Daily Trackside Report - Indianapolis 500 Day 1

DAY 1 - TUESDAY, MAY 5, 2009

 

Welcome to the 2009 Indianapolis 500, the fourth race of the 2009 IndyCar® Series season. This is the 43rd edition of the Indianapolis 500 Daily Trackside Report, which was first distributed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1967. As stated on the first page of the 1967 DTR: "This press information has been compiled as an added source of your information in your coverage of the '500.' It is our sincere wish that it will be of assistance in your assignment."

Live timing and scoring reports from the Indianapolis 500 will be available on the Internet at www.indycar.com. The live timing and scoring module provides statistical information, including track segment speeds, lap information and much more.

Feature stories, reports, driver quotes and notes, and photos will be posted on the site each day.
***

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):

7 a.m.

Garages open

9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Firestone Indy Lights Open Test

2-5 p.m.

Rookie Orientation Program

***

Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, director of medical services for the Indy Racing League: Firestone Indy Lights driver Dillon Battistini was re-evaluated at the Clarian Medical Center and has been cleared to drive. He had been hospitalized one night for precautionary reasons at the KU Medical Center following a crash during the Kansas Lottery 100 April 26 at Kansas Speedway.

***

J.R. Hildebrand, driver of the No. 26 Andretti Green Racing/AFS Racing entry, returned to action following his weekend debut in A1GP. Hildebrand competed in the round at Brands Hatch, England, recording a fourth-place finish in the Sprint race and an 11th in the Feature. He had previously participated in three rookie practice sessions for Team USA, but had not competed in a race.

J.R. HILDEBRAND: "Overall, I feel pretty good about the whole weekend, but we would have liked better results today. I'm just proud of the guys on Team USA and all the work they've done. I think I could have done a better job, but I also know that we showed we had the speed to compete. We probably missed a couple of opportunities this weekend to move up in the field, both in qualifying and in the race. But, again, I think we proved we have the pace to run up front."

***

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS OPEN TEST:

At 9 a.m., the ambient temperature was 57 degrees with a relative humidity of 72 percent and winds from the east at 6 mph. Skies were partly cloudy. The track temperature was 67 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.

9 a.m. - GREEN. #11 Cunningham is the first car on track.

9:06 a.m. - YELLOW. Track inspection.

9:16 a.m. - GREEN.

10:30 a.m. - YELLOW. Debris on the backstretch.

10:41 a.m. - GREEN.

10:52 a.m. - #18 Strous penalized five minutes for a pit speed violation.

11:54 a.m. - #49 Mason and #20 Beatriz penalized five minutes for pit speed violations.

1:44 p.m. - CHECKERED.

FASTEST TIMES/SPEEDS OF SESSION:

Pos.

Car

Name

Time

Speed

1.

27

Sebastian Saavedra

47.0520

191.278

2.

11

Wade Cunningham

47.1281

190.969

3.

15

Martin Plowman

47.1473

190.891

4.

26

J.R. Hildebrand

47.1674

190.810

5.

2

Andrew Prendeville

47.1923

190.709

***

A pair of Indiana natives teamed up for Davey Hamilton/Kingdom Racing for the test. Logan Gomez, a native of Crown Point, Ind., helped the team set up the car for Lafayette, Ind., driver Brandon Wagner, who turned his first laps around the Speedway.

LOGAN GOMEZ: "I'm doing it as a favor to the team because they let me have some free testing for them in the preseason. I'm still trying to put together a deal for the race. It's my home race and I'd hate to miss it."

BRANDON WAGNER: "It's different (than any place I've been). The straightaways are really long, but I know I have a good car and it's capable of being a second faster."

***

Six drivers must complete Rookie Orientation. They are: #2 Raphael Matos (Luczo Dragon Racing), #24 Mike Conway (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing), #34 Alex Tagliani (Conquest Racing), #98 Stanton Barrett (CURB/Agajanian/Team 3G), #00 Nelson Philippe (HVM Racing) and #06 Robert Doornbos (Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing).

The rookie drivers must complete four phases of ROP in order to be eligible for the Indianapolis 500. At least three of the phases must be completed during ROP. The fourth phase may be completed during practice later in the month.

The four phases of ROP include 10 laps at each of the following speeds:

200-205 mph

205-210 mph

210-215 mph

215+ mph

***
 

In addition, the following drivers may participate in a refresher test: #15 Paul Tracy (KV Racing Technology), #16 Scott Sharp (Panther Racing), #41 A.J. Foyt IV (A.J. Foyt Enterprises), #43 John Andretti (Richard Petty Motorsports/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing), #44 Davey Hamilton (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Kingdom Racing) and #99 Alex Lloyd (Chip Ganassi Racing Sam Schmidt Motorsports).

