RAIN WASHES OUT SECOND-DAY QUALIFYING AT THE INDIANAPOLIS 500 22 spots up for grabs Saturday, May 17 INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 11, 2008 - Twenty-two starting positions for the 92nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 remain up for grabs as rain...
RAIN WASHES OUT SECOND-DAY QUALIFYING AT THE INDIANAPOLIS 500
22 spots up for grabs Saturday, May 17
INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 11, 2008 - Twenty-two starting positions for the 92nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 remain up for grabs as rain washed out Second Day Qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Qualifications will continue May 17 when spots 12-33 will be filled. Bump Day is scheduled for May 18.
This is the first time a qualification day has been rained out since 2006, but it's the third day this month that rain has forced the cancellation of all on-track activity.
Scott Dixon won the PEAK Motor Oil Pole May 10 for the Indianapolis 500 as the first 11 starting positions of the 33-car grid were filled. Dixon averaged 226.366 mph over a four-lap qualifying attempt, .256 mph faster than his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dan Wheldon.
Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon put Target Chip Ganassi Racing on the front row for the second consecutive race on the oval at Indianapolis. Last July, Reed Sorenson and Juan Pablo Montoya started 1-2 in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
Indianapolis 500 veteran Roberto Moreno was walking Gasoline Alley on Pole Day, checking the prospects for a drive in the 92nd Indianapolis 500. Moreno placed 33rd last year, his first start at Indianapolis since 1999.
ROBERTO MORENO: "I'm here looking. If there is a situation that I can jump in, I will jump in, in no time."
(Thoughts on open-wheel unification): "I think it was very important for open-wheel racing. I think that there is still a lot to do, to get the good, old sponsors back into the game and to make the series at the level that it was in 1995. But I hope that we get somewhere close to it and the drivers be as successful as they use to be."
KV Racing drivers spent their down time in Gasoline Alley today with practical jokes, which included an electronic noise maker that Oriol Servia used to embarrass teammate Will Power during an interview in their garage.
The noise maker, which was operated by a remote control that Servia was carrying, interrupted Power's interview and sent him into hysterics that concluded the questioning. Power apologized to the interviewer and explained where the noises were really coming from.
ORIOL SERVIA: "It's just something we have to do to entertain ourselves on days like today."
Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, IRL senior director of medical services: After further evaluation, Dale Coyne Racing crew member Charles Buckman will be kept at Methodist Hospital for observation.
Two Rahal Letterman Racing mechanics en route to team's headquarters in Hilliard, Ohio, to repair the damaged car of Ryan Hunter-Reay were involved in an accident of their own. Mike Kranz and Jim Volini were uninjured in the collision with a deer on Interstate 70. Their car, however, needed to be towed nearly 100 miles to the shop.
CURB/Agajanian/Beck Motorsports will decide between Alex Barron and Roger Yasukawa as its driver this month, team owner Greg Beck said Sunday.
INDYCAR SERIES RAINOUT QUOTES:
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology): "It's a little tough. We had rain all week, so we couldn't test as many things as we wanted. The main thing about raining today, we're going to have to go qualifying next weekend, which means that this next week, instead of focusing 100 percent on race setup, we're going to have to think of qualifying setup for the weekend. So it's going to be a matter of having good planning and hoping for the best. I know we have the speed to qualify, so it's no big deal. It just kind of screws with the planning. It complicates things. Also, the days that you don't run, they drain you. You're here working with engineers, and you're in that room all day just talking, and you're here to drive and try things. So it's a little tough, but again, it's the same for the guys in other garages, so you just have to make the best of it."
(About how rain days are spent): "I'm actually going to use the day to do a new seat. I doing a new seat. I need a spare seat. We haven't got time to make it. You've always got things to do. You work with engineers and stuff. There's always work."
(About team owner Jimmy Vasser racing at Laguna Seca in a Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series race with Cristiano da Matta): "I'll be watching very much. Not only is my team owner and friend racing, but he's also racing with Cristiano, which is another really close friend of ours. They have a great car, and I think they have a good shot at winning. Maybe we're asking too much, but it would be really good."
WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyard-Team Australia):
(On the feeling of being able to run with the top 11 qualifiers): "We were probably missing a mile an hour, but yesterday it was worth giving a couple of (qualifying) attempts. We knew it was going to rain today, so we tried to learn a little more about the car."
(On week's preparation): "I think we'll spend the majority of the time focusing on the race because that is the most important thing. You don't want to miss out on qualifying and screw yourself. I don't think we are that far off, and I think we'll qualify in the top 22. I'm just so proud of my guys. They never stop working, and I'm almost glad it's a rain day where they can go home early and take a couple of days off. I think we are the best of the transition teams, and we're catching these other guys slowly, but we are getting there."
(On Indianapolis oval compared to Homestead and Kansas ovals): "This is a lot different. This is like four really fast corners, and it hasn't got much banking. It's almost similar to a road course, and I'm loving it. It's made me really enjoy ovals, and it's helped me to understand the car and I'm enjoying myself. When you are enjoying yourself, you do well."
BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "We felt we had a good setup for qualifying, especially after Wednesday's practice, but we were a little confused on Friday because the car didn't continue to improve. Then it happened again on Saturday morning when the conditions were nearly perfect. So we found out that the clutch was going and it caused the engine to slow. So, we were anxious to get out today. Now, we'll work on getting the car set in race trim. I still believe I have a very good qualifying car, but it is time to work on race setup. We'll be able to get in the field on Saturday. We just wanted a shot at the top 11, and we didn't get that chance on Saturday."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 18 The Z-Line Car): "I would have loved to qualify today. I think we will qualify the No. 19 Z-Line Designs car next Saturday. Hopefully this week we can get some more practice in and be ready to go first thing Saturday morning."
MARIO MORAES (No. 19 The SONNY Car): "I'm dissappointed that we can't make another qualifying attempt today. The team has done a great job giving me a good car, and hopefully I can reward them by putting the car into the race next weekend."
MILKA DUNO (No. 23 CITGO/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "It is too bad we couldn't run today. We were faster on Saturday, and the car is feeling much better for me each day we run. Working with Buddy (Rice) and Townsend (Bell) has been very good for me. Buddy has won the Indy 500, and he knows the path around here. Townsend is very fast, too. So talking to them has been great. I feel so comfortable working with the Dreyer & Reinbold team this year. They have treated me very good. I look forward to getting back on the track on Wednesday."
DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 22 Hewlett-Packard/KR Vision Racing): "It's pretty frustrating not to have gotten into the top 11 yesterday by less than a tenth of a second, and then have Day 2 Qualifying rained out and not be assured a spot on the grid yet. But you know, we gave it all we had. I can't look back and say we should have done something different because that was the best we had. With the rain today and having to wait until next week is not ideal by any stretch of the imagination, but we'll work on race setups this week and then put the car in the show where we can in the next day of qualifying. We're probably just going to start working on race modes for next week, get a race setup on the car and start working on race modes, then worry just worry about qualifying next week."
(Regarding yesterday's run and comfort level with the car right now): "Yeah, you know it was an interesting run. It's probably the hardest run I've done here in my years, and it didn't count. That's the disappointing part of it. I'll be real honest with you; I don't like the system the way it is, personally. I think that it would have been much more exciting for the fans to see 20 or 22 cars be in this field yesterday and still have the option to be able to withdraw your car and go for the pole. I think that us guys; that are especially, when we're running those cars, we're out there hangin' our butts out to try to be as fast as we can. And if we want to keep that time we should be able to. The risk-reward, I don't think, is favorable for this system."
