teams as well, they are going to have their work cut out because there are certain tricks to making these cars go fast and it takes a while to learn those, both as a driver, an engineer and as a mechanic. It will be tough. And then you look at the drivers at the top of their game and the teams at the top of their game, it makes it difficult. I think as far as the talent of the drivers and the teams, it's definitely up there. They just need some experience."
2005 Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon visited Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent this morning to meet with 9-year-old Sophie Banker.
Banker designed the helmet Wheldon will wear in the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at The Milwauke Mile on June 1. Banker designed the helmet using a multi-colored swatch of fabric from her favorite blanket, gluing pieces to a paper outline of an IndyCar Series driver helmet.
The blanket was never far from Sophie's reach. Through the initial surgery to remove a brain tumor to radiation and chemotherapy treatments and rehabilitation programs, it's been her calling card with the multi-discipline staff at the Indianapolis hospital.
DIANE BANKER (Mother of Sophie Banker): "The blanket was at a lake cottage where my husband grew up and it ended up at our house. Sophie just decided that this was what she loved and wanted to take everywhere. She was about 2 years old when she found in a closet and took ownership. "(For the contest) I said, ‘You could use your colored pencils. You could use this blanket. This is about St. Vincent; this blanket has been drug around for six years here. It's represents your time here.' She traced the fabric, cut it out, got out the glue stick and here it is. We're really at a good point to be five years out of treatment and six years out of diagnosis. This is a moving forward point for all of us. It's all about moving forward for her; you take what you have today and work as hard as you can."
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "She's a very determined young girl. At one point her mother was talking and she says, ‘Well, listen, Mom, it doesn't always go your way.' It really captured me. To meet her and see how well she's doing is a thrill for me. When you walk through St. Vincent Children's Hospital, it really puts things into perspective. We can be disappointed for not winning races, but to think what these young children have to go through - and a lot of them do pull through - it shows their strength of character. To be able to excite somebody who has gone through an extreme amount is very special for me. By doing this hopefully it can mean an awful lot to some people and hopefully we can make it bigger so we can do more for the children."
INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
ENRIQUE BERNOLDI (No. 36 Sangari Conquest Racing): "My day was good. I progressed a lot. It was actually much nicer than yesterday, speed-wise. Today I could go flat out more and was able to do more laps, and we started to take out some downforce and worked on the setup of the car. I improved over 3 miles per hour today, so it has been a very positive day for us. I feel sorry for my teammate because he crashed. I think if he had stayed on the track, we would have improved even more with two cars. But we still have a long time to go. I think we are on the right track, and hopefully we will improve on today's time."
ALEX LLOYD (No. 16 Rahal Letterman with Chip Ganassi): "It was a good day really. We didn't get too much running in really, we got one run in early in the morning, then we had a couple of problems that set us back a couple of hours. But we got a good run in in the end, and I was able to gradually take a little bit of downforce out of the car, which is the key. I've been doing that nice and gently over the last couple of days. It's obviously my first time in an IndyCar on an oval, so we're going to be giving the track a lot of respect and taking our time with it. We're just improving the balance of it and going through it during the day and getting up to speed and feeling very comfortable with it. We're very happy with it. I think the guys have given me a good car and it's good for me, having Chip Ganassi and (Bobby) Rahal together working with me. I've got a lot of experience with both t eams that are helping, and I'm finding that to be a great benefit to me, and so far it's gone very smoothly. We've got everyone out tomorrow, and that's going to be nice to see what sort of speeds they're doing and see where we are and what we need to improve on and keep working."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream): "The team gave me a great car, and I was really confident to drive it on the track and feel the downforce on the car. We can be faster, even tomorrow, so I'm really looking forward to driving and qualifying on Saturday. It is more comfortable than yesterday, definitely."
WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyard-Team Australia): "It was a good day. We definitely had good balance in the Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia car. We just wanted to go the next step and move into the next speed bracket. The KV Racing Technology team did a good job getting the car balanced, and we keep trimming it out so we can get to 225 mph. That is the area we obviously need to be at in order to have any chance to qualify well on Saturday. I am very happy with how we picked up 2 mph from yesterday. It's a step forward."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology): "Another good day, more miles, not as many as yesterday, but Will (Power) and I again seem to be the ones clocking the most laps. It's good. We just keep improving the KV Racing Technology car, getting used to how a car should feel here, and that's down to all the KVRT crew for their hard work."
JAIME CAMARA (No. 34 Sangari): "We went for our first run and the car was pretty good. I went into Turn 1 and I turned in a little early. I went below the white line, and that wasn't such a good idea. That's why I lost it and crashed. The accident was totally my fault. We had a pretty good car. I'm sure we were going to be on the top of the time charts like yesterday. Unfortunately, the accident happened. Wednesday, everything is going to be all right again. We're going to the track with the same setup as today and we're going to be there."
