Archive for May 12, 2013



By: Wm. R. LaDow

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Published in the Post-Tribune –  A Chicago Sun-Times Media Company

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened for business today with gray skies and a chill in the air.

During the course of the afternoon however, the sun shown long enough for some quality teams to post some substantial speeds as they began the long, arduous task of readying themselves for qualifying beginning on May 18th.  By the end of day’s business, the 220 mile per hour mark had been broken by five different drivers from five different race teams.

Fastest speed of the day was recorded by Ed Carpenter in his Chevy-powered, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara at 220.970 mph.  Next was second-year driver; Josef Newgarden in the No. 21T Sarah Fisher Hartman/Century 21 Honda/Dallara at 220.920 mph.  Following Newgarden was Andretti Autosport rookie Carlos Munoz in the Unistraw No. 26 Chevy/Dallara at 220.720 mph.  Closing out the 220 mile per hour club for the day were; Charlie Kimball, in the No. 83T Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Honda/Dallara and Alex Tagliani in the No. 98 Team Barracuda-Bryan Herta Autosport Honda/Dallara, who registered speeds of 220.663 mph and 220.248 mph respectively.

“We had a good race and a good car in the race, but really I have bad memories from last May because we struggled a lot and we weren’t prepared,” Carpenter said. “I think the whole team was really determined to come in prepared this year and they’ve done that.”

Of the thirteen drivers who put their cars through the paces, three were Indy 500 Rookies who completed the Speedway’s Rookie Orientation Program (ROP) prior to their running in full practice.

AJ Allmendinger in his Chevy-powered, Roger Penske No. 2 IZOD machine was the first to complete the ROP. He was followed by Tristan Vautier in the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda/Dallara and Carlos Munoz in the Andretti Autosport Unistraw No. 26 Chevy/Dallara. The three drivers completed the ROP program in just 90 minutes of the allotted two-hour window.

AJ Allmendinger on discussing his day getting used to the Brickyard – “Oh, I’m a rookie. I feel like it out there. I have to admit, the first lap on the racetrack was pretty special going down the back straightaway and thinking about that I was at Indy preparing for the Indy 500, especially being in a Roger Penske race car. For me, it was pretty cool. I was kind of just thinking about that as I was going down the straightaway. Then I realized that corner comes up really quick, so I should start focusing again. All around for me, I thought it was better than expected. I didn’t really know what to expect. I was pretty much making myself nervous and stressing myself out thinking about what was going to happen. You know, I really have to thank Helio (Castroneves) a lot, because for him to shake the car down was one thing. But to be there on the headset talking to me before, during and after; that guy’s obviously got a wealth of knowledge and experience at this place. For him to take the time out of the day when he could have been working on his own program or just back at the trailer relaxing, it meant a lot to me. I have to thank him a lot for getting me up to speed pretty quick.”

Allmendinger when asked “Does previous stock car racing experience here help?” said “No. It just tells me that there are four corners around this racetrack and I have an understanding of what they feel like. Obviously, it’s two different race cars. Completely different race cars. The line and just the way the track feels, that I kind of knew, but from there it’s a completely different technique of how to get in the corners. You can’t hit the brake pedal, and you don’t want to lift. Trying to get used to that. The first few laps when I was trying to go wide-open, the right foot was quivering. I had to get the left foot to hold it down and say, ‘OK, it’s time to get used to this.’ It was enjoyable.”

The only Indy 500 Rookie yet to participate in the ROP is AJ Foyt Racing’s Conor Daly, who is in Barcelona, Spain, where he finished in 3rd place in Saturday’s GP3 race. Upon his return stateside, Daly will complete his ROP on Monday

In other news at IMS, the qualifying field was increased to 35 entries (for the 33 spots on the grid;) as Sam Schmidt announced he will now be involved with three entries in this year’s race, as he filed an entry for the No. 99 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car (no driver yet named.) Schmidt will also field the No. 55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry for Tristan Vautier and No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports car for veteran Simon Pagenaud. All will be Honda-powered.