Archive for May 17, 2018

Graham Rahal screams into Turn 1 during practice for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- IndyCar Image by Joe Skibinski

Graham Rahal screams into Turn 1 during practice for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — IndyCar Image by Joe Skibinski

By: Mark Robinson — IndyCar.com

INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, May 17, 2018) – Famous names set the pace in the third day of practice for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, with the likes of Rahal, Kanaan and Andretti atop the speed chart.

Graham Rahal, the son of 1986 Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, was fastest of the 35 Verizon IndyCar Series drivers on track Thursday, putting down an early lap at 226.047 mph in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda that held up throughout the seven-hour session.

Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner, was 2nd fastest at 225.896 mph in the No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet was followed by Marco Andretti, the 3rd-generation racer and grandson of 1969 Indy 500 champion Mario Andretti, who ranked 3rd at 225.584 mph in the No. 98 U.S. Concrete/Curb Honda. Andretti’s fast lap of 227.053 mph on Wednesday remains the best of the week thus far.

Rahal explained that he was attempting a qualifying simulation when he set the fast lap, with the assist of a car coming out of the pits ahead of him.

“Stefan Wilson came out in front of me,” said Rahal, who drives for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team co-owned by his father, Bobby. “He was at the end of the back straight as I was going out of (Turn) 2. I thought, for once I’m just going to stay in it (on the accelerator). Not normally my M.O., but I thought I might as well put a good one up there, at least lower my dad’s blood pressure for the night.

“Today was definitely a good day for us overall just to make a huge step forward in a lot of phases.”

Drivers again spent much of Thursday running in groups getting accustomed to how their cars react in traffic under race conditions. Some made qualifying simulation runs when the track was quieter, in preparation for this weekend when the 33-car field will be set for the iconic 200-lap race on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

Will Power, fresh off a win May 12 in the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS road course, topped the list of driver laps without the benefit of a tow from cars ahead. Driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Power’s 223.971-mph lap headed up the no-tow chart. Sebastien Bourdais, in the No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda, was second on the no-tow list at 223.348 mph.

Speeds are expected to increase on “Fast Friday,” the final day of practice before qualifications. INDYCAR permits an increase in engine turbocharger boost of 100 millibars, equating to about 50 added horsepower. With the same boost level a year ago, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon won the Verizon P1 Award for the pole position with a four-lap average speed of 232.793 mph.

Kanaan, who sat on the Indy 500 pole in 2005, said the focus now shifts completely to dialing in a qualifying setup in Friday’s practice that will hopefully carry over to the nail-biting four-lap attempts on Saturday and Sunday.

“Tomorrow, it’s just Fast Friday and you worry about four laps (in qualifying simulations),” Kanaan said. “That’s all you’ve got to worry about. Then four laps (in qualifying) the next day, and hopefully (four laps in qualifying) on Sunday. From tomorrow on, it will just be making the car as fast as you can and the most consistent for qualifying.”

The first on-track incident in three days of practice occurred less than a half hour before the end of Thursday’s session. JR Hildebrand drifted high exiting Turn 3 in the No. 66 Salesforce/DRR Chevrolet and skimmed the SAFER Barrier, then slid along the wall before the car came to rest on the track in Turn 4. Hildebrand was uninjured and the car sustained minor right-side damage.

“We were looking forward to making a long run at the end of the day in traffic,” Hildebrand said. “We weren’t that deep into the run and we had something happen in Turn 3 with the car. We are still analyzing what might have happened.

“The car felt out of the ordinary. I didn’t feel like I was losing the car at all. I thought for sure I could save the car, which is why I’m a little confused on what happened.”

Friday’s practice runs from 11am-6pm ET and streams live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, youtube.com/indycar and the INDYCAR Mobile app. Saturday’s first day of qualifying, when the 33-car field is set, streams live on WatchESPN from 11am-3pm before ABC broadcasts the final 2 hours live from 4-6pm. The field’s starting order is determined in Sunday qualifying, which streams on WatchESPN from 2:30-4pm. before ABC picks up the climactic end from 4-6pm The 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 airs live at 11am Sunday, May 27 on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

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Fittipaldi speaks to media for first time since sports car crash

Pietro Fittipaldi and Dale Coyne during a press conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway discussing Pietro's recovery and impending racing return. -- IndyCar Image by Dana Garrett

Pietro Fittipaldi and Dale Coyne during a press conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway discussing Pietro’s recovery and impending racing return. — IndyCar Image by Dana Garrett

Pietro Fittipaldi, whose chance to drive in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time this year ended when he was injured May 4 in a World Endurance Championship sports car crash, met with media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time since the incident.

The grandson of two-time Indy 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi is targeting the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the last weekend of July for his return to the No. 19 Paysafe Honda for Dale Coyne Racing.

