ROOKIE GIEBLER CLEARS FINAL HURDLE; ANDRETTI LEADS FINAL DAY OF ROP AT INDIANAPOLIS INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, May 7, 2007 -- Rookie Phil Giebler completed the final two phases of the Rookie Orientation Program as IndyCar Series teams geared up for...
ROOKIE GIEBLER CLEARS FINAL HURDLE; ANDRETTI LEADS FINAL DAY OF ROP AT INDIANAPOLIS
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, May 7, 2007 -- Rookie Phil Giebler completed the final two phases of the Rookie Orientation Program as IndyCar Series teams geared up for the first official practice day for the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500.
Giebler, driving teammate Jaques Lazier's No. 21 Playa Del Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone, quickly completed the final high-speed phases shortly after the track opened for the day.
"I went through my ROP segments quite quickly and easily," said Giebler, who is attempting to become the 10th driver to graduate from the Indy Pro Series to the Indianapolis 500. "It's just part of the process that we had to do. It was a little frustrating. As a racing driver, you always want to go quicker."
Giebler, who recorded 52 laps on the day, lapped the 2.5-mile oval in 41.4572 seconds, 217.091 mph. He was satisfied with the work done by the Playa Del Racing team.
"Today, we were just trying out some different things for the engineers, went through our programs and everything went pretty smoothly," Giebler said. "Overall, it was a really good day to get up to full speed, and it's an amazing feeling being here."
Rookie Milka Duno, who completed rookie testing on May 6 and veterans Michael Andretti, Ryan Briscoe, Jon Herb, Jaques Lazier and Davey Hamilton turned laps on the second day of track activity. Andretti led all drivers with a fast lap of 40.6176, 221.579 mph -- fastest of the month, to date.
The first practice open to all veterans of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 8.
With time to kill, several drivers who will participate in practice beginning Tuesday were on pit lane watching teammates test.
2006 Chase Rookie of the Year Marco Andretti of Andretti Green Racing watched his father, Michael, practice from the pit lane with the team's Indy Pro Series driver Jaime Camara.
Vision Racing drivers Tomas Scheckter, Ed Carpenter and A.J. Foyt IV were watching from Davey Hamilton's pit stall.
Super Aguri Panther Racing driver Kosuke Matsuura was also at the Speedway, spending time with his team as they prepared his car.
Andretti Green Racing driver Tony Kanaan is providing a blog for readers at www.myracer.com during the Month of May. Beginning Tuesday and running each day through Pole Day, Kanaan will give readers a behind-the-scenes look at Team 7-Eleven's preparations for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Excerpts of the blog will be available at www.speedtv.com.
The Dallara chassis that Milka Duno is driving at the Speedway today began its career in the IndyCar Series at Mo Nunn Racing in 2003. It was last raced by Hemelgarn Racing at St. Petersburg in 2006 by P.J. Chesson. SAMAX Motorsport purchased the car from Hemelgarn Racing as it raced at St. Petersburg and converted it to 2007 oval specifications.
Danica Patrick and her husband Paul Hospenthal took advantage of the good weather to jog in the infield of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier today.
At 4 p.m., the ambient temperature was 79 degrees with a relative humidity of 37 percent and winds from the south at 9 mph, gusting to 18 mph. Skies were sunny. The track temperature was 121 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.
Following the conclusion of the session, Milka Duno and her spotter/driving coach Pancho Carter, a former pole winner for the Indianapolis 500, drove the Speedway in a street car to give her a better look at the racing line.
A total of 34 cars are at the Speedway. Nineteen have passed technical inspection. Seven drivers have been on the track to date and turned 300 laps today and 491 laps this month. Milka Duno turned 74 laps today and has turned 153 laps this month, most of any driver to date. A total of 94 IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series drivers have passed physical examinations at the Clarian Medical Center. There was one caution today for a total of five minutes.
