Indy 500: Series day 11 practice report

DIXON LEADS PRACTICE FOR INDIANAPOLIS 500 INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, May 16, 2008 - Sunshine returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and 36 drivers took advantage of the first complete six-hour practice day since May 6 to turn 2,164 laps on ...

DIXON LEADS PRACTICE FOR INDIANAPOLIS 500

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, May 16, 2008 - Sunshine returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and 36 drivers took advantage of the first complete six-hour practice day since May 6 to turn 2,164 laps on the historic 2.5-mile oval. Scott Dixon, who won the pole for the 92nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 10, topped the speed chart at 223.713 mph.

Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe were second and third, respectively, with Will Power fourth and Graham Rahal fifth.

1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier turned his first laps of the month in the No. 91 Hemelgarn Johnson entry. He will attempt to qualify for his 16th Indianapolis 500.

Friday's practice was the final opportunity for 25 drivers who have not yet qualified for the 500-Mile Race to prepare for qualification attempts. Starting positions 12-33 will be determined by four-lap qualifying attempts May 17. Drivers who don't qualify will attempt to bump their way into the field on May 18.

Friday's practice was marred by three incidents. E.J. Viso, Will Power and Briscoe were all uninjured in separate incidents and are cleared to drive.

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Jim Beam has awarded Ryan Cooledge of Surprise, Ariz., and three guests the exciting opportunity to do "double-duty" by winning the Jim Beam 1100. The promotion allowed consumers and race fans alike to carry out something that a professional driver has not attempted since 2003: participate in the Indianapolis 500 and the 600-mile NASCAR race in Charlotte, N.C., thus experiencing 1,100 miles of racing in the one day.

Cooledge and his guests will receive VIP treatment from the moment they arrive in Indianapolis. Before Race Day, Cooledge will go for a high-speed ride around the historic 2.5-mile oval, and then on Sunday he will go for a ride in the Pace Car and meet two-time Indy 500 champion, Helio Castroneves, and rookie sensation Ryan Briscoe.

Upon the conclusion of the Indianapolis 500, Cooledge and his guests will fly via helicopter to Indianapolis International Airport where they will board a private plane for Charlotte. Once they arrive in Charlotte, they will be driven to the NASCAR race in the Jim Beam NASCAR street-legal two-seater.

BRIAN GALLAGHER (Manager of Motorsports, Jim Beam): "Experiencing the greatest day in racing is a once-in-a-lifetime event for a consumer. By offering the winner and their guests the chance to see these two races, we are able to connect our Indy Racing League and NASCAR sponsorships and reinforce our commitment to racing."

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Six of Indiana's traditional open-wheel races are scheduled for next week, culminating with the 92nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25.

The action begins Wednesday, May 21 with the ninth annual Banjo Glen Niebel Classic USAC Sprint race at Anderson Speedway.

Thursday night features the 38th annual Tony Hulman Classic Sprint car race at the Terre Haute Action Track. On Friday, USAC Silver Crown cars compete in the 56th Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

Saturday's action includes the 63rd Night Before the 500 USAC Midget car race at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Clermont and the 60th Little 500 Sprint car race at Anderson Speedway.

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Luczo Dragon Racing, which qualified 11th with driver Tomas Scheckter for the 92nd Running of the Indianapolis 500, is partnering with 12 champion athletes to raise money and awareness for charity.

This year's team of champions is boxer Laila Ali, swimmer Natalie Coughlin, Hall of Fame boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, five-time Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb, four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears, World Champion skier Bode Miller, four-time Super Bowl winner Joe Montana, two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, NHL MVP Joe Thornton, four-time World Series champion Joe Torre, and tennis greats Serena Williams and Venus Williams.

The LDR community development program was designed to raise money, increase exposure to the sport of auto racing and encourage a philanthropic spirit that inspires others to make an impact in their communities. Each year, Luczo Dragon Racing partners with 12 champion athletes, to match their No. 12 Symantec car, and donates approximately half of its racing profits to the charities supported by the athletes. Last year, the team generated $500,000 for the charities.

