RLR/Andersen Racing, Prendeville and Scarallo Have an Exciting First Race at IMS INDIANAPOLIS, May 25 - The first time anyone races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is always memorable. That was certainly the case on Friday for RLR/Andersen...
RLR/Andersen Racing, Prendeville and Scarallo Have an Exciting First Race at IMS
INDIANAPOLIS, May 25 - The first time anyone races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is always memorable. That was certainly the case on Friday for RLR/Andersen Racing and its Indy Pro Series drivers, Andrew Prendeville of Morristown, N.J. and Joey Scarallo of Smithtown, N.Y.
The Fairfield, N.J.-based team, the official Indy Pro Series development team of Rahal Letterman Racing, was making its first start at the Brickyard, as were its two rookie drivers.
All made their presence known.
Prendeville had the whole team cheering for his performance with the Best Friends Animal Society No. 5. He started tenth, ran as high as second, set the fastest lap of the race by running even faster than the speed that won the pole, and finished fourth.
Scarallo advanced from 16th to ninth until another competitor pushed his GroupAWheels.com No. 15 into the wall with 30 laps down in the 40-lap race. He wasn't hurt and his car wasn't badly damaged, but it spoiled a solid top-10 finish. He ended up 20th.
Alex Lloyd won the race, as he did the three previous ones. This time the top five were Lloyd, Chris Festa, Jaime Camara, Prendeville and Hideki Mutoh.
Prendeville has now moved up from tenth to seventh in the point standings, while Scarallo is now 16th. Twelve races remain, including one next weekend on the Milwaukee Mile.
Prendeville definitely make it exciting. After the initial start there were two yellows right away, from laps one through three and then from laps six through nine. Prendeville kept out of the incidents and was eighth by lap two. He dropped back to 11th on lap five but he had a terrific restart on lap 10 that put him back into eighth place. He slipped to ninth on lap 11 but passed Jonathan Klein on lap 12 to regain eighth.
That's when he really got busy. He passed Al Unser III for seventh on lap 13, took care of Jon Brownson for sixth on the next lap, and cracked into the top five for the first time Friday on the very next lap, lap 15, when Sean Guthrie fell back.
Prendeville stayed in fifth place for the next two laps, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process when he circled the 2.5-mile oval in 47.6002 seconds on lap 17 for an average speed of 189.075 miles per hour. That was even faster than the 188.231 mph speed that Ken Losch ran to win the pole on Thursday.
With all that momentum built up, Prendeville got fourth by blowing by Matt Jaskol on lap 18. Two laps later he moved into podium territory when he passed Jaime Camara at the halfway point for third.
His pass of Chris Festa for second was brilliant, as he saw a chance to get by the Ganassi driver and went for it, leaving lots of room as he went by. He stayed in second place for two laps but then Festa retook the spot on lap 26. Prendeville remained right on his rear wing, looking for a way back by him, until the pace slowed on lap 31 when Scarallo was pushed into the wall in Turn Three.
Hopes were high that Prendeville might be able to regain second on the restart on lap 36. Instead, Camara got by him by what several people saw as jumping, but the officials didn't see it that way and Camara wasn't penalized.
He didn't get another chance to regain a podium spot. The yellow flew once again on the very next lap, this time for moisture in Turn Two. The rain held off but the race ended under that yellow, and Prendeville finished fourth. It was his best finish so far in this series.
Scarallo had an eventful race too, although the ending didn't go as hoped. He started 16th, quickly moved up to 13th, and began working up from there once the race really got going on lap 10. He had a great restart on lap 10 and moved into 11th place on lap 11 by passing Stephen Simpson. He broke into the top 10 on lap 13 by passing Tom Wieringa, and he got ninth on lap 15 when Sean Guthrie dropped back.
He held ninth from laps 15 through laps 30 except for three laps when he dropped a spot, and he was running in ninth place when contact with Brownson put him into the Turn Three wall. He wasn't hurt but unfortunately his car went off on a tow truck's hook, and he ended up 20th in the final rundown.
Andrew Prendeville: "I got beat on the last restart, but it was a good race.
"We know we can race with the top teams. There's Sam Schmidt; Andretti Green; Ganassi, and now we're there too. We can compete with the top teams.
"The beginning of the race had those yellows, and I told myself to sit back and sit tight and stay out of trouble.
"We were able to pick off a lot of guys. The pass on Festa was a little bit opportunistic. He got hung up going into Three and I timed it just right and passed him coming out of Four. I was able to get by him cleanly, and then he got me back a couple laps later.
"The last yellow screwed everybody up. I don't think the rain cost me from making the podium though. I think it was that jump start.
"The car was perfect. It was good in traffic. They say I set the fastest lap of the race.
"I want to thank my team, RLR/Andersen Racing, and for everybody who donated to Best Friends through racinglapsforbestfriends.com. We finished all 40 laps; we were as high as second; and we finished fourth. We're getting better all the time."
Joey Scarallo: "It was Jon Brownson. I was already by him and he pushed me into the wall. I caught him going down the backstretch and passed him. I was on the outside, and then he came up and hit me. Once I hit the wall, it was all I could do to keep it up there and not have it come back down the track. I had my hands full.
"It was just a stupid move. There was no reason for that whatsoever. They give 30-minute spiels in the drivers' meeting and then people drive like that anyway, and it costs people like me.
"Our GroupAWheels.com car was really working great though. I was working it out running in and out of the dirty air. If we would have qualified better we would have finished higher. If we could have started in the top eight it would be a whole different result. My teammate qualified tenth and he had a better result. But when you start closer to the back you're running with some drivers who aren't as smart as they need to be and they're more desperate, and then things happen like what happened to me today.
"They say there are two types of guys who have run at Indy: those that have hit the wall and those who haven't. Unfortunately I'm now in the first group, but the car isn't hurt too bad and we have another race coming right up in Milwaukee."
Dan Andersen (team owner): "I think the experience of being here was awesome. I'm very proud of our team. Every member of the team takes care of his or her responsibilities without me having to tell them anything. That makes me feel kind of useless, but also very proud.
"The Cape brothers prepared two very good race cars. Andrew had the fastest lap of the race. From what I saw, he got jumped on the last restart and our hopes for second turned into coming in fourth. Joey didn't make a mistake either; he got pushed into the wall while he was running ninth. But it was still a great experience."