Optimism abundant at Indianapolis …

Posted: May 5, 2008 in Uncategorized

By: Wm. LaDow
Daily Trackside Reports from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Published in the Post-Tribune — May 4, 2008
Speedway, Indiana

There was something mesmerizing about this morning’s sunrise against the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Pagoda. The sun’s rays seemingly glistened against the huge panes of glass and metal on the 10 story behemoth that overlooks the main straightaway of the world’s most famous speedway. It may have been signaling the dawn of just another new day, but this Month of May, it was likely signaling the dawn of a new era for IndyCar racing.

I’ll be the first to admit that over the last three decades that I have witnessed races at the storied Brickyard, at times, there may have been a more talented group of drivers, more exotic cars and even higher speeds. But I have never seen as much optimism about the future of what used to be the cornerstone of American motorsports as I did today at Indianapolis.

The unified IndyCar Series with six additional teams coming over from the Champ Car World Series has increased the Indy 500 field to close to 40 driver and car combinations looking to qualify over the next two weekends. The excitement for the upcoming 92nd running of Indianapolis 500 is clearly already beginning to build.

The speedway got down to business at noon with orientation for the 2008 Indy Rookie class. Thirteen drivers make up the largest group of Rookie drivers here since 1997. The four-stage program kept the two and one-half mile speedway busy for most of the afternoon with speeds exceeding 220 mph by the end of the day.

With the likelihood that a third of this year’s field will be made up of Rookie drivers, the possibility of having a Rookie winner clearly exists.

Beginning Tuesday, full IndyCar practice begins with expectations of speeds well into the mid 220 mile per hour mark are expected.

Gasoline Alley Notes ..

Rookies running the Brickyard today were: Will Power, Alex Lloyd, Graham Rahal, Oriol Servia, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Mario Moraes, Jay Howard, Enrique Bernoldi, Justin Wilson, Jaime Camara, Hideki Mutoh, and EJ Viso. Both Rahal and his Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing teammate Justin Wilson effortlessly completed their Rookie Orientation Program by early afternoon, their runs being quite impressive.

Beautiful, clear weather made for an excellent day of track time with over 660 total laps completed.

Starting tomorrow refresher sessions will be offered for drivers: Buddy Lazier, Phil Geibler, Davey Hamilton, Max Papis, Sarah Fisher and Larry Foyt. In addition, several others drivers are here at the speedway seeking rides. One notably absent remains to be Paul Tracy who has yet to find an opportunity with sponsorship. Word around the speedway is that he was hoping for an opportunity with Derrick Walker Racing, but Walker has continually stated that he does not have enough sponsorship for another run for the Borg-Warner Trophy.

The next five days will be a myriad of activity as the search for speed continues.

Final Speeds for Opening Day:

Rank Car Driver Name Speed

1 8 Will Powerl 220.694
2 33 EJ Viso 220.445
3 5 Oriol Servia 220.102
4 16 Alex Lloyd 219.964
5 27 Hideki Mutoh 219.824
6 17T Ryan Hunter-Reay 219.797
7 34 Jaime Camara 219.175
8 06 Graham Rahal 218.619
9 02 Justin Wilson 218.142
10 36T Enrique Bernoldi 217.338
11 24T Jay Howard 217.247
12 44 Max Papis 214.068
13 19 Mario Moraes 186.445

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