95th Indianapolis 500---The Centennial Edition

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95th Indianapolis 500---The Centennial Edition

Postby mlittle » Mon May 09, 2011 6:14 pm

In most major forms of motor racing, there is one track, one venue, that can inspire greatness in those who compete, a place where legends are born...........
......in Formula 1 it is the grandest of all, Monaco.........
........in NASCAR, it is the highbanks of Daytona.........
..........in endurance racing, it is LeMans and the 24 Hours......
.........and in V8 Supercars, one only needs to look at Mt. Panorama and the Bathurst 1000............


In IndyCar racing, la place de magica, "the magic place", can only mean one place...........the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2.5 miles of central Indiana blacktop crowned with a "yard of bricks", ready to present its' laurels to whoever can master its' tricky nature over the course of 500 miles. Win here, and your name is forever enshrined on one of sports' most iconic trophies, the Borg-Warner Trophy. In addition, this year's running of "the Greatest Spectacle In Racing" comes on the 500's 100th anniversary, a Centennial Edition to one of the most storied' races in all of motorsports...............


95th Indianapolis 500 Event Schedule..........
--May 12th, 2011: Rookie Orientation Program
--May 14th, 2011: Indianapolis Star Opening Day, 9am-6pm
--May 15th, 2011: Indy 500 Practice Session #2, 9am-6pm
--May 16th, 2011: Indy 500 Practice Session #3, 9am-6pm
--May 17th, 2011: Indy 500 Practice Session #4, 9am-6pm
--May 18th, 2011: Indy 500 Practice Session #5, 9am-6pm
--May 19th, 2011: Indy 500 Practice Session #6, 9am-6pm
--May 20th, 2011: Indy 500 Fast Friday Practice, 9am-6pm
--May 21st, 2011: Indy 500 Saturday Practice, 9am-11am*
--May 21st, 2011: Indy 500 Pole Day Qualifying, 11am-4:30pm
--May 21st, 2011: Indy 500 Firestone Pole Shootout, 4:30-6pm
--May 22nd, 2011: IMS Armed Forces Day/Bump Day Qualifying, 9am-6pm**
--May 25th, 2011: American Family Insurance 500 Community Day, 9am-6pm
--May 26th, 2011: Firestone Indy Lights Practice & Qualifying, 9am-6pm
--May 27th, 2011: Miller Lite Carb Day Practice, 11am-Noon
--May 27th, 2011: FIL American Freedom 100, 12:30pm(40 laps)
--May 27th, 2011: IZOD Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge, 1:30pm
--May 28th, 2011: 95th Indianapolis 500 Driver's Meeting, 10:40am
--May 28th, 2011: IPL Indianapolis 500 Parade, 5pm
--May 29th, 2011: The Centennial Edition of the Indianapolis 500, 12pm
*---practice can occur at any time during Pole Day qualifying
**---Bump Day Qualifying is 11am-6pm; practice can take place at any time during the session

Broadcast Information
Domestic TV: ABC Sports, 12pm
Domestic Radio: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network(IMS Radio)
Satellite Radio: Sirius XM Radio(check listings for exact times)
International Simulcast: ESPN International & the United States Armed Forces Network


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Last edited by mlittle on Thu Jun 02, 2011 7:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby cmlean » Mon May 09, 2011 9:44 pm

100 years at the Brickyard. Maybe I will try to go to the 100th Indy 500.

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Postby mlittle » Tue May 10, 2011 9:02 am

Updated Centennial 500 Entry List



~~Newman-Haas Racing(2): #2 Oriol Servia, #06 James Hinchcliffe(R)
~~Team Penske(3): #3 Helio Castroneves(W), #6 Ryan Briscoe, #12 Will Power
~~Andretti Autosport(4): #7 Danica Patrick, #26 Marco Andretti, #27 Mike Conway, #28 Ryan Hunter-Reay
~~Richard Petty Motorsports(1): #43 John Andretti
~~Target/Ganassi Racing(2): #9 Scott Dixon(W), #10 Dario Franchitti(W)
~~Ganassi-Snake Racing(2): #38 Graham Rahal, #83 Charlie Kimball(R)
~~Panther Racing(2): #4 J.R. Hildebrand(R), #44 Buddy Rice(W)
~~KV Racing Technology(3): #5 Takuma Sato, #59 E.J. Viso, #82 Tony Kanaan
~~A.J. Foyt Enterprises(2): #14 Vitor Meira, #41 Bruno Junquiera
~~AFS Racing(1): #17 Raphael Matos
~~Dale Coyne Racing(2): #18 James Jakes(R), #19 Alex Lloyd
~~Dreyer & Reinbold Racing(4): #11 Davey Hamilton, #22 Justin Wilson, #23 Paul Tracy, #24 Ana Beatriz
~~Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing(2): #30 Bertrand Baguette, #88 Jay Howard(R)
~~Conquest Racing(2): #34 Sebastien Saavedra, #36 Pippa Mann(R)
~~Sarah Fisher Racing(1): #67 Ed Carpenter
~~Sam Schmidt Motorsports(2): #77 Alex Tagliani, #99 Townsend Bell
~~HVM Racing(1): #78 Simona de Silvestro
~~Bryan Herta Autosport(1): #98 Dan Wheldon(W)
~~Dragon Racing(2): #8 Ho-Pin Tung(R). #20 Scott Speed(R)
~~SH Racing(1): #07 Tomas Scheckter

Unnamed Entries Remaining...............
~~#16 Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing
~~#19 Dale Coyne Racing
~~#57 Sarah Fisher Racing

(5)Indianapolis 500 Winners: Dan Wheldon, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Buddy Rice
(7)Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Award Winners: Helio Castroneves, Tomas Scheckter, Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti, Alex Tagliani, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simona de Silvestro
(4)Indianapolis 500 Female Entrants: Danica Patrick, Ana Beatriz, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann
(4)IndyCar Series Champion Entrants: Dan Wheldon, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan
(8)95th Indianapolis 500 Rookie Entrants: J.R. Hildebrand, James Jakes, Jay Howard, James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball, Pippa Mann, Ho Pin-Tung, Scott Speed
---Youngest Entrant: Sebastien Saavedra, 20yo
---Oldest Entrant: Davey Hamilton, 48yo
---Most Indy 500 Starts: John Andretti, 11 starts
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Opening Day--Rookie Orientation

Postby mlittle » Sat May 14, 2011 5:27 pm

Release the hounds..............Opening Day at the Brickyard has arrived!!!

(from TH, 12 May 2011)
Activities at the Brickyard began today with Rookie Orientation, required of all drivers who are scheduled to make their first start in the 500. Seven drivers took to the track today; six of them completed all four phases of ROP with one driver having finished three of the four phases in ROP........

