KANAAN FASTEST AS TEAMS RECORD MORE THAN 7,000 MILES OF PRACTICE INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, May 20, 2005 -- Thirty-two driver-car combinations totaled a month-high 2,828 laps (7,070 miles -- one of the busiest practice days in the past five years) ...
KANAAN FASTEST AS TEAMS RECORD MORE THAN 7,000 MILES OF PRACTICE
INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, May 20, 2005 -- Thirty-two driver-car combinations totaled a month-high 2,828 laps (7,070 miles -- one of the busiest practice days in the past five years) without incident as qualified drivers tinkered with their race set-ups and tested how cars responded to various fuel loads. Teams with unqualified cars were seeking that extra measure of speed.
MBNA Pole Award winner Tony Kanaan, driving the No. 11 team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, led the speed parade at 226.490 mph (39.7368 seconds) on the 2.5-mile oval. He recorded the fast lap late in the six-hour session under a cloudy sky and temperature in the mid-60s. Kanaan added to his prize fund for the month by accepting the $5,000 Argent Mortgage Fastest Lap award.
IndyCar Series points leader Dan Wheldon was atop the speed chart (226.399 mph; 39.7528 seconds) until Kanaan's late quick lap. Dario Franchitti, driving the No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone, made it an Andretti Green Racing top-three sweep with a quick lap of 226.065 mph.
Arie Luyendyk Jr. will be looking for consistency -- quickly -- May 21 as he attempts to complete the Rookie Orientation Program that is mandated by the sanctioning Indy Racing League before a driver can practice for the 500-Mile Race and then make his four-lap qualifying run. He'll be on the recently repaved track at 10:15 a.m. (EDT).
There's a one-hour practice window scheduled May 21 preceding qualifying (1-7 p.m. EDT; live Timing and Scoring on indycar.com) to fill the final 11 spots in the 33-car field. ESPN and ESPN2 will broadcast the action live (check local listings) as will the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network (1-2 and 6-7 p.m. EDT).
POST PRACTICE QUOTES:
JAQUES LAZIER (No. 21 Playa Del Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone): (About running so few laps today): "Today was about re-establishing a baseline for a qualifying setup, and we felt the weather conditions were not optimal for that. So we decided not to chase a setup and parked the car until tomorrow morning."
RICHIE HEARN (No. 70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Racing Special Panoz/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We made some good progress today. I got to run in traffic quite a bit, and that helped me see where our Meijer car is in relation to some of the other fast cars. Tim (Neff, engineer) came up with some good changes that made the car better during the long runs. The fastest car usually doesn't win the Indy 500. It's the car that is the most consistent."
ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I was glad to get out there and get those first laps out of the way. Now I can sleep on it. I was running a little bit too high. I think that just comes from the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, you know, getting used to the speed. I just tried to turn the wheel as little as possible, and sometimes there I didn't get to the bottom of the racetrack. So, I'll work on that tomorrow, and we'll work on getting the car set up for qualifying. Hopefully, we can complete our three phases and get the car sorted out for qualifying." (About last-minute pressures): "It's a little bit of a scramble. With the weather, that obviously set us back, and we had some mechanical issues this morning. We have our backs against the wall right now, but we're just going take it one step at a time. I just have to tell myself to still slowly build up to it. I am a rookie here. This will be my first IndyCar Series race. It's a lot of pressure on me, but I'm just trying to take it step by step." (About advice from Al Unser Sr. after the practice session): "He just told me to run a little lower. I was really close to the wall. I was just trying to turn the wheel as little as possible. I just need to be more aggressive with the wheel and get it down to the bottom of the racetrack. I'm thankful for the advice. I'm not a stubborn person, and I know that I need to work on that. Tonight I'll go back and review the tape, see what I did wrong and improve on it tomorrow."
A total of 58 cars are now at the Speedway, 56 have passed technical inspection. 35 drivers have been on the track to date. There were nine yellows for 1 hour and 19 minutes. There were 2,228 incident-free laps today or 7,070 miles. The total is believed to be the highest number of laps run during an Indianapolis 500 practice day.
ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I think this morning, it was like it was the start of the race. Everyone was dicing in and out. We got more done today than we thought we were going to. We're just going to keep poking away, doing what we can to make the car better in traffic. That's really all we have left to do."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The gearbox blew late in the day, so we had to stop a little bit early. It's too bad because the car was getting better and there was traffic coming, and I wanted to test it in traffic. It's OK, though. We ran enough laps. We really worked on race setup today. It was OK, but we need a little bit more (speed) for the race. We're going to make the field, so we didn't work on the qualifying setup at all. We'll just put the qualifying setup on tomorrow morning and see what we get."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Overall it was a good day for us as we were able to try a number of things on the Marlboro Team Penske car. We've still got some work to do on our setup, so we've got to stay focused and make good use of the time we have left to prepare for the race."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We worked on the race setup of the Marlboro Team Penske car again today to make sure it's handling well in traffic. We also worked on a number of scenarios that might come up during the race on pit road. The Month of May is winding down, so we need to maximize the on-track practice time we have left so that we can make sure the car is perfect on race day."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It feels like I ran 130 laps, as well. I'm pretty tired. We went out after lunch, and the car wasn't bad. We made a couple of changes, ran it in some traffic, and we were not happy. We kept working at it. The ArcaEx team stuck at it all day. They kept making changes; we kept improving it. And the last run there, Tony (Kanaan) and I ran with (Adrian) Fernandez. We made good changes, and I was very happy with the balance at the end, which is key. I think each run we're learning more. We got in some big packs today, which was at times kind of scary because it seemed particularly that the Red Bull cars were running around on the racing line about 30 or 40 mph off the pace. Not sure why. And that made things pretty interesting, people stacking up behind them. All in all, we're pretty happy and almost ready to go racing." (About running together in traffic): "We can run the four of us out there in traffic. We can create our own traffic. That certainly helps because we trust each other. We know what we're doing. What it does is almost create a magnet effect. When we go out and do our long runs, it's a dash out of pit lane and everybody sort of attaches on, and that's when it gets crazy."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "We'll go out tomorrow just to get a feel for the condition change with a little bit warmer weather, but we made some good progress today. The track was certainly different. We tuned around it pretty well and got going really good there at the end. This is what happens at Indianapolis. The conditions change so easily and everyone has to make the right adjustments to get the car back to where they want it. I am real happy with the day. I feel we were pretty strong there at the end. The car was working well in traffic and seemed to be relatively quick as well, so things are good."
KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "We are working on the race setup, but the car was really edgy and snappy today. When I was in traffic, sometimes there was a big push and when you are too close, the rear wants to step out. So it was very difficult with understeer and oversteer. The car was always changing. We are going to run tomorrow. The weather was a little bit cooler today, and my car is better when it is warmer. Race day may be a little bit cooler, so we have to find a good setup for these conditions."
BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Herta: (About his day) "It was very similar to my month. The car is really good. It doesn't seem to have the, it doesn't do the one lap. It just won't quite go the big one lap for some reason, but we're good in traffic, and I was able to run with my teammates and the Penske cars and some fast cars and felt very comfortable with that, so like Dario said, it got a little crazy there at the end, some cars going slow. Enge, sometimes I don't know what he's doing out there, he's going so slowly on the line. When he goes, he goes fast, but he does a lot of laps very slowly and creates a dangerous situation. With that, I think we're probably about ready to go racing and put the car away and get it rebuilt."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Investment Properties of America Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "I think we are good. We have been trying different things on the car for the changing conditions. The weather today is cooler. The track wasn't very good around mid-day. There were a lot of cars running, and we could simulate race conditions a little bit more. In general, I think we are in good shape, but it is still an unknown for the race in terms of what you pick for downforce and things like that. I have a feeling that we are strong. How strong, I don't know yet. We will be running a little bit tomorrow to try a few things."
The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast by ABC at 1 p.m. (EDT) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Futaba Freedom 100 on May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast by ESPN2 at 2 p.m. (EDT) on May 27.