TEN MORE DRIVERS QUALIFY FOR 91st INDIANAPOLIS 500 INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, May 19, 2007 -- An Andretti, an Unser and the IndyCar Series' first Latina were among 10 drivers who qualified for the 91st Running of the Indianapolis 500. Sunday is the...
TEN MORE DRIVERS QUALIFY FOR 91st INDIANAPOLIS 500
INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, May 19, 2007 -- An Andretti, an Unser and the IndyCar Series' first Latina were among 10 drivers who qualified for the 91st Running of the Indianapolis 500. Sunday is the final day of qualifications with at least three drivers expected to compete for the final starting position in the 33-car field.
Roger Yasukawa was the quickest qualifier of the day with a four-lap average of 222.654 mph on the famed 2.5-mile oval. He will start 22nd in the 500-Mile race on May 27.
John Andretti, who has not started an Indianapolis 500 since 1994, will start 24th while Al Unser Jr., who will start his 19th 500, qualified 25th.
Milka Duno became the first rookie to join the field with a qualifying average of 219.228. The Venezuelan, who will start 29th, joins Danica Patrick and Sarah Fisher in the first field to feature three female drivers.
Other drivers to qualify included Alex Barron, Jon Herb, Jaques Lazier, Marty Roth, Roberto Moreno and Jimmy Kite.
Rookie Phil Giebler was three laps into his qualifying run when his No. 31 Playa Del Racing car crashed into the SAFER Barrier exiting Turn 2. The car then spun and made contact with the inside retaining wall. Giebler was checked and released from the Clarian Emergency Medical Center. The team hopes to repair the car overnight and make another qualifying attempt Sunday.
PJ Jones and Richie Hearn also expect to vie for the final starting position.
The Chastain Motorsports crew has placed decals with the name "Bobby More" and the Brazilian flag under the decals of "Roberto Moreno" and the Brazilian flag on the chassis of the No. 77 Chastain Motorsports entry that Moreno will drive.
A.J. Foyt Racing Team Director Larry Foyt underwent a driver's physical this week at Clarian Emergency Medical Center at IMS. Foyt drove in the last three Indianapolis 500's before stepping out of the cockpit this year to manage his father's team.
But does the physical indicate that Foyt is considering a return to the cockpit this weekend in a third A.J. Foyt entry, as a teammate to Darren Manning and Al Unser Jr.?
LARRY FOYT (Team director, A.J. Foyt Racing): "Well, you never know what's going to happen here. We've got the cars to where if my dad wanted to throw one in, I think that we could do it. I just wanted to be ready in case that happens, but I don't know. I probably won't because I don't want to do anything to take away from our 14 and 50 operations, but at the same time, if it looks like we can easily get in the field, it might be fun to do." (About factors into any decision to run a third car with Larry Foyt): "Well, we're probably just going to see what happens today and how fast people are going. I feel really confident that I could jump in and get up to 220 pretty quickly, but at the same time, our car is not quite ready so it would take a lot of work. It probably won't happen, but I just want to be ready just in case."
Racing Professionals and Hemelgarn Racing have combined efforts to field a car for Richie Hearn. The six-time Indianapolis 500 starter will drive the #91 Hemelgarn/Racing Professionals Dallara/Honda/Firestone.
RICHIE HEARN (No. 91 Hemelgarn/Racing Professionals Dallara/Honda/ Firestone): "We're going to get out. Probably not until after the first round of qualifying. We've got to go through tech and stuff, but we'll be out there today. It depends on how good it goes and how everyone else qualifies it may be better just to get it in (today) and get it done with, then we can do a little bit of full-tank stuff tomorrow so we don't have to worry about it. It's been two years, but it's not any different than normal. I just have to focus on just safely getting up to speed quickly because we don't have a lot of time. I've been in this situation before, so I kind of know what to expect. The biggest factor is the weather and it's a good day today, so you don't have to worry about it.
Danielle Sylvester of Indianapolis was selected as the 2007 500 Festival Queen this morning at the annual Breakfast at the Brickyard presented by ProLiance Energy at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Sylvester, 21, is a senior at Ball State University majoring in marketing with a minor in sales. She is a 2004 graduate of Southport High School and is the daughter of Paul and Teresa Sylvester. She will receive a $2,500 educational scholarship from the 500 Festival and WTHR Channel 13. She also will wear a jeweled crown provided by G. Thrapp Jewelers at 500 Festival events and the Indianapolis 500.
