Archive for May 16, 2010

Speedway Sightings …

By: Wm. LaDow
Daily Trackside Reports from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Published in the Post-Tribune — May 16, 2010
Speedway, Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS — At noon Saturday, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway came alive for its first day of practice, as IndyCar teams started the process of shaking down their cars for the 94th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 30th.

In a rush of traffic, it appeared that the very first car to get on the track was defending champion Helio Castroneves, whose presence here the last two days has shown a man quite focused on his mission to become only the fourth, four-time winner of the greatest spectacle in racing.

Of the 27 cars that hit the track on the afternoon, 26 of them ran laps of 221 mph or better, with the top speed for the first day the 226.603 mph clocked in by Team Penske’s Castroneves in his No. 3T backup car. The next fastest was Dario Franchitti at 226.535 mph, also running in his backup car, the No. 10T. As a group, Indy 500 veteran drivers laid down a total of 451 laps of practice.

On the day, 11 drivers were above the 224-mph mark. In all of qualifying last year, only three drivers qualified faster than 224 mph.

Andretti Autosport relied on Tony Kanaan’s expertise for the “team” setup as he drove all five of the Andretti entries during the two-hour practice. Cars for Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, John Andretti and Danica Patrick all were initially driven by Kanaan, before being turned over to their respective drivers.

Rain curtailed practice on three occasions during the course of the afternoon, eventually ending practice activities early, with the rookie group getting very little track time, only registering 146 laps. With rain again threatening today, race teams are already beginning to feel the pressure of the shortened track schedule as they try to bring the cars up to both qualifying speed and race trim for the 500.

IMS and Indy Racing Series Race Control announced that today’s schedule would be adjusted to allow more track time for both groups. Rookie drivers will be allowed to begin practice at 11 a.m. and run until 3 p.m. The veteran drivers group will run from 3-6 p.m.

* Quote of the Day: “Dad taught me everything I know. Unfortunately, he didn’t teach me everything he knows.” — Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser, Jr. talking about his father, four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser.