ROOKIE PATRICK PACES PACK AT INDIANAPOLIS PRACTICE INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 12, 2005 -- Rookie Danica Patrick became the first woman to lead a full Indianapolis 500 practice session in nearly 30 years as she posted the fastest lap of the...
ROOKIE PATRICK PACES PACK AT INDIANAPOLIS PRACTICE
INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 12, 2005 -- Rookie Danica Patrick became the first woman to lead a full Indianapolis 500 practice session in nearly 30 years as she posted the fastest lap of the month during preparations for the 89th Indianapolis 500.
Patrick, driving the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone, lapped the 2.5-mile oval in 39.5374 seconds, 227.633 mph, and joined Janet Guthrie as the only women to lead a full practice day. Guthrie led practice on May 7, 1977.
2004 IRL IndyCar® Series champion Tony Kanaan was second fastest in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone with a lap of 39.5561 seconds, 227.525 mph.
2004 J.P. Chase Bank Rookie of the Year Kosuke Matsuura was third with a lap of 39.5822 seconds, 227.375 mph.
DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "It was a really good day. We went in the right direction the whole time, which doesn't always happen. Sometimes you take steps back, but we made the car better and better. I'm happy with it. I told them to take notes on however the car came back to the garage." (About competing at Indy one year after an announcement at IMS): "This has kind of been our timetable and what we've been wanting to do since we met. Indy has always been the goal, and the way the contract was structured. I'm glad it's working out for everybody." (About not running late in the day): "We stopped at about 4 p.m., or 4:30 p.m. maybe. I was happy with the car. We also ran the first two days of Rookie Orientation doing quite a few laps, and we used up our tires a little bit, and we don't want to short ourselves in the end, so we just stopped. The guys had enough work to do in the garage with just taking notes and making sure that everything is perfect on the car. We decided that we'll just make sure everything is done thoroughly and stop right there."
BOBBY RAHAL (Co-owner, Rahal Letterman Racing): "Such a shame for yesterday with Buddy (Rice). It's certainly something we didn't want, but Vitor (Meira) and Danica have carried the team as a result. I'm as proud of that as I am of anything. The team is working very well together, very similar to last year. The speeds and the times and the consistencies of them are reflections of that, so I'm pretty happy right now, with the exception of what happened to Buddy." (About Danica being quick so soon): "I think the thing I'm most pleased with is that we've been methodically, and she's been methodically going through it, through the setup changes, and been very focused. I left her a phone message this morning. I had to go to Washington on some business, and I said, 'Just stay focused, stay quiet, and just keep thinking about what you're doing,' and she's doing that, obviously very well. Did I know she'd be fastest? No, but the last couple of days she's been right up where the fast guys are. I wasn't surprised when Scott (Roembke) told me as I was getting off the plane that she was quickest. I think everybody is trying to foresee what might happen this weekend, I think we're just going to take it one step at a time just like we've been doing all week. We'll do that again tomorrow. What happens on Saturday or Sunday, we'll just see what happens."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "My teammates and I have been working really well together. We've been making our qualifying simulations, and I'm confident about what we can do. I think Team 7-Eleven is making good progress, and now it's just a matter of waiting for the right conditions and dialing the car in for our qualifying run on Saturday."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's obviously great to qualify on the pole, and that's what we're working toward, there's no doubt about it. You've got to have one eye on the race, but right now everything seems to be going pretty good. There are the occasional 'Indianapolis 500 blues' where you go out in the afternoon and nothing goes like it was going in the morning, so you have to work back and find out why, but that's the joy of the Indianapolis 500."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Menards Johns Manville): "We ran a lot of laps today. We accomplished many things with the car. It was cooler today, and the weather changes a lot of things with this track. You have to be careful with the hot weather. We can be surprised with the wind and the hot weather. A lot of things are depending on the wind. We have to be ready for both hot and cold weather. I think I ran almost everything by myself. I had a couple of tows, but I tried to stay by myself as much as possible. It looks like the weather will be cool on Saturday, so today was good to learn how the track will be for qualifying. Of course, the conditions always seem to change minute-by-minute here."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The ArcaEx team had a very good day today, but it's kind of a double-edged sword. You want to go out and run on your own because you want to know how you're going to do in qualifying. At the same time, you want to run up the time charts so you're looking for a tow. We spent most of the day on our own and worked on qualifying most the time, and we're pretty happy. Hopefully the weather will hold up. We have a good balance with the ArcaEx car, and we're just going to tweak it a little bit more to prepare it for Saturday."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm happy with how things went today. We were able to work on our qualifying setup the entire session, and the Marlboro Team Penske car is pretty comfortable. I'm looking forward to qualifying, and hopefully, all of our hard work this week will pay off."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9T Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone): "I think everyone will put in a better engine (Friday) and just work on qualifying more tomorrow. I'll do some more new tire runs, trim it out a bit more and get a better balance. It's been hard today with the wind, especially in (Turn) 2, and I think it caught a few people out. We kept it pretty casual toward the end of the day, you know, because we're down to one car now." (About adjusting to the weather): "It takes grip away if it gets hotter, but Saturday it's going to be fairly cold, very similar to what we've got here. I think the car was decent. We probably need to work a little bit more on the engine, fine tune it, but we can work on that on the day off."
