Archive for May 15, 2008

Speedway Sightings …

By: Wm. LaDow
Daily Trackside Reports from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Published in the Post-Tribune — May 14, 2008
Speedway, Indiana

When contemplating how to run an IndyCar at 220 miles per hour, your first prerequisite would likely be to have perfect weather. Secondly, you would probably demand a perfectly dry track with some race tire rubber built up on it.

Here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today … not so much.

Wednesday morning brought more rain to the Indianapolis area.

As the day went on, it really wasn’t clear if any of the race teams pent up in Gasoline Alley were going to get a chance to shake down their cars.

Finally, at 5:19 p.m. the green flag flew. Over the course of 30 minutes, Indy race teams laid down almost 1,000 miles of track time before rain ended the session prematurely at 5:49 p.m.

Twenty-nine cars including six of the eleven already qualified for the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 got some sorely needed track time.

High speed for the day belonged to the race polesitter Scott Dixon at 222.834 miles per hour. Second fastest was his Target Chip Ganassi teammate Dan Wheldon at 222.810 mph and third fastest was Marco Andretti at 222.801 mph. Marco was followed on the speed charts by his two Andretti-Green teammates, Hideki Mutoh and Danica Patrick, both over 221 mph.

Dixon’s stated goal was to “determine how his car handled in traffic and see how the balance was.” He went on to say “We have a little bit of understeer, but it was good day for Team Target because you learn something every time you’re on the track

As the end of the day’s practice session neared at 6 p.m., an example of the sheer magnitude of this premier racing facility was experienced as we witnessed practice along pit lane. With eleven minutes left in the session, the yellow flag was waved indicating a caution. Anticipating debris on the track we were later informed the cause of the yellow was that it was raining along the backstretch, east of us.

Speedway Sighting Notes …

Following his crash into the Turn 1 SAFER barrier and subsequent visit and tests at Methodist Hospital last week, Rahal/Letterman Ganassi driver Alex Lloyd was cleared to drive today by Dr. Michael Olinger, Medical Director for the Indy Racing League. Lloyd participated in practice running over 219 mph sporting new livery from his newly announced sponsor in the No. 16 Wii Fit Dallara/Honda. Commenting on how he felt after practice Lloyd said “I feel fine, absolutely perfect. One hundred percent. Lloyd’s time testing was strictly for determining the soundness of his rebuilt car after his crash on “Fast Friday.”

Car owner Greg Beck had been quoted in the Indianapolis Star as saying that “Either Alex Barron or Roger Yasukawa, both five-time Indy 500 starters, will be in my car. It’s just a matter of whose money shows up first.” Apparently Yasukawa’s check cleared first because Wednesday morning it was announced that Roger got the ride in the No. 98 CURB/Agajanian/Beck Motorsports car. It is Beck Motorsports thirteenth year in a row running in the 500.

The No. 21 Playa Del Racing entry has been officially withdrawn and replaced by the No. 88 Gardner Trucking/American Dream Motorsports Panoz/Honda with 2007 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, Phil Giebler behind the wheel.

Jeff Simmons will attempt the Indy “double” of driving in Carb Day’s Indy Lights Series’ Freedom 100 and the May 25th ‘500’. Simmons driving for AJ Foyt’s Indy Pro Series team in 2004 accomplished the same feat when he finished second in the F100, and sixteenth in the rain-shortened Indy 500 won by Buddy Rice after starting in the tenth row.

Andretti Green Racing driver and second-row 2008 Indy 500 starter Danica Patrick is on the cover of the May 19th issue of Sports Illustrated, available at newsstands Wednesday, May 14.

For those interested in owning some Indy car history, Champ Car, by virtue of its bankruptcy, is auctioning off their remaining assets on June 3 at their former headquarters at 5350 W. Lakeview Parkway, South Drive, in Indianapolis. Included in the auction are race cars, pace cars, shop equipment, scoring/timing equipment and memorabilia. Auction info can be found at