Marcus Allen and Baron Davis, who were celebrity team members last year, are expected to attend this year's Indianapolis 500 as guests of the team.

STEVE LUCZO (Co-owner, Luczo Dragon Racing): "There are just not enough rich people in the world to write checks big enough that will solve the problems we are all facing with respect to hunger, at-risk children and the environment. It's just not sustainable. We wanted to build an economic engine in sports that is sustainable, gets more people involved and can make a significant impact on our communities."

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On most race weekends, Ray Leto can be found in the Firestone Indy Lights paddock, working with the rest of Sam Schmidt Motorsports team on the race car of James Davison.

But the last few weeks have been tough for Leto because he's taken on a second job.

Leto is the race engineer for Luczo Dragon Racing, which is fielding an Indianapolis 500 entry for Tomas Scheckter. Most of the Sam Schmidt Racing crew - including his longtime friend and fellow engineer Tim Neff and team manager Chris Griffis - is working on the Indianapolis 500 entry of Rubicon Racing and driver Max Papis.

Leto returns to SSM for the Firestone Freedom 100 beginning May 22 when the teams begin practice and qualifications at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He said the job will be easier than it was when he last performed double-duty at Kansas.

RAY LETO: "We did a pretty good job the last few weeks sitting in the truck working on the (Firestone Indy Lights) cars. We've been able to not talk about the big cars and keep those jobs separate. It's good competition. Tim and Chris and those guys are great competitors. Sam (Schmidt) was good enough to let me do what I wanted to do for the ‘500.' It's been fun going up against those guys. We have a whole day on Thursday to concentrate on James. Hopefully, we have the big car we have sorted out by (Friday). If we don't have the Lights car sorted out by the end of qualifying, there's not much we can do because the race just goes."

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Firestone Indy Lights team owner Brian Stewart usually can be found on the golf course if he's not at the racetrack. Stewart spent May 15 at Quicksilver Golf Club near Pittsburgh, but not as a player. Stewart was caddying for Canadian golf pro Dan Payton during U.S. Open local qualifying. Payton shot 74 and earned a trip to the sectional in Columbus, Ohio, on June 2 in a two-hole playoff.

BRIAN STEWART: "I've done this before with Dan but walking these 7,000-yard courses that go up and down wears you out. Dan was the leader in the clubhouse after the round was over, and I joked, 'If this goes to a playoff, you're on your own.'"

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Danica Patrick formally renewed a partnership with Swiss watch brand Tissot, signing a two-year contract extension during a press conference today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Patrick became Tissot's first female "U.S. Ambassador" in 2005.

Francois Thiebaud, president of Tissot Worldwide, presented Patrick with a Tissot PRC 100 Limited Edition watch that bears her name. The watch includes 27 glittering diamonds on a mother-of-pearl dial.

FRANCOIS THIEBAUD: "Danica is an exceptional race car driver, athlete and a fantastic role model for both men and women around the globe. We are happy and proud to have her represent our brand in addition to being an integral part of the Tissot family. Danica's determination led to her historic first win, and she fits perfectly with the brand's values of innovation, quest for performance and stretching oneself to the limits. It is these common features that produce a truly successful collaboration between Danica and Tissot."

DANICA PATRICK: "I love what I do. I'm happy and grateful to be where I am, but hard work continues. Hard work to be the best at what I do, and I'm sure you understand that. To be good at anything takes a lot of hard work. This relationship with Tissot is one that I value very much. I have a lot of fun with it, I really enjoy it, and I love the products. Tissot was the first watch that I ever had. I think I was going through Heathrow Airport when I was around 13 or something, and I needed a watch. I saw this watch, it was two-tone and it was small, very feminine, and it was the first watch I ever had. I thought it was called Tiss-aht, so, my, how far we've come. The products are amazing, and there are just so many for so many occasions. I'm not going to tell you how many I have. That would be rude. Again, I've had a lot of fun with it. I'm so glad to be continuing this relationship, and I hope that you're excited about it, as well."