Sylvester is one of 33 young ladies selected for the 2007 500 Festival Princess Program, serving as ambassadors for the 500 Festival and Indianapolis 500.
Princess Danielle Frazier, from New Palestine, Ind., and Princess Brittany Landwerlen, from Greenwood, Ind., were chosen as 2007 Princess Court members.
Parnelli Jones says he could have kept driving and driving.
The 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner got behind the wheel of the No. 40 fluorescent orange Honda-powered Dallara for a few ceremonial laps on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His son, PJ, will attempt to qualify the car for the 91st Indianapolis 500. The Team Leader Motorsports car entered by Kent Baker pays homage to "Silent Sam," the 1967 STP Pratt & Whitney Turbine car entered by Andy Granatelli that Parnelli drove to sixth place at Indianapolis.
"It was a lot of fun doing it," he said. "I just would hate to think about going into that corner at over 200 miles an hour. I obviously would've liked to run a little bit more. The more you run, the more relaxed you get, the more you get the feel for the track and the car, whatever you're driving."
A.J. Foyt won the 1967 race, with Al Unser the runner-up. A $6 bearing ended the day for the No. 40 car, which was leading until Lap 196 of 200. Jones, who broke the 150 mph barrier in qualifications in 1962 (when he won the pole and finished seventh), competed in the 500-Mile Race seven times. The '67 race in the "Whooshmobile" was his last.
"It's like a reunion to come back here every May," he said. "I've never retired. I always say, 'I'm not done yet.' ''
Parnelli drives in the occasional celebrity and vintage car race.
"I think it's probably the first modern race car he's driven since the 1970s," PJ said. "He drives antique stuff and vintage stuff, and last year he went to Goodwood (England) to drive the 'Johnny Lightning Special' Lotus. It's got to be a thrill for him. It's neat to see him in there. He's not going that fast, but it gives him an idea of what it's like to drive one of these cars."
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Gordon Johncock joined members of his 1982 Indianapolis 500-winning crew -- some still active in the IndyCar Series -- for a day of reminiscing today at the Speedway. The No. 20 STP Oil Treatment Wildcat/Cosworth that Johncock drove to a 0.16-of-a-second victory over pole sitter Rick Mears was the centerpiece of the reunion, which took place at Rahal Letterman Racing's hospitality tent.
GORDON JOHNCOCK: "The race wouldn't have been that close if George Huening (chief mechanic) wanted to go a couple of turns on the wing and I only wanted to go one (on final pit stop). I should have listened to him. But if I would have listened to him, it wouldn't have been such an exciting finish. It was, what I think anyway, the most exciting finish to that time. I've always said if it would have been three or four years later, with Rick's (Mears) experience, I probably wouldn't have won the race. I was the one who had been here a long time. But Rick became the master of the Speedway."
LARRY FAUST (Sign board for Mario Andretti; current crew member Rahal Letterman Racing): (About the memories of the 1982 Indianapolis 500): "It's like it just happened this morning. You sit here and watch (the replay of the 1982 race). You see the stuff, and you start remembering the stuff more. Like the start seeing Mario (Andretti) ahead (of his row), Gordy (Gordon Johncock) was the on the radio saying he shouldn't be there, and he should have been back farther in line. It brings back a lot of memories." (About how the race has evolved): "The innovation (is the biggest change). The '82 car hardly had any wires on it. You got more wires (on the new Indy cars) than the space shuttle has. We built these cars at our shop. That's another satisfying deal."
TIM HOMBURG: (Right rear tire changer, Gordon Johncock in 1982): (About the memories from 1982): "I was on Gordy's car, so he was close (to the accident at the start). He didn't receive any damage, so we were all very disappointed for Mario (Andretti). We knew what we had to go out and do, and we stayed focus on our goal of winning. The one thing I'll never forget -- because the last couple laps of that race when Gordy and Rick (Mears) were right together -- the crowd was cheering so loud you couldn't hear the engines of the race cars. The race cars were like watching a silent movie. I'll never forget that." (About whether it was the highlight of his career): "That was definitely the highlight. We won some other races and had some good seasons, but the 1982 Indy 500 was definitely the highlight." (About how close he has stayed with the crew): "We went through the crew member list yesterday, and a lot of the guys are still involved with racing. I've stayed in touch with a couple of them, but it's going to be nice to catch up with the entire crew."
