Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines: 1. Indy Racing League Q & A - Danica Patrick 2. Yacaman tops Firestone Indy Lights Open Test at IMS 3. Familiar faces return for Firestone Freedom 100 *** 1. Indy Racing...
Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Indy Racing League Q & A - Danica Patrick
2. Yacaman tops Firestone Indy Lights Open Test at IMS
3. Familiar faces return for Firestone Freedom 100
1. Indy Racing League Q & A - Danica Patrick: IZOD IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick participated in a Q&A session. Below are select quotes from the interview.
* 28-year-old native of Roscoe, Ill competing in her sixth season in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2010.
* Drives No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com car for Andretti Autosport.
* Currently 16th in IZOD IndyCar Series point standings.
* Has qualified in the top-10 in every Indianapolis 500 start and finished in the top-10 in four of her five starts.
* First female driver to lead the Indianapolis 500 when she led 19 laps as a rookie in 2005.
Q. Tomorrow starts the month of May, the shortened month of May. Can you talk a little bit about the compressed schedule. Do you feel more pressure to get up to speed?
DANICA PATRICK: Well, yeah, it's kind of hard to almost call it a month of May because it's not. It's like half of a month.
But, anyway, I always enjoyed everything that was the whole month before. So, you know, I didn't have really much criticism for it. I think that one of the issues that tends to come up is rain issues. You end up feeling like you're pretty ready by the end of the month, but as a driver, practice is practice, and you can always get better.
I think it will be an interesting balance this year between qualifying runs and race runs, trying to kind of get in sync as a group and go out there and run in packs. So, you know, being on a big team will probably help because all five of us can coordinate and have a good pack to run in.
Hopefully the weather will hold up. It's supposed to be all right this weekend. Hopefully that continues through the rest of the month.
Q. You mentioned qualifying. Can you talk a little bit about the qualifying format. Could be a little extra stressful trying to get in the top nine and then making the run for the pole.
DANICA PATRICK: I think it will end up being like two qualifyings because the track usually just gets quicker at the end of the day. So there's that period in between the beginning and the end of qualifying that it does go slower.
I guess it will be interesting. You know, I mean, you can go out in the morning and run a decent time and end up being, I'm tense now. You go back out there and, Do I risk it or not, but then you're going to have to end up having to if you think you can go faster.
We'll see how it works. I didn't have any criticism for the way it was done before. The only thing that for me kind of was a little unfair because if the end of the day came at qualifying and you had cars that really didn't even have a shot, probably weren't even going to qualify anyway, and they were getting in line, then it was a little bit unfair to be taking up that time.
But also that's part of qualifying, is being smart enough to get in line at the right time. So it will be interesting. I hope I'm on the upside of this and we can get into that top nine real easy and go for another run. Maybe there won't be any activity because everybody will be like, Top nine is pretty good, first three rows, let's go home.
It's going to be interesting.
Q. Yeah, five years later. Usually in time there's perspective when you look back on things.
DANICA PATRICK: Yeah. I guess I would have to view my career really as pretty blessed really. I've been really fortunate along the way. You know, some really great things have happened. So, you know, I guess that's really how I feel.
I guess I've learned over the years how much hard work pays off, just how really blessed and lucky I am to have this career and, you know, to get the breaks that I do, things like that.
Q. So specifically how much did your life accelerate from that day forward?
DANICA PATRICK: Well, I remember coming into the first year and thinking, Well, you know, there's no guarantee that I would stay if I don't do well my first year. Who knows what's going to happen. You know, kind of after the first part of the season, which included through Indy and stuff, I went, I think maybe I'll get another job next year.
I think it was a really pivotal thing for that, as well as in the media, in the fans' eyes, as well. It was a game--changer.
Q. Do you feel blessed, I don't know that you call it your driving style, that your approach seems to fit Indianapolis, the smoothness? Do you feel blessed that fits basically the world's greatest race? Do you understand what I'm saying?
DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, I do. I get the question definitely every now and again about what it is about Indianapolis that makes you good there. You always do really well, you've always been up in the top 10, qualifying in the race every year.
I don't know exactly. But, you know, you've probably hit some of it. I am smooth and patient. I try and drive a smart race. It's important to get to the end. It's important to have a car that you're confident in. So I'm sure, you know, those things must attribute to it since I tend to come here and be in contention.
So, yeah, I guess it is a pretty darn lucky situation to have a style that accommodates such a grand place as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As I got here the first day, I was looking, I had to do something down on pit lane, I'm riding a golf cart down to do this thing, I'm looking at the windows. It says, The greatest racecourse in the world. I'm like, Yes, it is.
2. Yacaman tops Firestone Indy Lights Open Test at IMS: Gustavo Yacaman established himself as a contender for the Firestone Freedom 100 by leading a one-day Open Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 14.
Yacaman turned a lap of 47.2493 seconds, 190.511 mph, in his No. 10 Cape Motorsport with Wayne Taylor Racing car around the famed 2.5-mile oval.
"I'm not surprised," Yacaman said. "(Engineers Nicholas and Dominic) Cape had a great car two years ago with J.R. (Hildebrand) and the car was really good. The credit goes to them. All I had to do was sit there with the pedal to the metal. "
While Yacaman gave the credit to pre Cape Motorsport with Wayne Taylor Racing team, he also had an ace up his sleeve. Yacaman received advice from Juan Pablo Montoya, when he visited the 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner at a NASCAR tire test at the Speedway in April.
"I think spending a few days with Juan really helped me a lot," Yacaman said. "I think he helped me get really comfortable with the car and he gave me some really good tips that showed up today. Hopefully we can keep this up for the race."
Pippa Mann was second fastest with a lap of 47.3125, 190.225 mph followed by Jeff Simmons (190.072), Charlie Kimball (189.864) and defending race winner Wade Cunningham (189.672).
3. Familiar faces return for Firestone Freedom 100: Two drivers who made their name in the Firestone Freedom 100 will return for the race in 2010.
Jeff Simmons, who parlayed success in the Firestone Indy Lights into IZOD IndyCar Series rides with Mo Nunn Racing and Rahal Letterman Racing, signed to drive with Team E for the May 28 race, while 2005 Firestone Indy Lights champion Wade Cunningham returns to defend his 2009 race win with Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
"I wanted to build up gradually, and I think it was a testament to everybody at Team E that we were so quick right off the bat," said Simmons. "We had a good starting setup and we kept the car in a good window. I got the chance to slowly work my way into traffic and feeling that out, because I haven't had that for almost two years. The last time I raced was Kentucky of '08, so be able to have a car that I could be confident in was great. We were quick all day - basically in the top three all day - and if we wanted to play the super-drafting game at the end we probably could have gone a little quicker. But when we come back the track is going to be different from having the IndyCars run on it. I'm just excited to be back and have something to do at the racetrack rather than walk around."
Cunningham, the only two-time winner of the Firestone Freedom 100, said wining again at Indianapolis would be an accomplishment he would consider to be "very cool."
"The car rolled out pretty strong this morning, but we have a fair amount of work to do on the car before race day," Cunninham said. "We're pretty sure come race time we'll be battling the top teams for the pole. It's really close, but it's hard to tell what everyone has with fuel and downforce levels. But this is practice and in two weeks we go racing."
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues May 30 with the 2010 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at noon (ET) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway The race will air live on VERSUS.