HORNISH LEADS FINAL DAY OF PRACTICE BEFORE POLE DAY INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 18, 2006 -- Marlboro Team Penske driver Sam Hornish Jr. continued to top the speed charts as teams prepared to run for the WorldPoints Visa Pole Award for the 90th...
HORNISH LEADS FINAL DAY OF PRACTICE BEFORE POLE DAY
INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 18, 2006 -- Marlboro Team Penske driver Sam Hornish Jr. continued to top the speed charts as teams prepared to run for the WorldPoints Visa Pole Award for the 90th Indianapolis 500.
Hornish, who led practice for the sixth time in seven practice days, posted the day's quickest lap of 39.4867 seconds, 227.925 mph in his No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon (227.322 mph) and Dan Wheldon (227.040 mph) posted the second- and third-fastest laps, respectively, with Helio Castroneves (226.654 mph) fourth. Defending pole winner Tony Kanaan (226.104 mph) was fifth-fastest.
Drivers turned more than 2,300 laps on the 2.5-mile oval, including Roger Yasukawa, who stepped in for Jon Herb at Playa Del Racing. Rahal Letterman Racing's Jeff Simmons was uninjured in the day's only incident -- a spin in Turn 1 late in the day.
On this date in 2002, the field for the 86th Running of the Indianapolis 500 was the fastest in the history of the Indianapolis 500. The field average of 228.648 was faster than the previous record set of 227.807 in 1996.
In celebration of the 90th Running of the Indianapolis 500, various personalities associated with "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" will give their favorite "500" memories. Here's today's memory:
DR. JERRY PUNCH (ESPN/ABC broadcaster): "It was my first 500 as a broadcaster on the network, and I'll never forget how much class Al Unser Jr. had coming out of the care center after he and Emerson (Fittapaldi) touched and sent Al into the wall. He had so much pressure on him to win the 500 because his father and uncle had won so many times there. When I interviewed him after the crash, he said that he knew his day would come and that Emerson would never do something like that on purpose. Under the circumstances, I thought he handled himself with incredible class, and it was a great way for me to start my 500 career."
Did you know?: The most Indianapolis 500 pole positions by a single car number are 13 (Car #1). Michael Andretti will carry the number in this year's Indianapolis 500.
Ethanol will present $2,500 to the driver who records the fastest lap on five practice days during the Month of May. The "Ethanol Fastest Lap" will be presented May 10, 11, 17, 18 and 26. In addition to the ethanol awards, Cholula Hot Sauce will award $15,000 to the driver who completes the Fastest Lap of the Day on May 19.
ETHANOL FASTEST LAP WINNERS:
May 10 Sam Hornish Jr. 226.056 mph
May 11 Sam Hornish Jr. 226.789 mph
May 17 Sam Hornish Jr. 224.381 mph
May 18 Sam Hornish Jr. 224.951 mph
Penske Racing Inc. engineers Thomas German, Justin Horning and Tom Janiczek received the 40th annual BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer Award this morning in a press conference in the Trackside Conference Room for their design of a tool to quickly adjust the rear-wing angle on an IndyCar Series car during a pit stop.
A mechanism to permit movement of the wing was designed, as well as a novel, battery operated power tool that allows the left-rear tire changer to make the adjustment within two seconds during a pit stop.
The tool functions much like a cordless nut driver. The device is a straight power tool, about 15.7 inches (400 mm) long, and includes commercially available components housed in a billet aluminum body with a carbon-fiber battery case. The device is self-contained, and the prescribed rotation is activated upon engagement with the wing adjustor screw. The motor and clutch are sized to deliver sufficient torque to move the wing in actual race conditions.
The Indianapolis 500 is the only event in which rear-wing angle changes are allowed by Indy Racing League rules.
It's the fourth time that Penske engineers or designers have won the prestigious annual award, as the company won in 1980, 1982 and 1993 for chassis designs.
This prestigious award is sponsored by BorgWarner and presented by the Indiana Section of SAE International in honor of early racing pioneer and past Indiana Section Chairman Louis Schwitzer. This year, BorgWarner has doubled the winner's cash prize to $10,000.
German announced that Rose-Hulman Institute in Terre Haute, Ind., will receive a $2,000 scholarship from SAE International. The $1,000 scholarship was doubled because German is a past participant in the Formula SAE program.
TOM GERMAN (Engineer, Penske Racing): "Penske Racing is honored to accept the 2006 Louis Schwitzer Award. This award has a long history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and we're honored to accept it for the fourth time." (About tool's use): "We're always looking to make changes to the car to compensate for changes during the race. In the past, we had the same amount of downforce at the start and finish of the race. Now we can adjust the downforce during the race and hopefully extend our lead. This is the first race this tool will be used. Rear-wing angle can only be changed at this race, so this tool was designed for this race." (About legality of tool): "We have looked at the parameters allowed by the IRL. I don't foresee any issues there." (About level of adjustability provided by tool): "We can change one-half degree if we like. We can change up to 3 degrees." (About advantages gained by tool): "The key difference is that in the past you would not make wing adjustments because you'd lose too much time."