(So, next week you focus mainly on race setup?): "The race is what counts. We need to put race setups on the car and get out there and hopefully have a good race day. I know I would have been in a great position yesterday if our qualifying would have just counted. But who knows what happens next week, and we do it all over again and the risk is back up again. I'll tell you what: Qualifying here is the toughest thing in motorsports, in any kind of racing. It's not easy because you have to be trimmed out; you have to be fast. So, like I say, the race is what counts."
JAIME CAMARA (No. 34 Sangari): "This rain is going to change the whole plan for the month, but it also is sort of helping us because last week it helped us following my crash to get the cars ready, and today's it's helping us rebuild our 34 car that I crashed last week so that we can use it on Wednesday. But at the same time, we don't have a lot of track time left before the race, and we still have to work on qualifying. We are going to sit down with the engineers, but I think that we will focus on our qualifying all of this week and then focus more on the race during Miller Lite Carb Day. That is the challenge for everybody that is going to qualify the second week, but it is what it is, and we have to do the best with what we have and just try to reach our goals now."
MAX PAPIS (No. 44 Rubicon Race Team/Lifelock): "It is going to be the same for everybody, except for the first 11 guys that actually can sleep soundly next week. For us and the other 22 guys, we are in the same boat. We will have to dedicate a little time to qualifying setup next week and most of the time to the race setup. This rain delay, definitely, it hurts a smaller team more than anything else, because a smaller team needs more time to work and get the car tuned up. You can't make it up in a short time period without possible disaster."
SARAH FISHER (No. 67 Team ResQ/Gravity Entertainment): "Well, it's disappointing for everybody. We don't have many laps, but we've been able to go pretty fast even though we have no experience as a team together. We're doing a pretty good job, and I think as long as we stick to the plan we have right now, we're going to be OK. Our focus will be on race trim completely now. Time's up. We don't have a whole lot of track time to be out there squandering around working on qualifying trim. There's just not enough time to do that. We have to make as best use of our time as we can, and it looks like we're going to look pretty good to compete in the race, so we're going to have to refocus our direction."
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 Dreyer & Reinbold William Rast Racing): "We really wanted to get into the top 11 on Saturday. We knew we would be close. Tried to take a big step with the chassis to get more speed, and it didn't work. So we are going to work on several things in practice this week. We know we can get in the field this weekend. So we'll concentrate on the race setup in our upcoming practice runs. We need to keep our heads down and keep focused on the race. That why we came here. I think the Dreyer & Reinbold organization is growing and developing a good platform. We have added some good sponsors this year like William Rast, EMU Australia and Herbalife to the program. Now we need to continue to improve the organization."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team): "It's quite frustrating not being able to run today, but that's how it is. You can't change the weather. We (Justin and Graham) both realize how close we came to getting in the top 11, and that's quite an achievement considering where we started out. We are slowly making progress. We didn't expect to be able to get in the race on the first day, and we were both really close, so that is encouraging. As far as our agenda this week, I presume we will validate a couple of little things we have changed on the car for qualifying and then switch over to race setup and make sure the McDonald's car works well in traffic and is consistent over the longer runs. We need to split time; then we will switch it back for qualifying later in the week and get ready for Saturday qualifying. Now I have experienced qualifying. You know what happens you know how the car works. It's good to get that experience, especially seeing as I wasn't expecting to qualify yesterday so I didn't put too much pressure on myself It was nice to go out there and run four laps flat out and not feel like I was going to crash. Hopefully we can repeat that come Saturday and be the best of the second qualifying group. Due to the rain, I will have two nights at home instead of one. I'm looking forward to seeing (my wife) Julia and (newborn daughter) Jane again."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps): "Obviously, it's really no different for us. We're going to focus this week, I would imagine, on race setup. And come next Saturday. I feel, after yesterday, we feel pretty comfortable that we can solidly be in the field, so we'll take a little wing out Saturday morning and go for it. I think we really need to focus on having a good race car here. Of course, qualifying is important, but the race is what it really comes down to. I feel pretty comfortable out there. Yesterday, in qualifying especially, the car was really good, and I was really happy with it. Obviously, we need to find a little more speed, but yeah, I'm perfectly fine with it. I'm looking forward to the race. If there's one thing in the IndyCar Series that I'm still getting used to, it's the traffic on the ovals. It's certainly taking awhile, but I'm looking forward to taking it out there in the race and seeing how it is."