---RESULTS, ROOKIE ORIENTATION PROGRAM
1} J.R. Hildebrand, Panther Racing, 40.626 sec./221.533 mph(68 laps)
2} Ho-Pin Tung, Dragon Racing, 40.821 sec./220.477 mph(53 laps)
3} James Hinchcliffe, Newman-Haas Racing, 40.972 sec./219.664 mph(101 laps)
4} Charlie Kimball, Ganassi-Snake Racing, 40.983 sec./219.602 mph(73 laps)
5} Scott Speed, Dragon Racing, 41.053 sec./219.227 mph(37 laps)
6} Pippa Mann, Conquest Racing, 41.065 sec./219.166 mph(35 laps)
7} James Jakes, Dale Coyne Racing, 41.946 sec./214.563 mph(51 laps)
*--all of the above drives except for Jakes completed all 4 phases of ROP and are cleared to practice at speed; Jakes completed three of the four phases today but is cleared to complete Phase 4 on the first day of veteran practice on May 14
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Little Al & the Flying Dutchman Take Rookies On Indy Tou

Postby mlittle » Sat May 14, 2011 5:29 pm

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---The speedometer inched above 90 mph heading into Turn 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Al Unser Jr. behind the wheel. Sure it was exceptionally slower than the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion is used to driving on the 2.5-mile oval, but on this early morning he was on a mission to relay pointers to even Rookie Orientation Program participants.

BTW: He was driving with his left hand, using his right to point out details on the track, as the speedometer topped 100 mph on the frontstretch. "You have lots of time out there today so have respect for the racetrack, focus and patience," said Unser, who was joined by two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk in an identical Chevrolet Impala on the racing surface. "The car will let you know what it's doing. All your moves should be nice and smooth, and the more you'll run the more you'll start noticing things."

Such as: The proper attack on the acceleration lane out of the pits on cold tires. Check mirrors when joining traffic coming off the acceleration lane. Stay in the middle of the track on the backstretch coming off the acceleration lane. Check the position of the right-front tire for position upon entry to the turns. Look up on pit lane as cars pop out on you. You don't have the road course downforce. "Everything is anticipation," Unser added. "If you react, it likely will be too late. Your head is ahead of the car."

Luyendyk, a 17-time Indy 500 starter who went through a rookie program in 1985, noted that the 41 driver/car combinations entered have more practice time in the upcoming week than the other 16 IZOD IndyCar Series events combined. "It gives you time on the track without the fast cars around you and you feel a little bit intimidated by everyone being there at the same time," said Luyendyk, who was coaching Charlie Kimball of Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. "Today they go out there a little more relaxed. The (program) is necessary because it gets you mentally more ready to run in traffic at high speeds."

Kimball, driving the No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen car, dispatched with the four speed phases before noon and was using the post-lunch break to get used to the car anew as the crew shed some downforce.
"As you build up speeds over 215 mph, what you do with input becomes even more critical," said Kimball, who also received pit lane input from two-time Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti. "What you're doing with your hands and where you're looking and what you're thinking, and a lot of times everything just quiets down because that is what the car is set up to do.

"To do my first laps in an IndyCar at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on a perfect day, away from the fanfare that is Opening Day and to get my head around it is a great way to go about it."
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Carpenter Leads on Opening Day of Practice

Postby mlittle » Sun May 15, 2011 5:30 pm

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---How appropriate for Opening Day of the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 at the venerable Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which has been the scene of multiple motorsports milestones, that a veteran, a champion and a rookie topped the speed chart.

In a six-hour session cut short by showers, Ed Carpenter was quickest of the 32 entrants to get on the 2.5-mile oval with a lap of 224.786 mph (40.0380 seconds). Scott Dixon, the 2008 race winner and IZOD IndyCar Series champion, was second in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car -- turning only four laps. JR Hildebrand, who was quickest in breezing through the Rookie Orientation Program on May 12, was third (224.433 mph).

There were 669 laps recorded without incident. Second day track activity, with a more favorable weather forecast, commences at noon May 15.
Reigning Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti (224.107) was fourth in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, and 2006 race runner-up Marco Andretti (223.927) was fifth in the No. 26 Team Venom car for Andretti Autosport.

Whether shaking down their primary or backup cars, working on running in traffic or seeing how quick they were off the truck, drivers enjoyed the work on the oval. For full-time competitors, their previous track time has been on four road and street courses.

Carpenter, competing in his first IZOD IndyCar Series event of the season – and first for Sarah Fisher Racing in the No. 67 Dollar General car – has a best start of eighth (2010) and finish of eighth (2009) in seven starts. Of course, Carpenter, stepson of Indy Racing League founder Tony George, covets a victory in the ‘500’ more than any other.

“It's only day one, but it's really exciting to see hard work pay off and see progress,” he said. “We're going to have to keep up the effort because it's a long week heading into qualifying, but I definitely like the start that we're off to.”

Added Fisher, a nine-time Indy 500 starter who announced her retirement from the race car in November: "I was really proud of the boys for starting the month off with little to no error. It was a bonus for Ed to top the charts, but we know we still have a lot more work to accomplish. For this being our first race of the season, we know we have to hit the ground running, and to see the team gelling already is a great testament to our people."

Over at Panther Racing, which has been the Indy 500 runner-up the past two years with drivers Dan Wheldon and Vitor Meira, Hildebrand got the opportunity in his No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing backup car to run in traffic for the first time on an oval. His best lap in the six-hour ROP session [221.533 mph; No. 59 of his 68] came without other cars on the track.

“That’s kind of the priority for me on a personal level, to get out there and figure out what the car is going to be like in traffic,” said Hildebrand, the ’09 Firestone Indy Lights champion, “and I was able to do that a little today. There really wasn’t anything unexpected from my side; it will be different when there will be 10 cars running out there. For a few laps running behind another guy I felt pretty comfortable and the car’s hooked up. For the first day running with a group it was good.”

Other notable Opening Day speeds were posted by 2009 race runner-up Vitor Meira (seventh at 223.192); Paul Tracy (11th at 222.295), who didn’t qualify for the 2010 race; Danica Patrick (12th at 222.232) and 2004 race winner Buddy Rice (14th at 221.461), who’s returned to the track for the first time since 2008.
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Postby mlittle » Sun May 15, 2011 5:51 pm

May 14 Practice Session Top-10
1} Ed Carpenter, Sarah Fisher Racing 40.038 sec./224.786 mph(32)
2} Scott Dixon, Target/Ganassi Racing 40.091 sec./224.491 mph(6)
3}(R)J.R. Hildebrand, Panther Racing 40.101 sec./224.433 mph(16)
4} Dario Franchitti, Target/Ganassi Racing 40.159 sec./224.107 mph(7)
5} Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport 40.192 sec./223.927 mph(14)
6} Ryan Briscoe, Team Penske 40.213 sec./223.811 mph(29)
7} Vitor Meira, A.J. Foyt Enterprises 40.324 sec./223.192 mph(39)
8} Graham Rahal, Ganassi-Snake Racing 40.402 sec./222.764 mph(14)
9} Helio Castroneves, Team Penske 40.403 sec./222.755 mph(9)
10} Justin Wilson, Dreyer & Reinbold 40.475 sec./222.360 mph[8]
---32 drivers completed 669 laps during the session
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Passing The Time On A Rainy Day.....

