Patrick Racing Finds More Speed During Fifth Day Of Practice At The Indianapolis Motor Speedway INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2004 - 88TH INDIANAPOLIS 500 - DAY ...
Patrick Racing Finds More Speed During Fifth Day Of Practice At The Indianapolis Motor Speedway
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2004 - 88TH INDIANAPOLIS 500 - DAY #5 - Patrick Racing once again found more speed during today's rain shortened fifth day of practice in preparation for Saturday's qualifying for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Driver Al Unser Jr., behind the wheel of the #20 Patrick Racing Chevrolet/Dallara/Firestone entry, picked up almost one mph over his previous best time clocking a quick lap of 41.2921 seconds (217.959 mph). Since practice opened on Sunday, Patrick Racing has gained over 2.5 mph. More importantly they have trimmed the speed gap to the lead cars by over two mph from a high of almost five and a half mph. They were just 3.2 mph behind today's fastest car.
"The Patrick Racing team found some more speed again today," Unser Jr. began. "We went quicker, so that means it was another good day. The Patrick Racing Chevrolet/Dallara/Firestone is definitely a better car than it was when we started and we are definitely making progress. This was still another learning day and we did learning more," he noted. "The sad thing is that it rained this morning, which took away some of our practice time, but everybody is in the same boat. Tomorrow will be key day for us. It is supposed to rain, but if we can get some more laps in and gain another one mph like we did today, we should be in good shape for qualifying," Unser Jr. explained.
Today's practice did not begin until 3:00 p.m. due to a steady rain that lasted past 12:00 p.m. With overcast skies threatening additional rain Patrick Racing was on the track as soon as the green flag fell. The team ran for almost three consecutive hours stopping only for a five minute delay due to moisture on the track and to make changes to the car. In all Patrick Racing racked up another 68 laps of practice in the three hours, second most of any team for the day.
With today's effort Patrick Racing solidified their stature as one of the hardest working and determined teams. They have consistently been among the top four teams in laps run during the first five days of practice. While other teams may be faster it is important to remember that the Patrick Racing crew has been together for a little over two weeks and had tested for only four days before arriving at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including two during the Speedway's "Open Test". Most of the other competitors have not only been testing, but have run three races before coming to Indy, thus giving them a significant data and setup advantage.
Patrick Racing, which is in its 32nd year of competition, and first in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series, is making its 24th appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The team, which will be making its and 45th start at the IMS, has earned 20 top-10 finishes including 14 in the top- five with three victories (Gordon Johncock - 1973 and1982; Emerson Fittipaldi - 1989) and three second place showings (Mario Andretti - 1982; Kevin Cogan - 1986 and Fittipaldi - 1988) at Indy. They have qualified in the top-10 a total of 26 times with 14 top-five starts and one pole (Johncock -1982). Patrick Racing is one of the most successful teams in the history of American open wheel racing with 45 victories and two national championships. The team, which is making its first IRL start at the 2004 Indianapolis 500, last competed at IMS in 1995.
Unser Jr., who is in his 22nd season at the premier level of American open wheel competition and fifth in the IRL, will be contesting his 17th Indy 500. The 42-year-old native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who earned 34 career wins (31 in CART and three in the IRL) and captured two national championships (1990 and 1994) during his career, has posted 10 top-10 finishes placing in the top-five seven times including victories in 1992 and 1994 at the Brickyard. Unser Jr. has qualified in the top-10 a total of eight times including four top-five starts with one pole (1994).
The Indianapolis 500 will be run on Sunday, May 30. It will be televised live on ABC at 12:00 p.m. (EDT). The pre-race show ill begin at 11:00 a.m. (EDT). Pole Day (qualifying) will be on Saturday, May 15. ESPN will begin broadcasting Pole Day at 12:00 p.m. (EDT) with ABC picking up the coverage beginning at 1:00 p.m. (EDT). ESPN will come back with coverage beginning at 5:00 p.m. (EDT)