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The winner of the Indianapolis 500 will travel in style to the IndyCar Series event at Texas Motor Speedway, courtesy of Bombardier Learjet, the official business aircraft solutions provider of the Indy Racing League and the title sponsor of the Bombardier Learjet 550k.

Bombardier, which also sponsors the Pagoda at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will fly the winner of the Indianapolis 500 to the June 7 race at Texas and back home again in a Learjet 45xr, an eight-passenger jet with a range of more than 2,000 miles.

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Fred Redmer, from Terre Haute, Ind., was the honorary starter today. Redmer, a native of Rockford, Ill., took the picture of 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti's car that appears on the 2008 Indianapolis 500 ticket.

Redmer served as the flagman at Rockford Speedway in the early 1980s. This will be the 31st consecutive Indianapolis 500 that he has attended as a fan.

FRED REDMER: (About serving as honorary starter): "That's an unbelievable thrill. As many years as I have been involved in racing, to have the Indy 500 participants come zooming by you at over 200 mph, (pause), hey, I don't think I'll ever forget this moment."

(Nine days from now you'll be sitting in your seats watching the race. How will today's experience change your perspective on that?): "I haven't really started thinking toward the race. I'll still be thinking, at the start of the race, 'Wow, a week ago I was there on the track with these guys.' I'm like a 5-year-old on Christmas morning. This is unbelievable."

(Walking in here on Race Day, you'll hold a ticket with your photograph on it. Your thoughts on that.): "I hope my head fits through the gates. It's something that I never dreamed of, and I'll want to walk down (to my seats) and say, 'This is my shot.' If I ever had a child, it's the only thing that could rival this event."

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2007 Indianapolis 500 Chase Rookie of the Year Phil Giebler talked today about the intense work that the American Dream Motorsports crew has performed in the last day to prepare his No. 88 Gardner Trucking Panoz/Honda/Firestone to turn practice laps today and attempt to qualify this weekend.

PHIL GIEBLER: "It's been a long week and a pretty stressful day yesterday trying to get things going. It was kind of a do-or-die situation if we were going to get out there for qualifying and get this done, so we're just glad to get the American Dream Motorsports car put together, and we'll get the No. 88 car on the track today. I'm just glad we had the support from J.J. Albedie's Concrete Construction that helped us put this together."

(About the work it took to get the car done): "Basically, at about 5 o'clock last night, we finalized a deal to get us the engine and the stuff that we needed. Everybody stayed late last night, worked hard. I made sure the boys were fed. I got them dinner and energy drinks and some coffee, just to keep them going, and I went and got some rest because I knew today was going to be a big day and tomorrow is goi ng to be huge for us."

(About help from other teams): "Really, there wasn't too much help. I know we had to do a lot of things to get ready, and the owner here, Eric Zimmerman, has done a great job. He's had a lot of hurdles to get over to get us here, and he's put in a lot of work. Everybody just has faith, and we're all pushing hard. We're looking forward to getting the car out there and seeing what we have to do."

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Indianapolis 500 veteran Stephan Gregoire was in Gasoline Alley today, checking the prospects for a ride in the 92nd Indianapolis 500.

Gregoire wants to race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Indianapolis 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same year. He was on a team that finished 28th overall in the Rolex 24 in January at Daytona and will drive a Pescarolo LMP1 prototype in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 14-15.

STEPHAN GREGOIRE: "It's good to be back at Indianapolis, but it would be better with a ride. I'm here, everyone knows I'm here, and you never know at Indy. If someone has a problem and needs a driver, I want to make sure they know I'm around and available if need be. Today's Friday, though, and it's getting really late."