(About plans for Mother's Day): "My mom keeps calling me, so I'd better go find her. She's here somewhere, I would imagine."
(What will you do with a day off?): "Now that we have the day off, I'm going to go shopping for some golf equipment for a golf tournament I will be in tomorrow at Brickyard Crossing."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 2 Vision Racing): "Unfortunately we didn't get to run today and get our car in the show. Obviously we could relax a little more this week if we were in there solidly, but now we'll just have to wait until next weekend to get the car in. I would have loved to have qualified yesterday, today, or even tomorrow, but we just have to deal with the rules and the schedule like everyone else and take care of it next weekend. For now, I just hope the weather clears up for Wednesday so we can get back on track and then again for next weekend when it's time to qualify."
(About plans this week): "This week we'll just focus on getting our race setup nailed down and then worry about going back to our qualifying setup once we get closer to qualifying again. We're confident that we can get in the race and while we want to get the best starting spot possible, we also know that this race is 500 miles long and having a good car for each one of those miles is what really matters."
(About spin during qualifying run Saturday): "We went into our qualifying run, and the car was a lot more loose than I expected it to be. When I got it up to speed, it just wasn't coming off the corner like I wanted in Turn 3, and I spun sideways. Luckily, I spun late in the corner so I didn't hit anything, but it was unfortunate because we ended up not getting the car in the field yesterday. You just do the best you can in that situation and try and hold it straight for as long as you can. You just do your best to try and keep the car off the wall, but really 90 percent of it is luck, so I can't take too much credit for the save."
BRIAN BARNHART: (President, Competition and Operations, Indy Racing League): "We were scheduled to do second day of qualifying today and do positions 12-22 on the grid. Those 11 positions will be added to the 11 that were scheduled for next Saturday. So next Saturday, the third day of qualifications we will do positions 12-33 and move to 22 cars next Saturday and then bump the slowest car in the field beginning on Sunday, the fourth day of qualifications. It's really unfortunate. We didn't have to have this conversation last year. It's a shame because it certainly alters everyone's plans for the week. It's been a bit of a challenge losing both Wednesday and Thursday and a half day Friday and now Sunday. The teams are going to be really anxious to get some quality track time Wednesday through Friday and even in between qualification runs next weekend. I anticipate a lot of track activity as teams are working on full tanks in preparation for the 92nd Running (of the Indianapolis 500)."
(About the qualifying format): "I think the format the last couple of years has played out very well. I think it's created a lot of excitement, drama, and I think it places a premium on strategic decisions and thoughts of the team manager, the drivers. Qualifying around here, the lowest downforce configuration, on the edge as much as possible, is not the easiest situation to put drivers in. And to put them in that situation to do it multiple times - a guy felt like he did a good job, gets a good run, could be sitting third or fourth on the grid, and then they make a decision, 'OK, we're going to pull this out, and you're going to do it again,' it puts a lot of pressure on that driver. I thought they all responded very well. It's good excitement, and I think it plays out well."
(About additional cars next week): "I think with the 33 that have run so far, I think there are at least three or four that are scheduled short programs that begin next Wednesday. I think you'll probably see a second Foyt car come out. Greg Beck is scheduled to start running; he hasn't named a driver yet. Hemelgarn will come back with 1996 Indy 500 winner Buddy Lazier. American Dream Racing has talked about doing a program, as well. So, I think you might see us up around 37 combinations by the end of next weekend."