Darren Manning drove a blistering race in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg ---literally. The A.J. Foyt Racing driver's hands were badly blistered after a drive that kept him in the top three most of the day until a late-race spin removed him from contention. For advice on how to treat his blisters before his round of golf played two days later at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, Manning could have consulted with the spouse of a fellow driver.
In the May 2007 issue of Golf Magazine, Paul Hospenthal of the Desert Institute of Physical Therapy in Phoenix offered advice on how to keep irritating blisters from affecting a round of golf. Hospenthal is also the husband of Andretti Green Racing driver Danica Patrick. Hospenthal's advice: don't pop blisters unless they're very painful!
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race competitor Don Smidt is a guest of Playa Del Racing today and Sunday. The Iditarod, which takes place annually in Alaska, is the world's foremost sled dog race. Smidt, 39, is a native of Iowa who has worked with animals his entire life.
DON SMIDT: "The Iditarod is a 1,200-mile race. In order to qualify for the Iditarod, you need a 500-mile qualifier, which is a 200- and 300-mile qualifier. Once you complete that, you are good to go for it as well as the Yukon Quest."
(Why did you want to come to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?): "I was invited (by Playa Del Racing) up here, and it has been amazing. I'll be here tomorrow, but I won't be here for the actual race because I have too much going on that weekend. This place is so big. I never expected it to be this much. I wasn't familiar with the place growing up because I have been involved with animals my entire life. I didn't know what to expect before coming here, but it's so different and so big. I hope to come to a race in the future, but right now I'm just trying to grasp everything that is involved."
(About the comparison between sled dog racing and IndyCar Series racing): "It is just about going to the extreme to see how far you can push the limit of whatever you're racing. I'm working with an animal trying to push it to its extreme, and here you're working with a machine trying to see how fast you can go
The #19 Racing Professionals car, driven by Jon Herb, is carrying a decal that says "Get Well Willie," for mechanic Willie Ator, who was injured in a traffic accident on May 13.
Medical update from Dr. Mike Olinger, Indy Racing League medical director: Phil Giebler has been checked and released from the Clarian Emergency Medical Center. He is cleared to drive.
PHIL GIEBLER (No. 31 Ethos Fuel Reformulator Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "Well it's just been a really difficult week to start with. I've just decided to give the team another obstacle here with doing that. It's one of those things that caught me completely off guard in qualifying. We've really been struggling with getting time on the track; we weren't even planning on going out to qualify, we were running out of time so we decided to go out. The car was really running good, and obviously we had the speed to get in no problem. It wasn't like I was pushing too hard or anything, and all the sudden, the car just had a big understeer into the exit of (Turn) 2, I tried to do whatever I could do to save it, as much lock as I could and backed out of it and scraped the wall. This was my first impact on an oval, and hopefully, my last. Hopefully, the Playa Del Racing team will come back strong, and we'll get in the show tomorrow."
Arie Luyendyk Jr., who made his first Indianapolis 500 start in 2006, was an interested observer today at the track.
ARIE LUYENDYK JR.: (Do you have any opportunities to run in this year's race?): "I'm not looking to get into a car this year. My focus is on 2008. I don't want to get into a car last minute like I did in 2005."
Follow up on Roberto Moreno: Moreno's car says "Bobby More" directly under his name on the sides of the car. When asked, he said it was his "American name." He came up with it in case he decides to obtain American citizenship.
A total of 47 cars are at the Speedway. Forty-three have passed technical inspection. Thirty-four drivers have been on the track to date, turning 1,925 practice laps today and 11,788 laps this month. Ed Carpenter turned 96 laps today, most of any driver. Vitor Meira has turned 516 laps this month, most of any driver. A total of 100 IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series drivers have passed physical examinations at the Clarian Medical Center. There were five cautions today for a total of 44 minutes.
SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
8 a.m. Public Gates Open
10:14 a.m. Honorary Starter: Staff Sgt.Patrick Shannon 76th Infantry Brigade, Indiana National Guard
10:15-11:15 a.m. IndyCar Series Practice
Noon-6 p.m. IndyCar Series Qualifications
6 p.m. Track Closes
Note: Subject to change due to weather
The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500 at 1 p.m. (ET) on May 27. The race will be telecast live by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The sixth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Freedom 100 on May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2's coverage of Carb Day at 4 p.m. on May 25.