(On possibility of taking over a current driver's ride): "These teams have their drivers for the whole year, so it's very hard for them not to commit to them. All those guys are rookie drivers, but they are good drivers. They haven't had much time to get used to the track, so you never know. I just want to be available."

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Today is the 14th annual Bike to Work Day. Earlier this week, E.J. Viso entertained spectators and himself by riding a unicycle in the garage area.

E.J. VISO: "I was bored with the bad weather and bought a unicycle. That's what I did to pass the time on the wet days. I tried it a couple of times before, but I really learned how to ride it here. It's very cool. I think it's really good for your balance because in the car it gets like a unicycle."

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Bishop Steering Technology's variable ratio rack-and-pinion steering, new to the 92nd Indianapolis 500, received the 42nd annual BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer Award today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The variable ratio rack-and-pinion steering technology developed by Bishop offers a number of driver performance benefits, including reduced fatigue through improved ease in steering, more efficient pit entry and exit, and improved maneuverability for hazard avoidance. Engineers Andrew Heathershaw, Soungjin Wou and Nick Belonogoff of Bishop Steering Technology and Andrea Toso from Dallara Automobili were honored for their work in the development and implementation of this technology for the IndyCar Series. Bishop's North American facility is based in Indianapolis, while vehicle dynamics work on the system was performed in Sydney, Australia.

The award, presented to engineers by engineers, honors early racing pioneer Louis Schwitzer, and acknowledges individuals with the courage and passion to explore and develop new concepts in racing technology. BorgWarner sponsors this prestigious $10,000 award, which is presented by the Indiana Section of the Society of Automotive Engineers. SAE International also supports the Louis Schwitzer Award by providing a $2,000 scholarship to the engineering school of the winner's choice, which this year is Purdue University in W. Lafayette, Ind. The winner's names will be added to a permanent trophy on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

The variable ratio rack-and-pinion steering system combines a range of steering rack teeth into one compact, efficient system that is manufactured with a high-tech machining process that creates gear tolerances of 1 to 2 microns. In the past, teams had to select one steering-rack tooth size for an event.

Development of the variable ratio rack-and-pinion steering system for the IndyCar Series started in 2007 with Panther Racing, and Andretti Green Racing also joined in development with Panther and the Indy Racing League last year. The technology became available to all IndyCar Series teams this season.

SOUNGJIN WOU (Engineer, Bishop Steering Technology): "This is another great tool to tune the cars. It's very exciting."

KYLE MOYER (General manager, Andretti Green Racing): "With a variable rack, when drivers go into a high-speed corner, it's a six-tooth rack. When they go through a chicane, it's a 10-tooth rack. This system covers all of our bases."

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Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt will join President George H.W. Bush and 23 others in Houston's first global image campaign. The "My Houston" campaign is a project of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The ad featuring Houston's most famous race driver offers his unique perspective on his beloved city, including his favorite restaurants and a recounting of his 200-mph drive on the 610 Freeway. It is appearing in this month's Continental In-Flight magazine as well as the May 19 edition of the Wall Street Journal and the May 23 edition of USA Today.

Other participants in the campaign include singer Beyonce Knowles, CBS commentator Jim Nantz, "Grey's Anatomy" actor Chandra Wilson, PBS TV host Bill Stubbs, rock band Blue October, Houston Dynamo soccer star Brian Ching, Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis, "Project Runway" winner Chloe Dao, country music stars Clay Walker, Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak, heavyweight champ George Foreman, entertainers Hilary and Haylie Duff, PGA golfer K.J. Choi, "All My Children" actor Leven Rambin, Latin Grammy winner Oscar de la Rosa and Grammy-winning gospel star Yolanda Adams.

A.J. FOYT: "Houston is where I was born and raised. It's where my kids were born and raised - it's home. I have traveled all over the country, to Europe, Australia and Asia, but I love coming home to Houston. It's where I belong - it's where my heart is."

