2011 Indy Rookie Class begins quest …

Posted: May 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

Speedway Sightings at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

By: Wm. LaDow
Daily Trackside Reports from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Published in the Post-Tribune, a Chicago Sun-Times Publication
May 13, 2011

Of the seven Rookie drivers slated for Wednesday’s IndyCar Rookie Orientation Program (ROP), six successfully completed the four phase process in methodical fashion.

Leading the way was Panther Racing’s JR Hildebrand registering the fastest lap of the day at 221.533 miles per hour in the No. 4 National Guard Honda-powered Dallara. Working with Hildebrand was new Panther Racing teammate, 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice. Hildebrand finished the day stating ”I felt pretty comfortable right away. Once we got going, I settled in. Obviously tire wear, because the track is pretty green, is something we had to pay attention to, so we had to be pretty efficient with the use of our tires.”

The surprise of the day was the performance of Ho-Pin Tung, the first Chinese driver in the 100 year history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway who was second fastest at 220.477 mph. Tung is part of the Jay Penske-owned Schmidt/Dragon Racing team that also successfully put Formula One and NASCAR veteran Scott Speed through the ROP ending his day with a lap at 219.227 mph. Tung commented “When I started today, I went through a lot of things with my driver coach, Jeff Andretti, and (IndyCar’s) Al Unser Jr. They were a great help to get me through the first few laps. From there, it went really smooth. It was a very exciting day. Everyone knows that the Indianapolis (Motor) Speedway is one of the greatest tracks in the world and to be here as a driver and to be actually driving a car here is a very special experience”

In addition to Hildebrand, Tung and Speed, other IndyCar rookie drivers and their top lap speeds were Charlie Kimball – Chip Ganassi Racing (219.602 mph), Pippa Mann – Conquest Racing (219.166 mph) and James Hinchcliffe – Newman/Haas Racing (219.664 mph).

Completing three of the four mandated phases of the ROP was James Jakes of Dale Coyne Racing (214.563 mph). Rules permit him to complete the fourth phase (10 consistent laps above 215 mph) any time before qualifications on May 21.

The seven Rookie drivers will join the rest of the entrants for their first full practice session on Saturday from noon-6 p.m. (ET) beginning their quest to make to field of 33 for the 2011 Indianapolis 500.

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