“Now it’s my other race,” Fittipaldi said Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Now I’m focused on getting back as fast as possible, you know, getting back to be able to do a good job.”

Fittipaldi, who sustained a broken left leg and right ankle, has already begun physical rehabilitation and therapy in Indianapolis. He has been counseled by his grandfather, cousin Christian Fittipaldi and uncle Max Papis on the path to recovery, as well as teammate Sebastien Bourdais, who sustained fractures in his pelvis and hip when he crashed during an Indianapolis 500 qualifying attempt a year ago.

“I was speaking to him for an hour or so,” Fittipaldi said of Bourdais. “He was telling me all about his recovery, his rehab, how he got back in around eight to 10 weeks, something like that. It’s obviously very inspiring.”

05-17-Eye-Goggles-Concussion-Testing-Demo

INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, May 17, 2018) – INDYCAR drivers are now required to undergo a clinical eye-tracking computer test recently cleared by the Food and Drug Administration. It has been implemented as part of the sanctioning body’s concussion evaluation protocol, it was announced today.

Drivers competing in this month’s Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil – plus drivers in the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder program – have been tested by the innovative system known as I-PAS and created by Pittsburgh-based Neuro Kinetics, Inc. The I-Portal Portable Assessment System, commonly referred to as the “goggles test,” runs high-quality diagnostic tests to evaluate patients with symptoms of dizziness and/or balance disorders, especially those associated with medical conditions such as concussions, migraines or BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo).

05-17-Eye-Goggles-Concussion-Testing-InsertI-PAS resembles a virtual reality headset and is just as portable. It integrates clinical eye tracking with a digital display allowing medical professionals to run a series of non-invasive oculomotor, vestibular and reaction time tests. As part of INDYCAR’s concussion evaluation protocol, I-PAS provides clinicians with objective measures to help determine when drivers can safely return to competition.

The triggers for concussion evaluation begin with clinical symptoms noted by the responding physician at the scene of an on-track incident and/or driver descriptions of concussion symptoms. Ear accelerometer data that meets or exceeds the threshold for a heightened index of suspicion of a concussion is another indication.

“INDYCAR’s medical staff has used a number of tools to help improve its evaluation of concussions,” said Dr. Terry Trammell, safety consultant to INDYCAR and its medical staff. “It is a challenge to balance both the safety of the drivers and the need for them to be on the track to compete. I-PAS has proven to be an important part of the decision-making process as to if and when a driver with the possibility of having had a concussion may return to competition.”

INDYCAR was introduced to the I-PAS technology following the first race of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Driver Will Power’s car struck the wall during the first practice on the St. Petersburg, Florida, street circuit. Nothing about the incident raised concerns. The following day, after winning the pole position at a track-record pace, Power experienced concussion-like symptoms. When he didn’t feel significantly better the next day, he was held out of the race as a precaution.

With aspects of the incident not correlating, Power was sent to be examined by Dr. Steve Olvey, a former Indy car medical director, at the University of Miami’s concussion program. Olvey and his group put Power through a battery of tests, including I-PAS. It was determined that an inner ear infection – not a concussion – had triggered the symptoms.

“That was a game-changer for us,” Trammell said.

INDYCAR began administering I-PAS tests in preparation for the 2017 season and, as part of standard protocol, tested a handful of drivers subjected to forces sufficient to potentially cause a concussion during the season. None of those drivers were found to be outside the normal parameters and were allowed to continue to compete.

I-PAS became a part of the required INDYCAR driver physical regimen prior to the 2018 season, according to Dr. Geoffrey Billows, INDYCAR medical director.

INDYCAR is particularly well-suited to partner with Neuro Kinetics in the introduction of the I-PAS system, given the sanctioning organization’s long history of ongoing data collection. Each Indy car carries a “black box” that collects chassis G-forces occurring during a crash and there are accelerometers tracking head movement in the earpieces of all drivers. This data collection allows analysis of forces that produce injury, and the information is used for real-world reconstruction of the crash to further safety advancements.

Underway is a project to compare testing of drivers who have sustained an impact with ear resultant averages of at least 50 Gs. The purpose of the project is to attempt to determine if there are detectable changes in drivers who were exposed to one or more potentially concussive events over the course of a season but were not diagnosed with a concussion.

“INDYCAR has taken a unique leadership role with regard to head health and in the safety of its drivers, their teams and their fans,” said J. Howison Schroeder, president and chief executive officer of Neuro Kinetics. “The collaboration with INDYCAR – and motorsports in general – has been without peer.”

05-16-Fuel-The-Female-Presentation

NBCSN Reporter Katie Hargitt on stage with Firestone’s Cara Adams and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kate Gundlach during a Fuel The Female presentation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — IndyCar Image by: James Black

By INDYCAR | Published: May 16, 2018

Katie Hargitt woke up one morning earlier this year and realized there was no time like the present.