Postby mlittle » Tue May 17, 2011 8:33 am

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----It's a rainy, chilly Sunday morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is about the worst set of circumstances for IZOD IndyCar Series teams that want to continue on-track preparations for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500....So what to do while being a captive in the garage area?

• Sarah Fisher Racing's Ed Carpenter hosts the crew of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. The flight demonstration team is in Indianapolis for a local air show this weekend, and performed a flyover the Speedway on Opening Day. Carpenter, a private pilot, gives the pilots and crew a detailed description of the No. 67 Dollar General car.
Petty Officer A.J. Varner, the crew chief, is a Chesterfield, Ind., native He said there's a special bond between him and the pilots of the F-18s.
"When the pilot gets in the jet, there's handshake signaling to him that I've checked the jet," Varner says.

• Dreyer & Reinbold's Justin Wilson is showing videos of his daughters' antics at home. The younger of the two, Jessica, has a strong resemblance to her father -- including the curly hair when he was a youth.

• Many drivers pop in to the Al Unser suite to greet youngsters as part of Indy 500 Kids Club. Scott Speed and Ho-Pin Tung get their faces painted in the shape of the Dragon Racing logo. James Hinchcliffe is spotted leaving with a cupcake "for later."

• Bertrand Baguette and Jay Howard, teammates at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for the '500,' are the only drivers in firesuits. They mug for the camera before getting serious to have their official headshots snapped.

• Ryan Hunter-Reay heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum for the first time ever to check out the collection of 67 Indianapolis 500-winning cars and other memorabilia on the main floor. Alex Lloyd checks out the 2012 Dallara Automobili concept cars on display. "I liked them in photos but look even better in person," he says.

• Ana Beatriz, Davey Hamilton and Sebastian Saavedra are checking in with their engineers, going over details of the practice program for when they have the opportunity to get on the track. "It is what it is," Hamilton says.

• The motorcoach lot also is quiet, but it's where many more drivers are huddled in their rolling hotels. The scheduled noon-6 p.m. (ET) practice session was canceled at 1:08 p.m. because of the persistent rain. The weather forecast for the May 16 (noon-6 p.m.) practice is significantly better. "I was really looking forward to getting back in the No. 6 IZOD Team Penske car to continue checking items off our list, but the weather just wouldn't cooperate with us," said Ryan Briscoe, who was sixth quick on Open Day (223.811 mph). "My engineer, Eric Cowdin, and I were able to spend some time talking about what we'd like to accomplish when we do get back out there. I feel bad for the fans, especially. There were a lot of people here at the Speedway looking forward to seeing some cars on track. Hopefully, we'll be able to get back out there on Monday."
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Tags Fastest On Monday

Postby mlittle » Tue May 17, 2011 8:35 am

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---Three hours before the green flag flew to start the six-hour practice session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Alex Tagliani bounded into the Sam Schmidt Motorsports garage and started preparing for the day's activity. "He's amped up," team owner Sam Schmidt laughed following the daily engineering meeting.

Stretching out the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins car on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time was the best remedy for two weeks of on-track inactivity since the IZOD IndyCar Series race in Brazil for the Quebec native, and he enjoyed the ride. Tagliani topped the speed chart with a best lap (of his 17) of 225.878 mph -- the best of the nine-plus total hours of track time.
Seven different teams were represented in the top 10 as 39 drivers recorded 1,379 laps in a stiff, cool breeze without incident. Rookie Jay Howard was the lone entrant not to make an appearance -- by design based on tire management. Scott Dixon (225.124) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Grahal Rahal (225.071) of Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing, Ryan Briscoe (225.016) of IZOD Team Penske and Oriol Servia (224.903) of Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing filled out the top five.

A year ago, preparations for the Indianapolis 500 didn’t kick off as Tagliani would have planned. “One of the biggest fears in my mind during my years of racing has been being sick in the car or being sick during a race weekend, and I’ve been lucky enough that it’s only happened once,” said Tagliani, referencing competing in a race in Australia while recovering from food poisoning. “When I went to the hospital to get some antibiotics, they put me in the emergency room and then they said ‘we have to transfer you upstairs and keep you.’

“That’s when my heart started beating very fast and I said ‘I can’t stay.’ And they asked why. And I said ‘I have to go run at the Speedway.’ They asked if I was a driver and I said ‘Yes, it starts the next day.’ So they put me in the intensive care and they gave me extensive breathing treatments and put me on antibiotics and they kept me for 48 hours.”

Tagliani, who was diagnosed with asthma as a youth, didn’t participate on Opening Day and ran only 17 laps the next day “because I couldn’t really breathe in the car.” But a week after his hospital stay, he qualified on the second row for the 500 Mile Race. “It definitely started in a way that I didn’t think I would get out of it,” said Tagliani, who finished in 10th place. He’s looking for more this May, and is enthused because of the addition of Townsend Bell, a four-time Indy 500 starter who was 19th on the speed chart May 16 (223.324), as a teammate at the Speedway. Tagliani, who has a pair of top-10 finishes in the four IZOD IndyCar Series street/road courses, runs solo the rest of the season.

“Our challenge at the other races is we’re by ourselves so if we start the weekend when our car is in the window we can fight for a top-five finish,” said Tagliani, the ’09 Indy 500 Chase Rookie of the Year who’s seventh in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings. “When we are out of the window it is very difficult with the limited time of running. We’re missing the first session and we don’t have anybody we can fall back on (for data). Even the changes sometimes work and sometimes don’t work, so then we’re missing a session and burning tires for nothing.