SAM HORNISH JR. (Driver, Penske Racing): "When I came to Penske Racing, you see all of the things they do above and beyond the other teams. That's Penske Racing. Roger (Penske) gives you all the tools you need. And when he doesn't give you the tools, he gives you the people who can make the tools. It's unbelievable to see what Penske Racing is going to come up with next." (Can you feel a downforce change from the rear wing?): "You can feel that change, even coming out of the pits."
STEVE HOLMAN (Chairman, BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer Award committee): "This year's winner may be the holy grail of downforce adjustments."
As part of Coca-Cola Throwback Day, three 90th Running "Shacks" will offer classic concession items at vintage prices from 11 a.m. -2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Classic items, such as ham sandwiches, peanuts, apples, fountain drinks and an ice cream sundae cups will be offered for 25 cents each while supplies last.
Several drivers entered in this year's Indianapolis 500 gave their prediction for the speed necessary to win the WorldPoints Visa Card Pole Award.
BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Argent Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "Probably 226s (mph) or something. It depends on the weather, but I think 226 (mph). (Marlboro Team Penske) might have 227 (mph) in their cars. We'll find out. But they definitely have 226's (mph) over there."
AIRTON DARE (No. 88 OCTANE Motors/Sanitec/SSM Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "I think 227 (mph) will be a good speed."
P.J. CHESSON (No. 91 Carmelo Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "228 (mph)"
LARRY FOYT (No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I don't know. We saw some guys around 228 (mph). The weather has been so crazy here, it all depends on the wind and temperature. But I think you'll see 228 (mph) or 229 (mph)."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "High 228 (mph)."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboto Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It will depend on conditions. But we're looking at between 228 (mph) and 229 (mph), for sure."
ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 61 Luyendyk Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "I think a high 227 mph."
MAX PAPIS (No. 52 Cheever Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I don't really guess. It's super-difficult to really think. You will be surprised from the speed that is going to be posted tomorrow. It will be a lot faster than you think. Closer to 230 (mph) than 225 (mph).
The IMS Radio Network will provide live coverage of The Run for the WorldPoints Visa Card Pole on Coca-Cola Throwback Day from noon-6 p.m. (ET) Saturday, May 20 on www.indycar.com.
IMS Radio Network affiliates and XM Satellite Radio channel 145 (IndyCar Racing) will provide live coverage from noon-1 p.m. and 5-6 p.m. Saturday.
ESPN will provide TV coverage from 5-6 p.m. (ET) and 7-10 p.m. Saturday, while ESPN360 will provide live coverage online from noon-5 p.m.
A total of 49 cars are at the Speedway. Forty-five have passed technical inspection. Thirty-five drivers have been on the track to date and have turned a total of 8,094 laps this month. A total of 77 drivers have passed physical examinations at the Clarian Medical Center. There were seven cautions today for a total of 1 hour, 21 minutes.
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third-fastest driver): "It was a busy day, to tell you the truth. We had to work very hard on the race car. With Pole Day being pushed back a week, you come up against how many sets of tires do you save for Pole Day and how many runs do you allow yourself in race trim with full fuel. I think we balanced that out pretty well. The car definitely improved a lot today in the race trim. Qualifying trim, I think the car definitely has the potential to be on the pole, but I can't quite make it last as long as Hornish's. I watched him do a run of I think 227.1, 227.2, 227.1, 227.2, so his average is right there in the 227s, and I can't do that right now, so that's what we're just working toward. We understand why we can't do that, and we're going to try and fix it. I'm sure he's got more. He's been very quick the whole month. I'm pretty happy with where we're at, but we seem to be one step behind. We're going to give it everything we've got to get pole tomorrow, and obviously when you do that, you can put yourself in a position to gain that step back. So that's what we're going to do." (About his guess at pole speed): "I think looking at today, I would hazard a guess, depending on weather conditions if they were similar to today, I think an average around 227.5 would be pretty good. Maybe a bit more than that." (About tomorrow): "I don't think you'll see many people go out when they're supposed to, or they won't follow the line. I think you'll see the line's going to go so quick, you can get through it now pretty much in 2 1/2 hours because nobody has T cars and stuff like that. I think you'll see people let the line go through, and then people will start testing. I'm pretty sure that the pole speed won't be laid down until later in the day."
JEFF SIMMONS (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Panoz/Honda/Firestone, ninth-fastest driver): "I'm OK, just upset. It is unfortunate because we did a lot of good work with the race setup. I was able to run some consistent times in the race setup and it felt good. We ran in some traffic, and the car handled well. We have a backup car, but I have to check and see if we can bring it out for qualifying. This was the same car that I clipped the inside wall with last week. Right now I'm just upset. We'll have to see what the weekend holds now for Team Ethanol."