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An authentic six-piece mariachi band performed for fans in the Dreyer & Reinbold suite before spilling out to entertain fans below in Gasoline Alley during practice Friday afternoon.

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INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): "We had a good day today. We continued to work on the race setup by doing long runs, and I'm happy with where we're at so far. Tomorrow we'll look to dial in the Team Penske car, and hopefully we'll be ready to race."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven): "Today was not a good day. We have to get a better handle on the Team 7-Eleven car."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Indiana Jones presented by Blockbuster): "It was really nice to get out there today and run a lot of laps in the Indiana Jones/Blockbuster car. We were able to use the time today to make a lot of changes to the car. We've still got a lot of work to do this weekend to make the race car better, though. Hopefully we'll get a lot of time the next two days."

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 18 The Z-Line Car): "Today went well with the car. We had some pretty good lap times. I am happy. I think we have a chance to qualify, so I am not going to push the limit today. I guess I just want to have a good balance. I am ready for tomorrow. I think that we can put the car in the field and get a good position."

MARIO MORAES (No. 19 The SONNY Car): "We had a good day, and we can improve more on the car by getting some speed. I think we finished in eighth or ninth when I stopped practicing. I think it was good. We improved a lot on the car for qualifying, and we hope tomorrow we can have a good day, too. I am excited for tomorrow. It is going to be my second time out to try and qualify, and I think we are going to do good."

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology): "It was finally a productive day for the KV Racing Technology No. 5 car. We had no rain, normal temperatures, so we were able to do a lot of miles and try as many ideas as we had in our heads. I am quite happy with the last two or three things we tried with the car. They made it a lot more consistent. Today has made me very hopeful that we will have a very decent car for the race."

ALEX LLOYD (No. 16 Rahal Letterman with Chip Ganassi): "We struggled a little bit this morning. With the conditions changing so much from yesterday to today, it made our car not work at all. So we went back on a few things that we've learned, and I suppose we had a productively bad day in a way. We learned what was not working, and I think we went back at the end and put a few things right. We've still got a little bit of improving to go, but I think all being well, we should have a good day tomorrow."

(On qualifying): "We know we've got a quick enough car to be solidly in the field. Obviously we want to get close to that 12th spot, if not on the 12th spot. We know that if we can get to the wing level that we want to get to, we've got a time that will be competitive enough to be 12th. We just have to make sure that we g et the car to work in the conditions tomorrow so we can run the wing that we need to run to get the time that we need. If we can do that, we should have a good day."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol): "We were chasing our rear end on setup all day. Finally at the end, we ran on our own at almost 219, and that's as quick as the front guys are. We didn't run in traffic. The way the car was, I think it's kind of good we're in the back right now where no one thinks we're there."

(On qualifying): "Qualifying's really not important here. I'd like to qualify high up there. I feel good about it. I have no doubts we'll be in the teens somewhere."

MARTY ROTH (No. 25 Roth Racing): "Tough day. We're just battling Indy right now. It's just been one of those months for us. Hopefully we'll have a car that we can get into the show."

JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 24 Roth Racing): "It's pretty hard to figure out what the right thing to do is because of the weather. Obviously, we're expecting some inclement weather over the weekend. We'll just have to wait and see. If we were running today, we could have learned some things, but I don't know what we would have figured out for qualifying. We know we've had a pretty good car the last three days speed-wise. Hopefully tomorrow, if the weather and everything holds out right, we can get a good time and worry about race setup."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola): "Today we were finally able to get the Motorola car in some traffic, which is what we needed. When you are able to run close together, you are able to get a better idea of what it is going to be like on Race Day. My crew was able to make some adjustments. We are not 100 percent where we need to be, but we are getting closer."