“Here, what’s exciting is that we’ll be able to work with other people, look at data and increase our pace. We already had the pace last year and we’ll start in the window, and with other people I think we’ll be a pretty strong team this year.”
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Postby mlittle » Wed May 18, 2011 6:21 am

May 16, 2011 Practice Session Top-10
1} Alex Tagliani, Sam Schmidt Mtrspts. 39.845 sec./225.878 mph[17]
2} Scott Dixon, Target/Ganassi Racing 39.978 sec./225.124 mph[10]
3} Graham Rahal, Ganassi-Snake Racing 39.987 sec./225.071 mph[35]
4} Ryan Briscoe, Team Penske 39.997 sec./225.016 mph[29]
5} Oriol Servia, Newman-Haas Racing 40.017 sec./224.903 mph[55]
6} Vitor Meira, A.J. Foyt Enterprises 40.033 sec./224.813 mph[45]
7} Dario Franchitti, Target/Ganassi Racing 40.106 sec./224.406 mph[8]
8} Helio Castroneves, Team Penske 40.116 sec./224.348 mph[32]
9} Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport 40.140 sec./224.215 mph[34]
10} Will Power, Team Penske 40.182 sec./223.985 mph[34]
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Weather Limits Practice Tuesday at the Brickyard....

Postby mlittle » Thu May 19, 2011 7:12 am

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Andretti Autosport's Mike Conway was one of only two drivers to make practice runs on-track Tuesday; teammate Marco Andretti was the other to practice Tuesday

4:05 p.m. ET:Track activity is officially over for the day.
3:15 p.m. ET:The track is yellow again.

2:16 p.m. ET: Mike Conway heads out in his own car and turns 8 laps with a best of 219.910 mph. Tomas Scheckter sits on pit lane in his car but does not go out. Panther Racing is also on pit lane with Buddy Rice's car.

"We made quite a few changes to the Hire Heroes car overnight," said Conway, "and we just wanted to feel some of those things and see what we had. These were certainly not ideal weather conditions and aren't representative of what we're going to see in a few days, so it didn't make too much sense to log a lot of laps. We'll just keep chipping away as the week goes on and learn as we go."

1:32 p.m. ET: The track goes green, but no one goes out. Helio Castroneves' crew practice pit stops.
1:12 p.m. ET: The first taker in today's blustery conditions is Marco Andretti, piloting teammate Mike Conway's No. 27 entry.

Andretti ran five laps, setting best lap of 220.656 mph before the yellow flag came out due to weather. Andretti said of the run, "I took (Mike) Conway's car out for a few laps, just to get the feel of a different set up but the weather just wasn't on our side today. There really wasn't much to be learned as far as the cars go. We'll hope for better weather tomorrow so we can get some much needed track time for the Venom car."

12:00 p.m. ET: Cold temperatures and a light drizzle means pit lane is empty at the scheduled start time.

Fun paddock note while waiting for conditions to improve: The boys at Team Penske have recently turned Ryan Briscoe onto Chappelle's Show and Eddie Murphy's two brilliant stand-up comedy features, Delirious and Raw. Chappelle's 'Rick James' episode is apparently now a favorite for the Aussie...Briscoe's car-to-pit radio transmissions could be a lot more colorful this month.

1} Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport 40.788 sec./220.656 mph[5]
2} Mike Conway, Andretti Autosport 40.926 sec./219.910 mph[8]
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Postby mlittle » Sat May 21, 2011 1:09 pm

19 May 2011 Practice Session Top-10
1} Will Power, Team Penske 39.512 sec./227.778 mph[83]
2} Alex Tagliani, Sam Schmidt Mtrspts. 39.534 sec./227.652 mph[18]
3} Ryan Briscoe, Team Penske 39.610 sec./227.217 mph[62]
4} Helio Castroneves, Team Penske 39.660 sec./226.927 mph[97]
5} Townsend Bell, Sam Schmidt Mtrspts. 39.693 sec./226.741 mph[53]
6} J.R. Hildebrand, Panther Racing 39.730 sec./226.527 mph[32]
7} Oriol Servia, Newman-Haas Racing 39.740 sec./226.471 mph[66]
8} Scott Dixon, Target/Ganassi Racing 39.743 sec./226.453 mph[97]
9} Ed Carpenter, Sarah Fisher Racing 39.757 sec./226.376 mph[85]
10} Danica Patrick, Andretti Autosport 39.776 sec./226.267 mph[55]

Fast Friday Practice Session Top-10
1} Helio Castroneves, Team Penske 39.368 sec./228.611 mph[117]
2} Alex Tagliani, Sam Schmidt Mtrspts. 39.417 sec./228.327 mph[26]
3} Scott Dixon, Target/Ganassi Racing 39.442 sec./228.181 mph[70]
4} Ryan Briscoe, Team Penske 39.469 sec./228.029 mph*[107]
5} Bertrand Baguette, RLL Racing 39.469 sec./228.028 mph*[49]
6} Ed Carpenter, Sarah Fisher Racing 39.471 sec./228.017 mph
7} Will Power, Team Penske 39.481 sec./227.958 mph[106]
8} Townsend Bell, Sam Schmidt Mtrspts. 39.486 sec./227.927 mph[16]
9} Oriol Servia, Newman-Haas Racing 39.547 sec./227.580 mph[76]
10} Dan Wheldon, Bryan Herta Autosport 39.567 sec./227.463 mph[31]
*--Briscoe's time to the 1/10,000th was .4686, Baguette's time to the 1/10,000th was .4688
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Fast Friday A Preview To Qualifying.......

Postby mlittle » Sat May 21, 2011 1:11 pm

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----Helio Castroneves laid down a marker of 228.611 mph that roused the sun-soaked crowd at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and raised a few competitors’ eyebrows on Fast Friday. Great. All he has to do is come close to replicating it during four-lap qualifications and then in the “Fast Nine” shootout and he’ll earn a record third consecutive Indianapolis 500 pole start.

“That’s all?” Castroneves joked following the six-hour session in which 39 drivers prepared for Pole Day by recording 2,254 laps on the 2.5-mile oval. Eight different teams were represented in the top 10 of the speed chart, and the field was separated by 1.0729 seconds.

“Anything is possible,” continued Castroneves, a three-time winner of the 500 Mile Race. “There is something more in the car, but I think a lot of others have something more as well. Qualifying will be very tight. I can see that my teammates will be strong and there are other guys doing fast times out there, too. I think we will see speeds in the 228 range. It’s difficult to have a clean lap because we have 40 cars, which is very impressive. All my experience here, I never had this type of a scenario that we have so many cars around the track, which shows the series is getting stronger every year. It's going to be fun and can't wait to go out there … and hopefully good numbers will be good enough for tomorrow.”

The top 24 spots in the 33-car field will be available through traditional four-lap attempts from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Each car will have up to three attempts, and bumping begins when the 24 spots are filled. The times of the top nine drivers from this first segment of qualifying will be erased at 4 p.m., with all of those competitors guaranteed to start no worse than ninth.

From 4:30-6 p.m. the “Fast Nine” will be required to make at least one four-lap qualifying attempt and additional/optional attempts are available if time permits. Each driver’s best run will set their position on the starting grid.

