A closer look at the 2011 Indy 500 Rookie Class …

Posted: May 25, 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 25, 2011

This year’s Indy 500 field boasts five rookie drivers.

Fastest of the group is IndyCar series regular, JR Hildebrand in the Panther Racing No. 4 National Guard car starting 12th. Hildebrand won the Indy Lights championship for Andretti Green/AFS Racing with four wins and five pole positions in 2009 and has been running with the leaders all month with a fastest practice speed of 226.939 miles per hour. Having 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice as a teammate has clearly paid off for both Hildebrand and Panther Racing.

James Hinchcliffe in the No.06 Newman/Haas entry is another IndyCar series regular who has been running quick all month. Driving for one of IndyCar racing’s legendary teams, he posted a 226.847 mph lap as his fastest of the month and will start 13th. Hinchcliffe is a graduate of Indy Lights where he was the only driver in 2010 to win on both oval and road courses with victories at Long Beach, Edmonton and Chicagoland.

Jay Howard, starting from the 21st position for Sam Schmidt/Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in the No. 88 Service Central car has been around Indy since passing his Rookie Orientation Program in 2008. He was ready to run the Indy 500 that season only to be replaced by John Andretti. In 2010, he qualified then was bumped after posting the fastest lap in morning practice on Bump Day. He ran a limited IndyCar schedule for Sarah Fisher Racing in 2010 and was the 2006 Indy Lights champion driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

Charlie Kimball, an IndyCar series regular, is starting 29th in the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing entry. During the Month of May he logged a fastest lap of 226.822 mph. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2007 forcing him to abandon racing midway through the season, he returned in 2008. Races with continuous glucose monitor that wirelessly transmits data, so he can drink sugar water if his level falls.

Pippa Mann starts 32nd in the No. 36 Conquest Racing car. She finished fifth in the Indy Lights series for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2010 and is only the second woman to win in the series with a victory from the pole in 2010.

It won’t be the need for speed that challenges these rookies come race day, it will be the double-file restarts and the traffic that the world’s most important race brings.

Indy 500 Rookie James Hinchcliffe of Newman/Haas ...

A drivers view of Pit Lane at Indianapolis ...

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