Archive for May 20, 2011

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 19, 2011

With sunshine eventually pushing away the clouds, practice for the 95th running of the Indianapolis 500 got off to a ferocious start Thursday at noon.

At just about the half-hour mark in practice, 22-year-old Swiss driver Simona De Silvestro, the 2010 Indianapolis 500 Rookie-of-the-year, crashed hard against the outside wall coming out of the third turn. By all appearances the car had a mechanical failure throwing into the wall, climbing the catch fence and eventually ending upside down on fire in turn four. Speedway safety team members were able to help De Silvestro from the wreckage and she was transported to Methodist Hospital. She was awake and alert with second degree burns on the back of her right hand and superficial burns on her left. She was released from the hospital later in the day and will meet with IndyCar medical officials Friday to determine if she will be released to drive this weekend for Indy 500 qualifying.

Once the track re-opened a constant line of cars ran lap after lap with speeds rising rapidly. By 2 pm, five drivers had eclipsed the 226 mile per hour mark.

Then at just before 5pm, Alex Tagliani in the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car posted a lap at 227.652 mph, the fastest of the month to date.

“Happy Hour” proved to be all it was expected to be as two more drivers joined Tagliani in the 227 mph plus club. First was the fastest speed of the day (and month), a 227.778 mph lap by Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car and his teammate Ryan Briscoe in the IZOD Team Penske No. 6 entry who clocked in at 227.217, for third best on the day.

Based on the conditions and increase in overall speed of the field it is likely the Pole speed on Saturday will be right at 228 mph.

The speed chart had eleven drivers surpass the 226 mph mark with 32 of them running just above 224 mph. This would put the entire 33 card field with a separation of .roughly 0.68 seconds over a distance of 2.5 miles.

The day’s effort yielded 2394 laps with every entry listed getting track time, a total of 40 car competing for 33 spots.

The question now is, can “Fast Friday” be even faster?