(Has there been any thought about incorporating some veteran time in those first two days and not taking away track time from the rookies?): "We certainly do give a lot of thought to it, and the reason we do it the way we do it is not based around Indianapolis as much as it is based around the events leading into Indianapolis. With the IndyCar Series schedule, we open the season at Homestead on a Saturday night and the following weekend, you are at St. Petersburg with a road street race and the following weekend you are loading the equipment for Motegi on the airplanes. The following weekend you are racing Motegi and the next weekend you are racing at Kansas. The next weekend is the weekend you are talking about which is ROP. To make it six weeks in a row, we want to try and give the majority of teams as much preparation time for the Indianapolis 500 month as possible. So the lowest is the number of rookie teams so you make them start running on Sunday and Monday and give everyone else as much time for preparations as possible. If we would start on Sunday with all cars just coming off of that schedule leading into it, it gives less preparation time for all teams leading in to the Month of May. So that is why do it that way, and unfortunately, the weather came and you look at all that, the stability, the rules package that we run. We ran 1,300 laps on Tuesday with all cars when they ran. I think Tony Kanaan's third lap by was 224.9. I mean, he has a pretty good feel for the place. The stability of the package, and they come out prepared and have a pretty good understanding of what to expect. There are so few variables from one year to the next with what we have on it right now. When you look at it, they are focused, and the first week is qualifying. They are going to come into it now and even though we didn't get 12-22 filled today, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, you are going to see a lot of runs. They have a lot of tires, they get 35 sets for the month of May. That is going to make for a lot of activity. You are going to see so many laps around here on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with focus on Race Day and preparations for that, it's to going to be a very busy second weekend."
(How much of a hardship will be on the teams that are worrying about qualifying and preparing for the race?): "I don't think it is going to be that bad, because there are six hours a day of practice each of those three days. You have 18 hours of practice, plus the practice time that will be available over the weekend, as well. They will have to manage it wisely and consider who they are running. I anticipate that you will see some scenarios, maybe not on Wednesday, but on Thursday, you will have some pretty big groups of cars running, maybe eight or 10 cars running together, which is going to be cooperation between multiple teams going out there. If you are a team that is working on your qualifying setup and you see that going, you are not going to go out there and interact with that. You are going to have low downforce, and you are not going to mess with that kind of turbulence. It is just a matter of being smart of when you are doing what you are doing. You are going to work on both. If you want to focus on the full race stuff, you are going to load it up with downforce and have a run with them, but if not you are going to wait and try to find your own space on the 2.5-mile track. It certainly provides that opportunity for a guy like Greg Beck as he puts a driver in his car and gets a second week program going or even Sarah Fisher, who has done a real nice job. Even though she is in a full-month program, she has kind of had limited track time in addition to the weather delays, as well, and yet she ran 224 or 224.5 yesterday morning and if she gets that thing dialed in she might find herself somewhere in the fourth or fifth row, maybe. It certainly provided that as an opportunity. Due to the rain delays, with the mileage situation and 35 sets of tires, you are going to see plenty of running next week. If things stay dry the whole month, tires are your main restrictor on the things you do with 35 sets."
JOIE CHITWOOD: (President & COO, Indianapolis Motor Speedway): "At this point, after much consultation with Brian (Barnhart) and after looking at the requirements he would need to have qualifying today as well practice and what it would take to dry the track in these types of conditions- with 50 degrees, high winds and what seems like a swirling rain storm that's not leaving us, we've canceled all activities for today. And so as of this point, we won't have qualifications or practice."
(About Pole Day): "I was very pleased. I think two years ago we got to see a great show, as well, and I think the format is still in its infancy, and there's a lot more to do but to see not only the drama of pulling out really when you're already in a good spot to go for it again just shows you the gamesmanship of some of those teams. Some of us would rather be seeing a team like (Tomas) Scheckter's car 12 try to strengthen their position in the 11 slots. I think it was a great show, and I was really pleased with the attendance yesterday. I think that the fans here and the community were dying to come out to see some track activity, and it was really nice that we could finally give them a good day yesterday."