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team): "We were working on the race setup earlier in the day, and the McDonald's car was pretty good when we started, so I was pleased with that. We tried to change to qualifying trim toward the end and went out, and the balance wasn't too good. I had a big moment in Turn 1. I think it was more luck than judgment that the back came back in line. I basically crashed but didn't hit anything. It was the crash that never happened but should have. We thought that was enough luck for today, so we put the car away. We're going to try to sort out the qualifying setup in the pre-qualifying practice session tomorrow. We'll just take a big breath and try to sort it out. The car has been good, but the track conditions have changed so much since we last ran the setup, and that has made an impact on the handling."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps): "The car was pretty quick, and we were trying to do a qualifying run simulation when I white-walled the tires. It was due to wind. I had lifted already, and at that point there is not much you can do. You turn the wheel and you're off the throttle, and it's tough to get the front end back. Unfortunately I went a little wide and just touched the wall. We have a pretty good qualifying car, and we're ready for tomorrow. Obviously, we hope the wind dies down. I think we can be pretty quick."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream): "I am glad we got some track time today, but we struggled a lot to fix the problems on Formula Dream car. It is very frustrating that we couldn't figure out what was wrong with the car. We will look into all the data from today and try to sort out what we can to do to fix the problem. Hopefully we will have a better day tomorrow."

MILKA DUNO (No. 23 CITGO/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "We were working on both Race Day and qualifying trim. We did a lot of work today. We thought we were losing the balance on the car, but we got it back. We again have the car we like. We need a few more things for qualifying, but we'll see what happens tomorrow in the first practice before qualifying."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "Most of the morning, we worked on race trim. We were just trying to get it a little better. I think we're pretty close, and we're pretty happy. We'd like to do some more runs. I'd like to get in at least two or three more full tank runs before the race if I can. Tire (allotment) won't be an issue. We'll be OK. We did a qualifying run right there at the end. We did an OK time. We'll be OK. We just need to put it in the show tomorrow, get it over with, and call it a day. We're pretty happy with right all the way around with the Dreyer and Reinbold car."

TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 Dreyer & Reinbold William Rast Racing): "Obviously, I'd like to qualify 12th. That'd be a good goal. We're one of the stronger cars out there that hasn't qualified yet. We just need to be smart about it. It doesn't matter if you're 12th or 15th. As a racer, I'd like to be as high as I can. That's one less car I'd have to pass on the start."

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Hemelgarn Johnson): "Really, we didn't have the speed, but actually it was a very positive day. First of all, I would like to thank Ron (Hemelgarn) because this is a great opportunity even though it doesn't seem like it at the moment, because it was a last-minute, last-day (program), but it's not from a lack of trying. I was over with my guys, Dennis and Brandon, and it was 3:30 in the morning and we had just finished car setup. I left in the rain and came back at 10 a.m. the next day, and they had never left. They did real all-nighters. The fact that it's our first day on the racetrack, you can't get mad when everyone is giving it everything they have. The deal just came together a little bit late. It was actually a very positive day. We were working our platform, and we were just one step away, and we just ran out of time. I actually think we're quite a bit better than we showed, but improvement is in tomorrow's speed. It's not like it was an empty racetrack today. There was a lot of traffic. We were having some radio trouble, you know, all of the first day things. The team hasn't been back this year, so it's everything. I ran Craftsman Trucks all the way back to Las Vegas, which was only a few months ago. I race every week. This is the Indianapolis 500. It's so critical and so weather-sensitive, and there are so many elements. We did everything. There are no shortcuts. You can do shortcuts, but then you're going to pay the price in the race with not a good race car, not a good platform. We are very quickly, very rapidly going through the proper steps to be really good. I'm actually pleased. I'm disappointed with the speed, but I think we're going to accept this one. He (Manning) probably could have qualified last Sunday with 11 spots open, but for someone who c ame into it late, the weather played into our hands. You cou! ld be up as far as 12th if you have a good run. We were going to be battling for 22nd to 33rd tomorrow, but now it's all the way open to 12th. It's actually fallen into our hands. Give us a little more time, and we'll see what we got. I think we're going to be pretty good in the morning and lay down some quick ones."