Indy qualifications also have an impact on the championship, with 15 points awarded to the pole sitter through three points for starting 25th-33rd. Only the PEAK Performance Pole Award winner in the other 16 IZOD IndyCar Series races receives the bonus (one point).

Castroneves won the PEAK Performance Pole Award presented by AutoZone in 2010 with a four-lap average speed of 227.970 mph. Sebastian Saavedra (223.634) was the slowest of the 33 starters, and the field average was 224.974.

"It's going to be twice as hard to get in (this year), said Saavedra, driver of the No. 34 Conquest Racing car. "The speeds are getting very close to each other and it's going to be very interesting. It's perfect for the 100th anniversary."

Alex Tagliani (228.327) remained strong in the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, while Scott Dixon in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car was third (228.181) on the speed chart. Ryan Briscoe, driving the No. 6 IZOD Team Penske car, was fourth (228.029) and Bertrand Baguette cracked the top five (228.028) in the No. 30 RACB/Aspria Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Special.

“We worked a lot on our qualifying setup and we found many good things in the car,” said Baguette, who seeks to qualify for his second 500 Mile Race. “At the end of the day, the car was really quick and consistent and that’s what we were looking for. Now we just have to do it again tomorrow.”

Positions 25-33 are available on Armed Forces Day/Bump Day (May 22). Bumping begins once 33 cars have qualified.
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Tag Rockets To Indy 500 Pole

Postby mlittle » Tue May 24, 2011 9:11 am

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----The underdogs, the castaways and the forgotten had their day at Indianapolis on Saturday’s run for the pole.

Tagliani, bumped out of the 2009 Indy 500, Oriol Servia, who was unemployed last year, Dan Wheldon, who lost his job for 2011, Townsend Bell, who only races once a year and Buddy Rice, who has been out of IndyCar since 2009, made the Fast 9 session and proved that the dominant teams and drivers can indeed be beaten...at least in qualifying.

For Tagliani, who made the final run of the day, drove into the history books as the fastest qualifier for the 100th anniversary event for the Indy 500.

"We're playing in the big boys league," and we're trying to bring it," said an ecstatic Tagliani. "The next step is to try and win the race. "I'm probably going to be pinching myself until I go to bed. It's been an amazing team effort. We have a great group of people, and the additions with the other cars. I had good input from Townsend (Bell) and Dan (Wheldon) and it's been nice to work as a big group this week. I wanted this one so bad."

The French-Canadian open-wheel veteran had been fast all week, leading the time sheets on multiple occasions, and despite taking the best shots that Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske had to offer, the minnows at Sam Schmidt Motorsports shocked the establishment to place the Bowers & Wilkins-sponsored No. 77 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car on top of the leader board.

The 2011 Indy 500 also marks the 10th anniversary of SSM's first run at the Speedway and Tagliani's pole was the first for a Canadian driver at Indy.

“I’m really lost for words," said Schmidt. "It’s truly huge. Whether it’s the 100th anniversary or whether it’s the adversity that Alex has overcome. It’s just really large.”

Tagliani's laps of 227.733, 227.488, 227.430 and 227.238 were fast enough to demote Ganassi's Scott Dixon to second place. Tagliani's 227.472 average was just slightly faster than the 227.340 produced by Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 winner.

"It was kind of a strange day," said Dixon. "Even to see Helio starting 16th is kind of mind-boggling. We missed a little bit. Dario obviously missed on fuel a little more than we did. He ran out going into Turn 1 and I ran out into Turn 4 and I think that cost me the pole. We lost nine-tenths of a mile-per-hour on that last lap. To come so close and to not get it was quite frustrating. Mistakes happen. That takes nothing away from Tagliani and what he’s achieved, though."

Third place went to Oriol Servia who sat on pole until Dixon, then Tagliani moved him to the outside of the front row. The Telemundo-sponsored Newman/Haas Racing pilot recorded an average speed of 227.168 during his impressive run.

"Six months ago, a month ago...Monday I would not have predicted we would have made the front row," said Servia. "I figured if we were really luck we would make the top 9. That was our goal. They gave me a great car and we got all out of the car that we could. To have the three Penske cars behind in qualifying it just feels amazing and is such an achievement for the team."

Townsend Bell continued his string of top-caliber runs at Indy to qualify fourth in the second SSM car. Bell drove the No. 99 Herbalife car to an average of 226.887.

"This is my favorite racetrack and the best racetrack in the world, and I just love coming here," said Bell. "It's really just become like a pilgrimage ever year for me to come here from California. It's great to be a part of it. I really want to win this thing, and this is the best car I've had so far. When I start doing stuff in the cockpit on the first lap, you never know how it's going to affect the other side of the track, so I had to make sure I could put a whole lap together in all four corners before I got more aggressive in (laps) three and four. Once we settled down, the time started to pick up. It's a really nice race car and full credit to Tagliani and his engineering staff that really led the program through last year until now. It's just a joy to drive the car."

Will Power--the only Penske driver to make the Fast 9--did his best to hide his disappointment of qualifying fifth after starting in the middle of the front row in 2010.

"Our car was solid all day," he said. "And I was pretty trimmed out so I don’t know what else I could have done. As a team we didn’t do that well, so we’re a bit surprised. There’s not much else to say."

Dan Wheldon made the day for Bryan Herta Autosport as he qualified sixth in his William Rast-sponsored car. The 2005 Indy 500 winner benefited from the technical alliance between BHA and the pole-sitting SSM team, giving the three-car collective an amazing 1-4-6 in qualifying.

"I would have liked to have gone a little bit quicker and pushed Tag (Alex Tagliani) a little bit more," said Wheldon. "It was a lot more gusty than what it has been, and there was a difference in the wind direction. That means you have to be more on top of the controls in the car, and I think I handled that reasonably well. I made a little bit of a mistake on the exit of Turn 4 on the final lap when I just let the wind get underneath the car. To be honest, the speed is a testimony to this team. It's not me; the guys have done a fantastic job. I know what I want from the race car, and we're making it work. Being in a race car is what I love to do. My time off made me realize how much I love motor racing. I'm having a blast. We will be a force to be reckoned with."

Buddy Rice put his un-sponsored Panther Racing entry seventh on the grid for the Indy 500, reminding everyone just how skilled the 2004 race winner happens to be.

"When we unloaded we had such a good car I knew the speed was there," said Rice. "Both Panther cars were fast all week. We just missed it a little bit with the gear[ing] and the weather."

Ed Carpenter kept Sarah Fisher Racing's dream month going by qualifying eighth. the fearless oval specialist set a staggering warmup lap, but struggled for grip throughout the rest of his four-lap run.