PHIL GIEBLER (No. 21 Playa Del Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "So far, everything has been pretty smooth. I went through my ROP segments quite quickly and easily. It's just part of the process that we had to do. It was a little frustrating. As a racing driver, you always want to go quicker. Today, we were just trying out some different things for the engineers, went through our programs and everything went pretty smoothly. Overall it was a really good day to get up to full speed, and it's an amazing feeling being here." (About driving an IndyCar Series car for first time): "The IndyCar Series car is definitely the best car that I've driven in professional racing. It's definitely the quickest thing that I've driven, and it's very responsive to change. Also the feeling in the steering wheel is quite responsive. All in all, it's a more complete race car. I'd like to get it on a road course too."
DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 02 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was a second great day in a row for me today. We just worked on coming up to speed again and we did that, but we've also got a long way to go. The HP car is very comfortable and I'm very confident in my abilities and the car. Now we can start working on trimming out the car and looking for additional speed for qualifying. Overall it was a very great day."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (No. 39 Motorola/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I was really happy. We worked with the car a lot and I worked with myself a lot also, you know, to get comfortable. It was easy to get back up to speed, but the comfort just takes some time, and I'm glad we were able to have this extra day and not having to worry about other fast cars all over you. Just to be able to relax and build up to it and build your confidence up by being out there and running around, it was really good for me. It was good to work with the car a little bit and get it the way I like it, so it's been a good day so far." (About how long it takes to get comfortable): "The initial feeling comes right back to you, because you know you can get up to speed because we know the car and the setup and everything, but getting the actual comfort to where you can just lay your head back and relax, it takes a few laps. That's why it's good, you know, I was really happy that they gave me the chance to have, what they call, a refresher day." (About the differences in last year's and this year's car): "There's nothing you can really feel. The engine is maybe a tad torquier this year, but other than that, everything is pretty much the same." (About how quickly he decided to race at Indy again): "There was some time. Maybe a couple of months to just relax a little bit and decide whether I felt like I wanted to do it again. I guess after coming so close and sitting back and thinking about it, and looking at things we're going to do with the team and hopefully get the cars more competitive than they were last year, I thought, 'You know, let's give it one more shot." (About time spent trying to make team more competitive): "Our engineers were working overtime over the winter. Everybody was, actually, over in the shop. It's been a big team effort. We gave them a lot more resources and they went and, we think, put them to good use. I think it's starting to show up on the racetrack and we feel like, hopefully as the year progresses, we will even have more stuff to come. I'm very happy with the job the team did over the winter and it gets me very excited for the month because, like I said, last year, we struggled. We did not have the speed, but at the end of the race, with 10 laps to go, we were running one, two, three, four. If we can get speed, and get even with those guys, hopefully we'll have an even better time in the race."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 12 Symantec Luczo Dragon Racing Dallara/Honda/ Firestone): "It's great to be back. It's been good getting this sort of refresher course in today. Definitely a bonus for us, and making good use of it. Just sneaking up on the speed and bringing on some of the engineers and mechanics around. Just getting to know each other and letting what the changes do and everything. So we've just been making small steps and so far it's going really good." (How much assistance are you getting from 'the boys down there'): "So far quite a bit, I mean we've gotten all the equipment and quite a bit of personnel, workmen outside so it's definitely been good. A lot of new people on the car that haven't been working trackside for quite a long time so definitely still a new deal for everyone, and we are definitely getting some help which is very grateful. We need it, and it's really good so as I said a lot of new people on the team that aren't use to working trackside so as far as that goes everyone is just getting up to speed, but it's definitely great just having the help and the equipment from Penske."
MILKA DUNO (No. 23 CITGO Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was good to hit the track again today. We're getting quicker each time out and also defining our line more precisely with each lap. I was flat out many times today and got all the speed out of the car that it had today. I know the guys will be making some additional adjustments for tomorrow and we'll get some more speed. It's all a process and we're making great progress in line with our plans for each day on the track."