Hargitt has been in motorsports for 18 years, first as a short-track open-wheel driver and now as an NBCSN reporter on Verizon IndyCar Series telecasts, She often wondered how she could help to find a path for more young women to work in the world of racing, especially in the engineering, mechanical and business side of the sport.

“A few months ago, I woke up, and I thought: ‘This is the year of the woman. We can’t miss this opportunity to bring out young women, empower young women to achieve their dreams and show them all the successful women in the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock.’”

Fuel the Female” was born. The new group aims to empower young women to pursue careers in motorsports and other science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related industries. Fuel the Female’s inaugural event took place Tuesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with 60 Indianapolis Public Schools female students visiting the track for the day and learning more about the exciting world of motorsports.

A variety of women with prominent careers in motorsports spoke to the girls in the North Chalet and the Firestone Suite at the track, sharing their experiences and encouragement about a career in racing, including Indianapolis 500 driver Danica Patrick; Kate Gundlach, assistant engineer for Chip Ganassi Racing; Cara Adams, chief engineer for Firestone Racing; Jessica Mace, mechanic at Andretti Autosport; and Lisa Boggs, Bridgestone Americas director of motorsports.

As the organization grows, Hargitt hopes Fuel the Female will serve as a door for an exciting new world for young women.

“As a reporter, so many times I see young girls up against the fence, looking for someone that looks like them in pit lane,” Hargitt said. “And there’s only a few of them. So I hope that girls come out to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or they come into a Fuel the Female program and it lights a fire in them and a passion in them for motorsports so that we can grow that few into an army.”

Visit fuelthefemale.org to learn more about Fuel the Female, to join the foundation or to donate to the

Hinchcliffe, American Red Cross hosting blood drive at IMS

James Hinchcliffe needed 22 pints of blood to help him survive after a serious crash in practice for the 2015 Indianapolis 500. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver has made it a priority to return the favor.

Hinchcliffe and the American Red Cross are teaming for a special blood drive at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday, May 21, with the goal to collect 105 donations. The first 100 people to donate will receive a free access pass to Hinchcliffe’s garage in Gasoline Alley during the practice day on the 2.5-mile oval.

“It took something like what happened to me for me to understand the problem,” said Hinchcliffe. “I’m working with the Red Cross to do whatever I can to raise awareness about the issue and try to draw people to blood donation.”

The “Hinchcliffe Hundred” blood drive is supported by INDYCAR, IMS and the IU Health Foundation. It will take place from noon-6 p.m. ET in Legends Row adjacent to Gasoline Alley. Donors must be at least 18 years of age and have a gate admission ticket for entry into the track, with free parking available in Turn 3 while it lasts.

A free gate ticket will be emailed to each donor who registers in advance to donate.

To register, visit https://rdcrss.org/2IbkEMw or call (800) RED-CROSS and use the sponsor code HinchcliffeHundred.

Ribbs Indy

Indianapolis 500 Insights

By: Jeff Majeski — Jeff’s Indy Talk

30 Days in MayDay 17

No. 17 — Willy T. Ribbs –1991 Cosby/McDonald’s Lola/Buick

Ribbs had a devil of a time qualifying for his first Indianapolis 500 because the ever-temperamental Buick engine would fail after only a handful of laps.

In the last hour of qualifying, Ribbs shoved aside the frustration, shelved any jinxes and put it in the show, bumping Ton Sneva in the process.

The mechanical gremlins returned on race day, however, and Ribbs lasted only five laps and finished 32nd.

Photo from my 1991 Carl Hungness Indianapolis 500 Yearbook.

#ThisIsMay

#Indy500

Lee Kunzman 16, Ayr-WayLloyd's Eagle Offy

Indianapolis 500 Insights

By: Jeff Majeski — Jeff’s Indy Talk

30 Days in MayDay 16

No. 16 — Lee Kunzman — 1973 Ayr-Way/Lloyd’s Eagle/Offy

Kunzman was considered a rising star in the USAC ranks before his career was derailed by some serious crashes.

In 1973, he joined the Lindsey Hopkins team and moved up from 25th to finish seventh in the rain-shortened race.

After his driving career, Kunzman was part of Ron Hemelgarn’s operation for many years.

#ThisIsMay

#Indy500

1973 Indy 500 Fourth Row Revson

Indianapolis 500 Insights

By: Jeff Majeski — Jeff’s Indy Talk

30 Days in MayDay 15

No. 15 – Peter Revson — 1973 Gulf McLaren/Offy

A front-row starter the previous two 500s, Revson was the first qualifier for the 1973 race and wound up starting 10th and finished 31st after crashing coming out of Turn 4 after only three laps.