MAX PAPIS (No. 44 Rubicon Race Team/Lifelock): "We seem like we lost a little bit today, but then we got it back later on in the last few runs. The wind impacted our performance a lot today. It made it really difficult to judge what the car was doing because the wind was blowing a lot. We'll look forward to going out tomorrow for practice and getting our qualifying car ready to go."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Delphi National Guard): "It was nice to see the sun again. Overall, it was another good day in the Delphi National Guard car. We kept working on what we started yesterday and really focused on running in traffic today. We experimented a lot. I felt comfortable, and the car was really strong when we ran with other cars. Today was the first day I got a real feel for what the race will be like, and I'm happy. We'll probably still run again tomorrow, but I already feel like we're going to have a great race car for the ‘500.'"

DARREN MANNING (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./AJ Foyt Racing): (About being ready for Saturday): "It's not like it was on Pole Day when you're trying to get in the top 11, so your approach is slightly different, or our approach is ever so slightly different. I'm not so aggressive for trying to get in the show. We're pretty comfortable that we're going to be in the show; it's just going to be a matter of where it's going to be between 12th and, probably, about 18th. There's quite a lot of us who are going to see who is going to risk the most. So this week, fortunately, we got some running yesterday and like four laps the day before that on Wednesday, or whatever day it was. Today we did just as much running as we wanted to do. Maybe we could have done a bit more, because the problem is now, we're in limbo-land. We're doing half qualifying stuff and half race trim. We're trying to do full race stu ff and go a little bit faster and seeing what the car is doing. It's actually been a difficult week, all in all. It's been good to have Jeff (Simmons) with us and have two sets of info to work with. That helped a lot today with the afternoon. We kind of put both heads together and came up with a setup, and it came out pretty good."

(About an early run on Saturday): "I think we're going to go. You know A.J. (Foyt) wants to, at least, put a four-lap run together for us. I think everybody is going to be thinking the same. I think we line up sixth in line, and it will actually quite good. Practice finishes up at 11:15, and we go out, be ready to go at 12:15, so it will be actually quite good for us to get out there early because the track will be very similar to that morning session."

(About pulling a qualified car to make another attempt): "If we're maybe in 30th spot or something because I had a big lift or a massive moment, but I don't see us taking th at much of a risk where I'm going to have to get out of it a! nd spoil a four-lap run. We'll put a four-lap run in cautious mode to begin with, and hopefully it's going to be enough to be in that 12th to 18th place or bracket, I should say. But if we think we've got a lot more and it's comfortable and I'm happy, we might go for a bit more, but hopefully we're going to be fastest of everybody else, and we'll be fine."

(About second year with A.J. Foyt): "The trust thing and the confidence thing, from his side, in me has grown. That has made the communications a lot easier. He's never easy. Even in the best of times with someone who speaks the same language as you, it's always going to be tough. We're both very competitive people. He's super-competitive because he's been doing it a lot longer than me, and I'm nearly getting sick of it now, so God knows what he must feel like after 50 years. But it's good, and it's nice to be coming back to these tracks with, at least, some setup information from last year. I thin k that's one of the big helps for us both."

(About adding Jeff Simmons): "It's difficult to quantify, really, because of the limited track time that we've had and Jeff's had. Today was an example of that. We were both kind of going our different ways. I had Mike, my engineer, and A.J. was on Jeff's car, getting him up to speed. We were both trying different things, and then we put the best of both worlds on my car and on his, and we both did pretty good times out there by ourselves with the amount of downforce that we were running. Like I was saying, it was kind of a semi-race, semi-qualifying setup. I'm pretty happy with where we are, and hopefully tomorrow we can get some more running in once we're qualified. Once we get that thing filled up with fuel and go race running, that's where I think Jeff will really help."