RICHIE HEARN (No. 70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Racing Special Panoz/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "(Qualifying setup is) what today was about for us. We made changes to the Meijer car from the way we've run it the last two days to help us go fast just for the four laps of qualifying instead of 500 miles. We made progress as the day went along, and I think we're close to where we want to be."
BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We didn't get the speed that the other three did, but tomorrow we are going to our full qualifying setup, so I would expect that we will be right there with them. Today we were trying some different setup concepts that we wanted to evaluate, and we know which one we want to go with now, so tomorrow we'll start refining it and going for speed."
ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We made a big jump today in the right direction, which is a good way to go into the last day of practice before qualifying. By Friday you want to be ready, and then on Saturday, you just want to do a warmup run to get ready for qualifying. We had a big list of things to do today. We ran through them all and made some gains with the car, but we didn't find the magic trick we were looking for. The Red Bull Toyota is real solid, it's good as far as grip. We are just looking for overall speed. We will do some things tonight to fine tune the car for tomorrow."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "We've tried a lot of things on the car, but we seem to be running the same speeds every day. We're not last, but we're not where we want to be. We're now going to trim the car out a little bit for qualifying and try to take care of some of the push we have, so we'll see what we can come up with tomorrow."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It was a disappointing day. We tried quite a few things with the Marlboro Team Penske car, but unfortunately, we didn't find the gains we were hoping for this afternoon. We're looking forward to a better day tomorrow."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "I think we are where we want to be heading into Pole Day. It was another great day for the Delphi Fernandez team. We went through more items on our list and learned some things that will help us for qualifying and also a couple of things that may help us for the race. We had some speed. It is hard to tell what everyone else is doing because so many guys are drafting, and it is hard to tell what they can really do on their own. Of speeds on our own, I think we are up there. We are in a good position right now."
KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "The time was good today, but I had quite a good tow. The car feels good, but on my own the car was a little bit edgy. The wind direction was different today, and the wind was really strong and the car was shaking quite a lot. When I drove on my own, it was a little bit difficult to drive, but our times were good. We have a lot of motivation right now."
JAQUES LAZIER (No. 21 Playa DEL Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Everything's cool. It's going smoothly, almost too smooth. The car is comfortable and consistent. We're trying to free it up some more, though, because it's (track) got too much grip because of the new surface. We're struggling to free it up to get a little bit more speed, but we think we figured out something today that should hopefully help us to be quicker tomorrow." (About returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Playa DEL Racing): "It's great to be back at Indy again. It's every driver's dream. It's really nice to know I have a solid ride at the beginning of the month. I'm really honored to be running for the Playa Del Racing team. They helped me start my career in 1999, and I'm really glad we can work together again."
PAUL DANA (No. 91 Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Today was a little bit frustrating. We didn't quite accomplish what we wanted to. Early in the day, we missed on the gearing so we came back to the garage and did a gear change. Then later, as we got running, we were taking rear wing out of the car but we weren't seeing any gain in speed. We sort of got stuck there. We're going to change motors tonight, so we'll see tomorrow if that helps any. (About spin): "On the spin, I had just thrown a downshift as we were exiting the corner, and it looks like the shift hung up and locked the rears for an instant. It's a miracle we didn't break the car in half. I got lucky on that one."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 36 Newman Haas Team Centrix Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "I had to go full throttle so he (Darren Manning) didn't hit me when he slid down the track. Sebastien and I got lucky to avoid being collected in his accident. The Centrix car is a little bit better but we didn't make as much progress today. It's a shame that we didn't get to work in more traffic. We went out with full fuel and new tires to do long runs to work on our race setup. Sebastien ran behind me to make his car better in traffic but I didn't run behind him so we still need to do more work. Tomorrow we need to trim the car and work on our qualifying setup to get ready for Saturday. I hope the weather cooperates like it has so far."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 37 Newman Haas Team Centrix Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "We're not sure why we are quicker today, but we'll take it. I went through a fog of debris from Darren's accident. Luckily it missed my head. It could have been the end of the Team Centrix patrol, but we were lucky. I was following Bruno closely, and I saw that he went low to avoid Darren (Manning) so I went high around him and hoped for the best. Obviously, the Centrix car is a lot better, I am able to follow more closely in traffic. We are really far behind the others but we found both speed and consistency in traffic and by ourselves so we accomplish quite a lot today. I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow so we can work on our qualifying setup."
JEFF BUCKNUM (No. 44 Investment Properties of America Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Today was a huge learning excperience because on Sunday, I just did laps for ROP. Our goal was for me to learn my way around the track and just methodically complete our laps. Today was the first chance to try new setups and really learn what the car can do. We finished on a good note. Roger (Yasukawa) should be able to move forward more from what we learned today. It was really my first time to experience the turbulence behind these cars. It's unlike anything else I've seen in my racing career. This place has so many variables, and the key is not to lose your momentum. Just the slightest thing will slow you down and you'll lose 10 spots."
*** 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.