That year, I remember my mom taking me a drug store in the Speedway Shopping Center to meet Revson, who was promoting Rev-Up vitamins, and get an autographed picture, which I still have.

#ThisIsMay

#Indy500

Marco Andretti leans into the corner with enough speed to top the practice chart on the second day of practice for the 102nd Indianapolis 500. -- Photo by Joe Skibinski

Marco Andretti leans into the corner with enough speed to top the charts on the second day of practice for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 — IndyCar Image by Joe Skibinski

By: Mark Robinson — IndyCar.com

INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, May 16, 2018) – The speed chart provided the proof when Marco Andretti said he had a good race car on the second day of Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil practice.

The third-generation Indy car driver was fastest in Wednesday’s seven-hour session on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, turning a 227.053-mph lap in the No. 98 U.S. Concrete/Curb Honda. Andretti led a parade of four Honda drivers atop the timesheet a day after Chevrolet owned the first three spots in Tuesday’s opening practice.

This week’s four scheduled days of practice lead up to qualifying for the 102nd running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on Saturday and Sunday, when the grid will be set and bumping one’s way into the 33-car field is expected for the first time in seven years. Indianapolis 500 race day, featuring the world’s largest single-day sporting event, is set for Sunday, May 27 (11 a.m. ET, ABC and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).

Andretti, chasing his 13th straight Indy 500 start and first win in the race, was pleased with the progress his crew has been making.

“It was a pretty productive day,” Andretti said. “We got the car to ‘almost there’ in traffic. We’re not there yet, but I’m sure everybody’s dealing with a similar thing. But we think we have a direction, which is positive.”

Scott Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 winner and four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion, was second fastest on the day, with a lap of 226.329 mph in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

“I think the car was decent,” Dixon said. “The conditions were probably more favorable around lunchtime. (In) the heat of the day, we went through some struggles, went through some pretty big changes.

“A long story short, we ended up finding a couple of good changes. The second-to-last run was fairly decent as far as being comfortable in the car, kind of being very consistent. That was nice. We just ran full downforce all day and tried to work with the car and find better combinations just for being comfortable in traffic and trying to get the car a little more grip.”

Defending Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato was third on the day at 226.108 mph in the No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, with rookie Robert Wickens fourth in the No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda at 226.086 mph. Charlie Kimball was tops in the Chevrolet camp and fifth overall with a lap of 225.887 mph in the No. 23 Fiasp entry for Carlin.

Danica Patrick, completing her stellar INDYCAR and NASCAR racing career at this year’s Indianapolis 500, was 12th on the speed chart in the No. 13 GoDaddy Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing (224.570 mph).

“I ran in traffic virtually all day,” Patrick said. “I feel like that’s going to pay off in the long run. We still have to make the car better, but me getting more comfortable is also going to help that process. So, all in all, it was another good, productive day.”

All 35 entered drivers saw track time, totaling 3,349 laps without incident. Fifteen drivers turned more than 100 laps each, led by James Hinchcliffe with 129 in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda.

All of the fast laps were completed with the aid of the aerodynamic tow from leading cars in a group. The best lap of the day recorded without a tow went to Tony Kanaan, at 223.048 mph in the No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda.

05-16-18 Indy 500 day 2 practice

Practice resumes on Thursday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. ET, ahead of “Fast Friday” practice when engine turbocharger boost is increased by INDYCAR, generating higher speeds for Friday’s practice and weekend qualifications.

Hinchcliffe, American Red Cross hosting blood drive at IMS

James Hinchcliffe needed 22 pints of blood to help him survive after a serious crash in practice for the 2015 Indianapolis 500. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver has made it a priority to return the favor.

Hinchcliffe and the American Red Cross are teaming for a special blood drive at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday, May 21, with the goal to collect 105 donations. The first 100 people to donate will receive a free access pass to Hinchcliffe’s garage in Gasoline Alley during the Indy 500 practice day on the 2.5-mile oval.

“It took something like what happened to me for me to understand the problem,” said Hinchcliffe. “I’m working with the Red Cross to do whatever I can to raise awareness about the issue and try to draw people to blood donation.”

The “Hinchcliffe Hundred” blood drive is supported by INDYCAR, IMS and the IU Health Foundation. It will take place from noon-6 p.m. ET in Legends Row adjacent to Gasoline Alley. Donors must be at least 18 years of age and have a gate admission ticket for entry into the track, with free parking available inside Turn 3 of the oval while it lasts.

A free gate ticket will be emailed to each donor who registers in advance to donate. To register, visit https://rdcrss.org/2IbkEMw or call (800) RED-CROSS and use the sponsor code: HinchcliffeHundred.