MARIO DOMINGUEZ (No. 96 Visit Mexico City/Pacific Coast Motorsports): "We got some practice in today, and we changed the car in many different ways. Once again, we learned a lot, but we are still not where we want to be in terms of speed. We are working on it. Obviously, tomorrow is a very important day, and we will maximize our options to get it in the show."

ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 98 CURB Records/hh gregg/Real Power): "It was great to finally get a decent day to run and a chance to put a serious number of laps on the car. The car is definitely improving and is much more comfortable to drive, so our speed gain is no real surprise. We're prepared to do more practice tomorrow, though, as we expect track conditions to change again due to another downturn in the weather, so not all of what we learned today will be useful information. We'll just have to see what develops, and if we make some big gains, we may just put it in line for a qualifying run."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Menards/Vision Racing): "The conditions were a little tricky today. Obviously, three guys had a problem today, which is the most in one day all month. We found ourselves chasing the car a little bit and the conditions somewhat, but I think we learned some good things. I was much happier at the end of the day than I was at the beginning. I think we're headed in the right direction, and we have some ideas of what to do to see some improvement. I'm confident we'll get it right when it needs to be right. We'll try to get in some more practice this weekend since we have plenty of Firestone tires. We'll run until we don't have any more tires to run. We're getting closer to where we want to be."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 2 Vision Racing): "At least we got a lot of track time to try different things. Nothing that great really happened by the end of the day, but it wasn't half-bad. We have a pretty average car right now that we are working on getting just a little better. First, we have to get qualified to get in the field solidly. We want to be up front as much as we can be. There's a spot on the fourth row I'd like to be in, but I think a starting spot in the fifth row is reasonable. I think we'll be all right for the race. We just have to figure out a few more things."

DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 22 Hewlett-Packard/KR Vision Racing): "Today was another productive day for the Vision team because we got to run all day, all three cars, and we got a lot of track time in. We tried a lot of different things, but I'll be honest, through the middle of the afternoon, my progress was a bit questionable even if we were running decent speeds, but the last run of the day felt really good. We ran race setup, race aero, race wings and everything for the race and pounded around in the 219-mph range. I'm still wishing for one more day of practice, and I'm not saying that we won't have that, but now we're switching gears. I want to get qualified and then go back to race mode again and make sure to fill it completely up and do a long run. That's the one thing we haven't yet been able to do. I feel like we do have a really good car, so I'm pretty happy right now."

(About expectations for qualifying): "We were 13th last week in qualifying, so I'd like to at least back that up. It's all going to be about conditions. Fast time tomorrow might just be a 221 mph or a 224 mph. Until we see what the weather is going to do, it'll be hard to tell. We'll see what the wind and temperature will be like. We're late in the draw, so I hope it's really windy for everyone else and it calms down by the time it's my time to go. We could end up anywhere from 12th to 20th. I think that's a fair expectation of the range we'll qualify, but I sure would like to be in the top spot for a 12th-place starting position."

SARAH FISHER (No. 67 Team ResQ/Gravity Entertainment): "We are definitely better than we were yesterday, consistency-wise. The car is predictable, but I don't like everything right now, so we definitely need to get some more laps in traffic. We should have a good, solid run tomorrow, keeping the race car in focus."

***

A total of 40 cars are currently at the Speedway and have passed technical inspection. Thirty-seven drivers have been on the track to date and have turned 10,387 laps this month. Oriol Servia turned 94 laps today and has turned 439 this month, most of any driver. There were six yellow flags for 1 hour, 6 minutes. A total of 96 IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights drivers have passed physicals at the Clarian Emergency Medical Center.

***

SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
8 a.m. Public Gates Open
10:15-11:15 a.m. IndyCar Series practice
Noon-6 p.m. Third Day Qualifying

***

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.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Helio Castroneves , Max Papis , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Oriol Servia , Graham Rahal , Sam Schmidt , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Will Power , Phil Giebler , James Davison , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Danica Patrick
Teams Williams , Panther Racing , Team Penske , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing , KV Racing Technology , Dragon Racing