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 90 Rock & Republic Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 10th-fastest driver): "It's really nice to be in the top 10 again, and it's apparent the team has given me a great car heading into tomorrow's qualifying. I felt a lot more comfortable in the car today when I worked on the race setup, which is really the most important thing. Tomorrow's qualifying should be a great day for Vision Racing."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second-fastest driver): "It's been kind of long. Obviously with the weather being so bad, it's been hard for the teams to try and work out what to do with the cars. I think a lot of us focused on full tanks this morning, and then there's a bit of a layover to transfer the cars into qualifying setup. I was pretty happy. The race car was pretty good right out of the box this morning. I think we were a little light on downforce, and Dan proved a bit later when you put some in the car it was a lot better to drive. That's always nice. The car's pretty consistent. We've still got a bit of work to do to try to beat the Penskes." (About seeing someone else consistently be a bit faster): "Sam did a lot of qualifying sims today, and we sort of realized that tomorrow's going to be a bit different, so we wanted to save the tires. We trimmed out, but didn't really get to run. Our first run was pretty conservative, and Dan's was pretty conservative as well, so I think everybody's probably got a little bit left on the table."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth-fastest driver): "I would be happy to be in the first three rows. It's hard to say where we'll be because there were so many cars out there today that even if you tried to do a qualifying simulation on your own, you might be getting a draft from someone, so you're only fooling yourself. We'll see. We'll shoot for the first three rows. I've never started worse than fifth since I've been coming here, and I'd like to keep that tradition. But if we can't, we'll just make it up in the race."
KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone, seventh-fastest driver): "I think the engineers and mechanics did a really good job. Early this afternoon, we worked a little bit more on our race setup. After 4:30, we trimmed out to do some qualifying simulations. The car felt very, very comfortable and that gave me a lot of confidence. I don't think qualifying will be a problem for us. I think we will be able to finish in the top 10 pretty easily. Penske and Ganassi are definitely ahead of everybody, but we finished the day sixth and seventh and were the third quickest team up until the final minutes of practice when Tony (Kanaan) got a good lap in."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Honda/Firestone, sixth-fastest driver): "We had a good day. We continued to work on the race setup, and I think that went pretty well. We got into qualifying mode and ran some pretty good speeds right out of the box. I think we still have some more in it. Tomorrow morning should be fun."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth-fastest driver): "Pretty much the same as everyone else: working on race setup at the beginning, and then towards the end, putting the qualifying setup on. There were scary moments out there, sometimes, but we were able to do a good lap. I don't think we're right there, a lot of up and down, so we decided to just wait for the right time tomorrow and continue working." (Any dark horses from other teams that we should be looking for?): "Looking at the other cars, you see people getting close. Vitor (Meira), he was running good laps, and Tony (Kanaan) put up some good laps at the end as well. You never know. Let me tell you, this place here, you never know."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest driver of the day): "Really looking forward to tomorrow's qualifying runs, hopefully we can get everything in and get an opportunity to get qualifying over with. It's a week overdue, and we're really looking forward to seeing what can happen. I think it's going to be a great battle between the four guys up here, and you never know who might also jump up there and give us a good run for the pole." (Do you feel your teammate or the Target teammates have shown their hand yet?): "Definitely not. I don't think anybody has shown his complete hand yet. Yeah, I was out there just trying to find a draft and get as big of a lap as I could out there. (Laughter) Everybody's trying to get as close as they can right now because when you get down to it, tomorrow you're only going to have a little bit of time to make those adjustments. You're not going to have all the time in the world like we did today where you could go out there and continue to make adjustments and tweak on the car. Tomorrow's going to be a little more quick pace (in practice), at least the first time around. You have to have an idea of what you're going to do, and what kind of affects it's going to have on the car. And whether these guys have shown everything: No, I guarantee you they haven't."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, eighth-fastest driver): "We made a lot of improvements, and we still have a little bit to go. We still have to optimize a little bit with what we have. We put everything we have together for qualifying, and overall it was a good day. Our goal is the first two rows, and I think we can definitely do this. I think we just have to make the proper work and optimize what we have, and we'll be there. We're going to have an early go tomorrow, which is good. The temperature is going to be down a little bit, and the line is real long. The only thing we have to worry about tomorrow is once we make our first attempt, it's just one. We're not going to have may chances up there. There's too many cars, so we've got to make sure that the first run is good."
ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 12 Playa Del Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone, 29th-fastest-driver): "I didn't have a ride coming into the month and we don't know yet, but fortunately I did get to drive at least, and it feels great to be back on the track. I haven't been racing all year, actually since last year, so I'm having a lot of fun, and you actually see me smiling now. So, it's good. Hopefully I'll get to race. I think we were certainly being conservative. The whole key was to make sure that the car could get up to speed. It's capable. There's more to it. I was being conservative, so we'll see how it goes. The team is going to have a meeting, and I'm ready to go racing anytime."
The 2006 IRL IndyCar Series continues with the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 at 1 p.m. (EDT) on May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. ABC will broadcast the race live beginning at noon (EDT). A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. Live coverage on the IMS Radio Network begins at noon (EDT). The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Freedom 100 at 12:30 p.m. on May 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2's Carb Day coverage on May 26. Live coverage on the IMS Radio Network begins at 12:15 p.m. (EDT).