"It was a great day for the entire Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing organization," said Carpenter. "We missed on the balance a little bit when we went back out for the Fast Nine, but we're still very happy. We're not here to win the shoot out; we're here to win the race. We'll get back on track tomorrow and continue to work on getting the Dollar General machine set up for the race."

Dario Franchitti won't forget May 21st, 2011 anytime soon after his Target-sponsored car ran out of fuel on his fourth and final qualifying lap.

"We were pretty close on setup with the Target car, but not good enough for the pole today," said Franchitti. "We were definitely good enough for third place. We obviously ran out of fuel at the end of the third lap and that was it. It’s disappointing for us, but I'm happy for Sam Schmidt, Allen McDonald, Alex Tagliani and their whole team."

Behind the Fast 9--and including those who did or didn't make the Fast 9--things were positively strange on Saturday.

• Helio Castroneves, fastest of all on Friday, has the worst Indy 500 qualifying performance of his career and will start 16th.

• Only two of the three Team Penske entries made the top 24, while only two of Ganassi's four cars made the field on Saturday.

• Oriol Servia, unemployed for all of 2010, storms back to make the Fast 9 and qualifies second after never starting better than 25th in his two previous Indy 500s.

• Only one of the five Andretti Autosport entries (John Andretti, 17th) made the top 24, while all four cars from the KV Racing-Lotus/SH Racing stable made it in on Pole Day.

• Both Rahal Letterman Lanigan entries made the top 24 with Bertrand Baguette (14th) and rookie Jay Howard (21st).

• Simona De Silvestro, just 48 hours after suffering serious burns to her hands, makes three qualifying attempts to bump her way in to take the final spot in the top 24.

After spending most of the week down slightly on the speed charts, Sato rocketed to a four-lap average of 225.736 to earn the 10th starting spot.

“It’s a great feeling for me to be standing here today already qualified,” said the Japanese ex-F1 driver. “Last year, we had a moment on qualifying day. This is a terrific day for us. I appreciated the effort the team as given. They have done a terrific job. We are working very closely with the other KV teams. We debriefed last night past 9 p.m. to get ready for today. (My teammate) Tony Kanaan helped a lot. He has tons of ideas. We have all been really good in sharing."

Sato’s teammates occupied the sixth and eighth rows, with E.J. Viso qualifying 18th, Tomas Scheckter in 22nd and Tony Kanaan in 23rd.

“Those were some comfortable laps,” said Viso. “We had a pretty stable car. I feel like we can trim the car a little bit more and find some more speed. The track was pretty good. It was still low temperatures. It was not too abrasive for the tires. There was wind in the back straight, so we needed to be playing with the tools in the car – the front bar, the rear bar, etc. We believe we achieved what we expected. It’s been a great atmosphere with this team. Now we have shared information, and hopefully we can go as fast as we can. It’s such a long race, starting position is not that important, especially in 500 miles.”

Scheckter praised his crew after his solid run for the KV-led SH Racing outfit.

“These guys have been working flat-out,” said the South African. “I've got to thank the REDLINE Xtreme guys for working hard. We've been struggling this month. I mean, that's what Indy's about sometimes. We're going to keep working hard. We feel good because we didn't think we had that in the car. That's the best we've run, so that's an improvement. I thought today was almost not even near getting in; of having a shot. So to put four laps together quicker than what we've done before, I've got to be pleased with that.”

Kanaan, after enduring a brutal Month of May in 2010, was happy to be in the field with his new team but wasn't feeling as safe as he wanted..

"It was not what I wanted, but it was what I was expecting,” said Kanaan. “I'm glad that we got the car in today but tomorrow is another day and we need to see what's going to happen to the field when the bumping begins."

A.J. Foyt's Brazilian pairing of Vitor Meira and Bruno Junqueira represented the team well, with Meira placing his ABC Supply car 11th with a 225.590 average, while 'Junky' secured 19th with a run to 224.691.

“The car was trouble-free," said Meira. "It felt really good. I wasn’t scratching my head. A.J. Foyt Racing did a very good job, pre-month of May, to prepare the car and do all our planning. So when we get here, we’re trouble-free, just like we are now, so we can work on the small details. It comes from working methodically and not drafting on a day that was great. We knew what we had, and everything worked out real fine. The team works methodically to make sure every piece of the car is right, and that’s what they have done so far. We’re not a first-row car; we’re good where we’re at.”

“I am very happy to be able to qualify today and to qualify 19th," said Junqueira. "It was better than expected, and I think the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt team did a very, very good job turning this car around and improving so much. We gained so much speed, we are much closer to Vitor, the car had a great balance in qualifying. We were really trimmed, low downforce, and I was flat all the way around. I enjoyed it so much.”

JR Hildebrand was the fastest rookie in the field on Saturday, posting a 225.579 average to place the National Guard car 12th.

"I think we have a little more speed in the car," he said "The Panther guys have done a great job in preparing this car. This car has been awesome every time we’ve hit the track, and that has really built up my confidence. I’m new to this qualifying gig. I’ve been to Pole Day the last four years as a spectator, and it’s pretty neat to be a part of the big show.”

Hildebrand was shadowed in qualifying by his fellow rookie, James Hinchcliffe. The Newman/Haas driver made a run to 13th with a four-lap average of 225.572, but felt his Sprott-sponsored car.

“I’m fairly comfortable with it," said the young Canadian. "I think the conditions today were pretty tough, and we were a little slower than we expected to run. Given how windy it was, we’re pretty pleased. Everybody is struggling a little bit with the wind. The cars get pretty dicey in the first turn, which is already the most difficult corner. But I feel pretty good. The team did a super job getting everything prepared, and I feel really comfortable in the car. We just need to make sure we make it through 200 laps now that we’ve gone through the first four. Right before I went out, my chief mechanic looked at me and said, ‘No matter what happens, you’re about to try and qualify for the Indy 500.’ That sort of brought it all home. It’s true. No matter what happens, I’m going to go out there and put my right foot down and have a good time. I really enjoyed it.”

Rahal Lanigan Letterman Racing's Bertrand Baguette improved 10 spots from his 2010 qualifying performance to secure 14th for his team with a 225.285. Jay Howard, who was bumped from the field in his first run at Indy last year, made significant gains overnight to qualify 21st in his Service Central-sponsored car.

“We are in the race and that’s the most important part of the day for us,” said Baguette. “But I feel that we are all a little disappointed with the speed, since we were able to do so much in the last couple days with the car. We were targeting a berth in the Fast Nine, and will feel we had to car to get there, which is why we are a little disappointed. But at the end of the day, we are in the race, in a good spot, and are ready to go.’

Howard looked like all of the frustration he'd been carrying for the past 364 days had been released after making the field.