(About combining qualifying days): "We thought long and hard this weekend when we came up with our plan but having four days of qualifications on the schedule, we have the opportunity then to push these 11 slots back to next Saturday. I think when you deal with something like that you go with your last resort. As for team schedules, this Month of May calendar has been published for I don't know how long, but some of our teams are going to go back to probably North Carolina, Chicago, but with having two additional qualification days on the calendar, it makes no sense just to push these 11 slots back to next Saturday."
(What was attendance?): "As much as I know you would love for me to tell you numbers and talk about actual attendance, we don't really do that here at the Speedway. I will tell you that I was ecstatic with the crowd yesterday. I was a little bit nervous early in the morning. About 8:30 a.m., I was in Pagoda Command and looking at the cameras that we actually have stationed to look at the traffic out on 16th and Crawfordsville and I thought to myself, 'maybe people think it's still going to rain today or something.' But by 11 a.m., we had some great traffic, as much as you can call traffic great. I was pleased because there were a lot of people lined up to come in. I thought there was great energy yesterday. I think they were ready for a show because we've had so many positive story lines leading into this event. I'm not surprised we've had interest and people showing up. When you think back to a great list of Helio (Castroneves) winning 'Dancing with the Stars,' unification, Graham Rahal winning a race, Danica (Patrick) winning, it's such positive story lines, great young talent, competitive field. The crowd met my expectations based on what I thought we would do because we've got such great story lines going into the month."
BOBBY RAHAL (Co-owner, Rahal Letterman Racing): "It's not just Pole Day, rather the whole week. The weather was good then turned very bad for a couple of days, putting a lot of pressure on us Friday. I don't care what anybody says, first day of qualifying at Indianapolis is the most pressure-packed day in motorsports. It was probably more nerve-wracking for me than it was for Graham (Rahal). He's pretty much seen a lot of it his first year. We'll see what happens this next week and what we really came for, which is the race."
(About Ryan Hunter-Reay's accident): "I felt bad for Ryan because we relatively have had a good week. First Friday Alex (Lloyd) crashed. Thankfully he is OK. That is never needed, especially come Friday, the day before qualifying. But now the way that qualifying is now in the old days, you had one shot at it. But they did not limit it to the top 11. Now with the qualifying, the situation exists to where you get multiple tries. Sometimes I am not sure if that is good. But it is good for the spectators, no question for the viewing audience. But for the teams, I'm not sure. It really makes you take a little different approach. For Ryan, we want to do everything we could to get him in that top 11, and we were close. We went out and made some changes in practice. I thought we had a chance. On the first lap, I saw that he only did a 223.0 mph. I had my guys wave him off on the next time by. But of course, we didn't get to that point. I am pleased that Ryan is OK. No injuries to him. We have the spare and are ready to go. It will not really create any hiccups. But would have loved to have gotten in yesterday and focused totally this next week on race setups. But that is the way it goes."
ERIC BACHELART (Owner, Conquest Racing): "We have been using the rain to catch up after the accident we had last Monday, so today we are continuing to rebuild (Jaime) Camara's damaged car. We are just taking this time to recover from the accident and improve our cars."
(About splitting staff to rebuild one car while preparing the other for qualifying): "We have two situations here, so we are trying to improve some detail in the qualifying car and as far as Camara's car, we are rebuilding his primary car that he will use on Wednesday."
(About experience): "This is the second time for us that we have come to Indy as a team, but it's a different situation for us than when we came here in 2002. In 2002, the car was fast right away on the first day, and all we had to do what keep those speeds from day to day. Now we have not been fast out of the box, but of course, the accident from Camara has been a big penalty for us. We had so little time to prepare before the season, so we come to Indy, and the accident has now put us back in our preparation and focus. I think we're going to be fine next week, but the weather is actually helping us be where we want to be. We're still working hard today to put two good cars out on the track."
A total of 37 cars are currently at the Speedway and have passed technical inspection. Thirty-four drivers have been on the track to date and have turned 5,205 laps this month. A total of 96 IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights drivers have passed physicals at the Clarian Emergency Medical Center.
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.