(Are you OK?): "They checked me here, but they wanted me to go to the hospital for a CAT scan and make sure that my spine and lower body was all right. Tomorrow, I'm going to see Dr. (Terry) Trammell to see if I'm OK to drive. I hope by Wednesday every thing will be OK. I feel fine, just a little s ore."
MARIO MORAES (No. 19 The SONNY Car): "I was very excited when I arrived at the track for the first time. I didn't realize how big everything was until I got there. Going down the front straightaway for the first time was incredible. All I could see was grandstands on either side of me and then at the last minute you are turning into Turn 1 flat out. For my first time out here, I thought I did a pretty good job."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 18 The Z-Line Car): "It's great to be back at Indy. If we would have gone out yesterday, we would have been P1 with the time we ran today, so I am very happy with the car's performance on its first time out. I have had some great results here at Indy and would like nothing more than to give Dale Coyne Racing and Z-Line Designs a podium finish."
MAX PAPIS (No. 44 Rubicon Race Team/Lifelock): "I am really, really pleased and I think we are making great progress. It is nice how I am working with my engineer Tim Neff. We were able to achieve our goals today as I was driving around wide open. I feel it is a really good first day given that we've only done 22 laps in the car, and I don't normally drive this type of car. I think within a few days we will be able to show what we are capable of doing with the Rubicon LifeLock car."
DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 22 Hewlett-Packard/KR Vision Racing): "We almost broke 220 mph. The car is great actually. A lot has changed from last year, so when we first got out there it was a matter of getting comfortable and figuring things out again. We took a little downforce out of the car, and I started to feel it so I think we'll have a good platform to go from in tomorrow's practice with Ed (Carpenter) and A.J. (Foyt IV). It was a really good start and nice to start off in the top 10."
E.J. VISO (No. 33 PDVSA HVM Racing): "So far everything is going smooth. I really like it here, but I think the exciting part begins now. So far we've just been taking it easy, as there are plenty of days and we don't want to use all of our tires up. We are spending some time developing the car and finding more speed. Driving here takes a very different approach than I am used to; you have to think different and drive different from anywhere else. It's really nothing like the first two ovals I drove on (Homestead-Miami and Kansas) because its four corners are completely separate from the long straights. I'm looking forward to the rest of the week with the veterans on track, and I think I can learn from them, running close, and find out the reactions of the car in traffic. The team has done a great job, and I'm enjoying myself so far."
JAY HOWARD (No. 24 Roth Racing): "Just not a very good day for us. It's pretty common knowledge in the paddock a lot of people left Roth Racing last week, and we had no engineers as of yesterday. Fortunate for us, Larry Curry has come on board, but he has definitely had his hands full. It's been a real struggle for us today. Hanging on for dear life and doing slow times is not what we came here to do. Hopefully the guys can put everything right over the next couple of days. We may even sit out tomorrow just to make sure that everything is right. We're not going to try to be heroes and do anything stupid. So far this year, we have had an up and down season, but we have always managed to come away with something good from every day. This is our first day where it's not gone so great."
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (No. 96 Visit Mexico City/Pacific Coast Motorsports): "I can't believe that I ran my first laps around this amazing track today. This is an absolute dream come true for me. I have to give credit to my crew for getting this together in such a short period of time. Despite some issues, we still made it out there and we were able to pass three phases of the rookie test today. We had a small issue with the rear wing and we were very loose, but we did it. We only managed to run two hours and it was our first two hours ever running this car, but we accomplished a lot and I am relieved. Now we can turn our focus to making the car better, and I look forward to that."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team): "I think we learned a little bit. We didn't make as much progress as I think we were hoping to. But on this track, it's probably better to take it slower than to rush through things. We did the right thing and took our time and made sure we made positive steps. The car feels pretty close to where we started, so we just need to start making a few small changes and get up there. It's difficult trying not to rush through things too quickly. Each corner is definitely different. Usually the speed is a bit higher into Turns 1 and 3. They're similar but they're different because the wind is a factor. The car reacts different in that and you have to adjust for it."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps): "We're getting a little bit quicker, but we've still got a ways to go. The car is quicker, but there is still some speed to find. We've gone completely flat, so now it's a matter of taking wing out of it and going quicker. We need to focus on getting qualified in the first weekend, so we can take the second weekend off."
A total of 27cars are currently at the Speedway. Sixteen have passed technical inspection. Sixteen drivers have been on the track to date and turned 655 laps today and 1,316 laps this month. Will Power turned 61 laps today and has turned 154 laps this month, most of any driver. There were five cautions for a total of 54 minutes. A total of 96 IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights drivers have passed physicals at the Clarian Medical Center.
TUESDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
Public Gates Open
IndyCar Series practice
The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at noon (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 23 at Indianapolis. It will be telecast at 4 p.m. (EDT) on May 23 on ESPN2.