“I’m over the moon about how our day went and am very glad to be in the Indianapolis 500,” grinned Howard. “The run was interesting and I had to use my tools during my run to keep everything where we wanted it, but we were able to keep everything going and put up a good time. It’s great because now we can work on the race car tomorrow and hopefully not have to worry about any more qualifying setups.”

Davey Hamilton, who qualified Sam Schmidt's first entry into the Indy 500 in 2001, posted the 15th-fastest time of the day, running to an average speed of 225.250 for his Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team. The HP-sponsored driver was happy to run so strongly, especially after running faster laps earlier in the day.

"It was a great day, really," he said. "I came in to today thinking that if I'm in the top-16 that I was going to be happy and I'm 15th, so I can't complain. We were down on speed from where we thought we were going to be. Earlier this morning we ran a 225.7 mph, but I thought that I could back it up and maybe improve it, but when the wind came up it kept us in the low 25's. The HP car was great and I'm happy. The team did a good job and we are in the race. Now we have a lot of work to do on the race setups."

Defending pole sitter Helio Castroneves says Team Penske tried everything possible to get his Shell-sponsored car into the Fast 9.

"We went a little bit conservative this morning. We started pushing, and it wasn't quite the way we expected. So we decided to go back like yesterday when we were very solid; great. But all of the sudden, we were just 225.2. The gear wasn't pulling the speed we wanted. So it's a big question mark. You know, it is what it is. It's one of those things. We took a chance to be a little bit more conservative, and it didn't pay off. But, hey, it's not always that we get it right. All the guys out there have done a phenomenal job. It's just so interesting how one small change we did turned out to be kind of like a big change out there. But this is Indy, baby."

John Andretti, the lone Andretti Autosport representative to make the top 24, tried repeatedly to get into the field, and posted a stout 224.981 average to claim 17th.

"There's so much excitement when you're in the front, but there's even more pressure when you're not," said Andretti. "You've only got to go through it once to know you never want to go through it again. After our first couple of attempts, we made a few changes and the car just came to life. The weather helped us; the wind seemed to have died down a bit. The Window World car was quick-the guys on the team did a great job. I've been through this before, so I wasn't panicking but I was ready to be done. This race means a lot to me and my family. For me to be in this race on the 100th anniversary is special; it's nice to be able to do it one more time."

Justin Wilson was a surprise 11th in the 2010 Indy 500 time trials, but the ex-F1 driver had to settle for 20th in 2011.

"I think it has been a reasonable day for the Z-Line Designs team," said the Brit. "I was hoping to go a little bit faster, but I think that the day was pretty slow in the middle. The air was pretty dense and it slowed us down, so the car was really stuck even though we were really trimmed out. We are happy with that. We want to go quicker. I think we have it in us if we have to and we will see what happens tomorrow. We will take it one step at a time."

Pole Day was bookended by two amazing stories. If Tagliani's fairly tale run to pole wasn't good enough, Simona De Silvestro, driving a less-than-perfect backup car after her fiery crash on Thursday, refused to give up on Saturday. The Swiss driver, with burns and blisters on the back of her hands, was bumped from the top 24, failed to make it back into the top 24 on her next qualifying attempt, and finally mustered enough speed to post s 224.392 average to round out the first day of running.

The emotions were running high after De Silvestro got out of the car.

"My body's shaking," she said. "I was pretty nervous out there. We didn't do many laps. I really have to thank Nuclear Clean Air Energy for the support they've given me. The team, too, they worked really hard to get the car back together. A day ago, I wasn't sure if I wanted to get back in the car. I was really freaked out about it. But I think I made the right decision to get back in, and the doctors have taken really good care of me. After the crash, I was like, 'I don't need this. This is too crazy. It's way too dangerous.' You know, after a while you're back to being a race car driver and thinking, 'Nah, I can do this.' And you suck it up. This morning, I felt pretty good. Then I went to qualify and thought, 'Ah, I'm not too sure about that.' And especially when you're sitting and they're showing your crash on the screen. It's like, really? Thanks. But it's great, the crowd, too. They've really lifted me up yesterday and today. Because of them, I really want to do something well here. [My hands are] a little sore, because the skin is pretty tight. We haven't really worked on them yet. We'll see if they want to do that tonight or wait until tomorrow. But they've taken really good care of me. It just looks really gross right now."

Injuries aside, after rain, numerous upsets and some amazing tales that came out of Pole Day, it's hard to imagine how anyone--drivers trying to make the field, and the fans who follow them--could handle the same level of intensity on Bump Day.
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Danica Leads Bump Day Qualifiers

Postby mlittle » Tue May 24, 2011 9:13 am

Two rain delays and worn nerves couldn't stop Danica Patrick from bumping her way into the field for the 100th anniversary running of the Indy 500.

For Patrick, the downhill slide started with an error that was made by her team.

With her No. 7 Go Daddy car scheduled to qualify second on Sunday, she should have gone out when qualifying began at 12:00 p.m. ET to make a run before the first of two rain showers fell. But her car failed to pass technical inspection (for an unspecified reason related to the rear brake shrouds, it is believed) prior to pulling into the qualifying line.

Rather than head out second, she was forced to the back of the qualifying line, and with threatening skies overhead, it appeared to be a costly mistake.

Her frustration was escalating as Graham Rahal--promoted up one spot to take her second qualifying position--completed his run and made the field moments before a huge downpour and lightning strikes shut down the Speedway for more than two hours.

Sunday's six-hour qualifying session saw the first rain delay from 12:09 to 2:23 p.m. ET, followed by another stoppage for rain from 3:12 to 4:43 p.m.

Left to stew for the duration of the first rain delay, Patrick would have to bide her time until she got her shot at making the field.

Patrick waited her turn to qualify once activities resumed at 2:23, and found herself ready to go out just as the second storm front moved in. After sitting in her to wait for the rain to stop, she eventually got out and returned to the garage, looking quite displeased.

Everything brightened at 4:49 p.m. when she posted a four-lap average of 224.861--the second-fastest qualifying speed of the day--to take the 26th starting position.

After qualifying, Patrick said she might need something to help her relax.

“I feel like I need a drink. That’s really how I feel."

Patrick had been quite fast at times throughout the week, but like the rest of her teammates, she was at a loss to explain why her car struggled for speed during both days of qualifying.

“I don’t think there’s a really great answer for why I was faster in qualifying today. I was disappointed with how slow I went at the end. That’s Indy."

Her Andretti Autosport team was the central figure in Sunday's Bump Day drama. With only one of its five entries in the field at the conclusion of Pole Day, the team needed to place Patrick, Marco Andretti, Mike Conway and Ryan Hunter-Reay in the show.

By the time the ceremonial gun fired at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, three of the Andretti cars were in the field--John and Marco Andretti, and Patrick--while Conway and Hunter-Reay found themselves out of the show.

