PATRICK FASTEST AS ROP CONCLUDES AT INDIANAPOLIS INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, May 9, 2005 -- Danica Patrick posted the fastest lap for the second consecutive day as Rookie Orientation Program concluded at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Patrick, ...
PATRICK FASTEST AS ROP CONCLUDES AT INDIANAPOLIS
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, May 9, 2005 -- Danica Patrick posted the fastest lap for the second consecutive day as Rookie Orientation Program concluded at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Patrick, driving the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone, lapped the 2.5-mile oval in 40.4056 seconds, 222.741 mph.
Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais was the only driver to complete ROP, joining Patrick, Ryan Briscoe, Jeff Bucknum, Patrick Carpentier, Paul Dana and Tomas Enge as drivers eligible to practice.
Scott Mayer, driving the No. 41 Dallara/Toyota/Firestone for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt, has passed three phases of the test. Mayer can complete the final phase of ROP on May 10 when practice opens to veterans of the Indianapolis 500.
A total of 39 cars are now at the Speedway, 24 have passed technical inspection. Ten drivers have been on the track to date. There were three yellows for 22 minutes.
POST ROP QUOTES:
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 37 Newman Haas Team Centrix Panoz/Honda/Firestone): (About Indianapolis Motor Speedway): "It's a legendary place. There are a lot of classics. This racetrack you have to treat with a lot of respect. I had that kind of feeling when I went out the first time. It's always special. I've also been trying to do this race for two years, so it's good to be here, and it's good to get off on the right foot. Centrix made it happen. It's been something difficult to come, but they pulled it out, and it's looking pretty good." (About ROP): "I didn't really know what to expect, because everybody was saying I have experience, but my experience is nothing. I've got absolutely no experience on superspeedways, and that was the real point for me about this ROP. Just to try and get a real feel for it. I've never driven an IRL car before. I couldn't do it before this season. The only time I drove an open-wheel car with low downforce was testing in 2003 at Fontana. That's the only time I was able to get a real feel for it. So I really feel like I'm a beginner. I'm just starting to learn everything. It's pretty much the case on ovals. On short ovals, at least I did two races, so I can talk about it a bit more. But on these superspeedways, I'm really starting from scratch. It's a big challenge ahead of me. Everybody is saying I've got a real good chance and I rely on a lot of experience and all that, but I really don't. I have to learn everything. That's the biggest challenge for me." (About goals for ROP): "We spoke with Brian Barnhart, and the target was really clear. I personally consider us to have no experience in this. Even so, they wanted to waive ROP for me. I really felt that I needed it. We really took our time, went through all the phases one by one. It was actually very good, because the car wasn't completed. The guys worked very hard, but at the end of the day, there was too much to be done to be ready on time. It's very good that it happened like that. It took the pressure off of the team, and mysel f, too. So, there was absolutely no rush for anybody, and the only target was to get confident. We didn't trim the car at all. We just tested with the kind of downforce we would expect to race with. It felt pretty good. We worked on the balance and started with a lot of understeer to make sure I wasn't going to lose it or anything. We worked our way through setups and adjustments. It went very smoothly. I feel pretty good in the car right now and am ready to start testing properly."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone): I've had fun these last couple of days, just being able to learn it by myself before I get out there with everybody else and felt uncomfortable blowing around in their wind. I was curious what the orientation was going to be like, but it's been good. That's what you do at Indy, you just keep trimming it out. You go faster and you just make sure you're still comfortable, and that's kind of what the program is. And of course there's going to be setup issues that are going to come up along the way, and we're going to do a little bit here and a little bit there until the balance is right, but for the most part, Buddy (Rice) and Vitor (Meira) worked really hard last year and the engineers worked really hard and the car is really good. Basically, I'm driving what they drove last year, and it's actually going pretty well, so I'm pleased."
TOMAS ENGE (No. 2 ROCKSTAR Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Driving the track for me today felt much better. This track is so special and so unique that it can be very difficult for the drivers. So we're just trying to take it slow in our RockStar Chevy and work our way up to faster speeds. My ribs still feel the same, but I'm getting comfortable and now we can start to work on the car. The speeds are getting better, and now I want to get into the groove of this track."
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.