To make matters worse, it was Marco Andretti who bumped Hunter-Reay out of the field while Conway simply lacked the speed to make the cut.

"My teammate beat me out," said Hunter-Reay. "That’s not ideal. This is bad. I can’t even comprehend it at the moment."

For Andretti, his elation was tempered with the knowledge that a teammate had to be sacrificed for his 28th starting spot, while his other teammate failed after many attempts.

"I'm gutted," he said. "I feel terrible for the two of them. All I wanted was a chance. I had all the faith in the world in my guys. We were either going to be in the wall or in the show. I’m grateful to be in the greatest spectacle in racing."

Team owner Michael Andretti was distraught after qualifying came to an end. "As an owner, it’s the worst I’ve ever felt. It just breaks my heart. It’s really a tough day. I don’t know what to say to [Hunter-Reay and Conway]. I just feel so bad for them."

With the top 24 positions in the field set on Saturday, the race to fit 14 cars into nine available spots made Bump Day live up to the hype.

Paul Tracy set the fastest average speed of the day to start 25th with a 224.939 in his WIX-sponsored Dreyer & Reinbold entry. Compared to 2010 when the popular Canadian missed making the field, his strong qualifying run this year was quite a relief., despite the deteriorating weather he encountered.

"We knew we could run those kinds of speeds if we got the opportunity to do it," he said. "Indianapolis has dealt me a tough deck over my career. You know, we didn’t get it on the first day. We missed the set up a little bit and didn’t get a chance to run again. We didn’t want to pull ourselves out of the lineup, but to go out and have it start raining and continue to keep it going is great. The last lap was pretty sketchy. The waiting is stressful. Over last night and this morning, I got a fever blister on my lip. That’s how stressful it is. I don’t get them unless I’m really stressed out. That’s what Indianapolis will do to you. It’ll drive you crazy. It’ll give you the best highs and the biggest lows. I mean, with ‘02, last year, and qualifying a lap and a half in the rain, I definitely have a flair for bringing the dramatics."

Ryan Briscoe put his crash from Saturday morning behind him with a solid 224.639 average in his backup car to secure the 27th starting spot.

“It was interesting to experience the excitement of Bump Day from where I was sitting this morning,” said Briscoe. “I saw Tony Kanaan going through this last year, thinking how awful it must have been. Then here I am in his shoes. It felt great to put together four solid laps during our qualifying session this morning and put together an average that stood up all day.”

Charlie Kimball drove his Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing entry to 29th on the grid after working hard overnight to find the speed they were lacking on Saturday.

“We knew we missed the speed a little bit yesterday morning. We got the setup wrong. I had a little bit to learn as a rookie. Having said that, the 83 Levemir NovoLog FlexPen car was going to be quick. We knew it was going to be fast. The whole Chip Ganassi Racing crew has given me a good car all month. We just had to go out and do it. Last night, we got caught short by rain trying to get a practice run in. This morning we had traffic. Then we were in line, and it rained. We finally got to go out and put up the number I know we're capable of.

"When I got out of the car I thought, ‘I’ve qualified for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500.’ Now it's a dream come true. And to do that as the first licensed driver with diabetes to qualify for the Indy 500 is special; not just for me but for the whole diabetes community out there. I hope I get a chance next Sunday to stop and soak it all in, because it's going to be probably one of the greatest days of my life so far.”

Behind Kimball was his teammate, Graham Rahal, whose Service Central entry required a fresh engine after his power plant went sour on his first qualifying attempt on Saturday. Rahal actually made it out late on Saturday to make another attempt, but a fuel pump failure meant he'd have to try again on Sunday once repairs were made.

He would set a four-lap average of 224.380 to claim the 30th.

“We got lucky," said Rahal. "We got a pretty good draw to go early. Obviously, Danica failed tech, so we got further up the draw. We were very fortunate to get a run in. Now, at the same time, the conditions at which we ran were pretty slow. It was literally as it was starting to rain. The air gets really dense, and therefore it gets pretty slow. Also, when I was looking at data, I was lifting a little bit in (Turn) 1, and I can tell you that the only reason that is because I couldn't see a thing. It was dark, and I had a dark visor on. It all looked like it was a whole bunch of black to me. The Service Central guys did a good job last night."

Alex Lloyd had his own bit of drama as he bumped his way back into the field with seven minutes to go in qualifying. Piloting the Boy Scouts of America entry for Dale Coyne Racing--who Lloyd finished fourth with at the 2010 Indy 500--the Briton was overjoyed after qualifying 31st.

“It’s probably been one of the most stressful days of my career. Since Friday, we’ve lost a mile-per-hour each day. The chances of making the show seemed pretty low. It was all or nothing, and it’s all credit to the guys. We all kept the faith—what little was left of it in the end. The engine was vibrating so much on the fourth lap I couldn’t see where I was going. But we held on. It felt better than finishing in fourth place last year. It’s a very sweet end to a very tough weekend.”

Pippa Mann earned the distinction of becoming the first British woman to qualify for the Indy 500, and made the race by making a big jump in speed from Saturday to Sunday, setting a four-lap average of 223.936 to start 32nd.

“Well, we finally cured the speed problem we had," she said. "We’ve cured our handling issues. We made so many changes overnight. This morning we weren’t happy with the car at all. I went out there with no idea of what I was going to have going into that run. I went into and, ‘OK, this will work.’ I wish I had that knowledge going in, and we could’ve been a bit braver.’”

Ana Beatriz, the fastest woman in the field last year, dropped back from her 2010 starting spot of 21st to 33rd and last this year in her Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry.

"I'm really tired and stressed out because it's just crazy this bump day," said the Brazilian. "Actually, I don't think that we deserved to be put in that position because we were quick enough to qualify yesterday and that made today even tougher for us. Fortunately, the team played the game well and we could qualify and that's the most important thing. For me, it doesn't really matter if we were 26th or 33rd we had to be in the race and it's a long race. We just need to finish and work well and have a good race car."

In addition to Hunter-Reay and Conway, Rafa Matos failed to make this third Indy 500 start, Sebastian Saavedra was unable to find the speed to earn his second start at the Speedway and James Jakes, a complete novice on ovals, tried valiantly to crack the top 33 but came up short.

Dragon Racing, as a whole, had a hellish week that ended with two heavily damaged cars, one driver with a mild concussion (Ho-Pin Tung), another with a question on where he goes next (Scott Speed) and a replacement driver (Patrick Carpentier) who showed promise right before he smacked the wall. Compared to the relatively simple and easy run to 5th at Indy with Ryan Briscoe in 2007 by the Luczo Dragon team--as it was known then, the Speedway held its cruelest blow for Jay Penske's team this year.
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