***

Conquest Racing unveiled the paint scheme on the No. 34 entry that will be driven by Alex Tagliani. The car features associate sponsorship from The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, which is promoting the King Tut exhibition "Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs" as the focal point of the partnership.
The car features King Tut exhibition branding on the engine cover, nose cone and front wings. Additionally, a 25-foot statue of the ancient Egyptian god Anubis will be on display in the outside lot at the Speedway Museum during race week, paving the way for the blockbuster exhibition coming to Indianapolis in June.
"Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs" will complete its U.S. debut run in Atlanta in mid-May and will be on display at the Indianapolis Children's Museum from June 27-Oct. 25. The exhibition is organized by National Geographic, Arts and Exhibitions International and AEG Exhibitions, with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The partnership with Conquest includes a show car that will travel to Indiana schools to promote the exhibition and educate the children on this historic collection of 130 artifacts from King Tut's tomb and other ancient Egyptian sites.

ERIC BACHELART (Owner, Conquest Racing): "The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a must-see for everyone, be it residents of Indiana or visitors to the area, much like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and we couldn't be happier to be associated with them and the King Tut exhibition for the Indianapolis 500. We're excited and honored to be promoting such an extraordinary exhibit."

***

INDIANAPOLI S MOTOR SPEEDWAY CENTENNIAL ERA FACT OF THE DAY: The first Hall of Fame Museum was built on the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1956. Originally large enough to display only a few cars, a new museum opened in the present location in 1976. The facility encompasses 96,000 square feet of museum, retail and office space. Approximately 75 vehicles are on display at any one time. Admission is just $3 for adults, $1 for ages 6-15 and free for children younger than 6.

***

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Mike Conway completed the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on May 2 in 1 hour, 29 minutes, 49 seconds (finishing 565th overall). Penske Racing's Will Power was 643rd overall. More than 35,000 registered runners participated in the 13.1-mile race. It was the first time either had run a half-marathon distance.

***

Ryan Hunter-Reay last week opened his Dana Point, Calif., house to "Last Call with Carson Daly," with the segment airing before the Indianapolis 500. Check local listings.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 21 Vision Racing): "I basically ran down how we're down-to-earth people. I race cars for a living, and you expect a race car driver to live this extravagant lifestyle with a mansion and the Ferraris in the garage. It's a pretty cool piece."

***

ROOKIE ORIENTATION PROGRAM:

At 2 p.m., the ambient temperature was 71 degrees with a relative humidity of 51 percent and winds from the northeast at 3 mph. Skies were partly cloudy. The track temperature was 105 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.

2 p.m. - GREEN.

2:04 p.m. - #06 Doornbos is the first car on track.

2:08 p.m. - #15 Tracy on track for the first time since the 2002 Indianapolis 500.

2:18 p.m. - #06 Doornbos has completed Phases 1 and 2.

2:23 p.m. - #06 Doornbos has completed Phase 3.

***

Robert Doornbos, driver of the #06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone, took the honor of being the first driver on track for the 2009 Indianapolis 500, an honor that sometimes has been hard-fought over the years. The best start by the driver first on track over the last 25 years has been by Raul Boesel, who started second in 1994. The best finish is second, set by Marco Andretti in 2006.

 

FIRST ON TRACK, 1984 -2008

Year

Driver

Started

Finished

2008

Will Power

23rd

13th

2007

Jaques Lazier

28th

27th

2006

Marco Andretti

9th

2nd

2005

Danica Patrick

4th

4th

2004

Sarah Fisher

19th

24th

2003

Felipe Giaffone

16th

33rd

2002

Billy Boat

23rd

18th

2001

Stephan Gregoire

29th

28th

2000

Stephan Gregoire

20th

7th

1999

Stephan Gregoire

Did Not Qualify

 

1998

Mike Groff

32nd

15th

1997

Dr. Jack Miller

17th

20th

1996

Michele Alboreto

12th

30th

1995

Eliseo Salazar

24th

4th

1994

Raul Boesel

2nd

21st

1993

Jimmy Vasser

19th

13th

1992

Scott Brayton

7th

22nd

1991

Scott Brayton

19th

17th

1990

Tero Palmroth

16th

12th

1989

Arie Luyendyk

15th

21st

1988

Raul Boesel

7th

20th

1987

Ludwig Heimrath Jr.

10th

30th

1986

Chip Ganassi

26th

25th

1985

Dick Simon

26th

14th

1984

Dick Simon

20th

23rd

***
 

Firestone has brought 4,900 tires to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Month of May. Full-month participants receive 35 sets of tires per car. Second-week entrants receive 24 sets. Rookies receive an additional four sets for ROP, and cars participating in the refresher test receive two additional sets.

Firestone is bringing a new tire specification following a successful tire test at Indianapolis in September 2008. The new spec features improved compounds for all four positions and a slight change to the right-front tire body construction to aid in reducing understeer.

One tire stagger of approximately 0.32 of an inch is available for Indianapolis. Stagger helps IndyCar Series cars turn more smoothly on oval tracks and is created by producing the right-rear tire with a slightly larger diameter than the left rear.
AL SPEYER (Executive Director, Firestone Racing):
"The racing world will focus on this palace of motorsports for the next three weeks, and with good reason. From rookie orientation through four grueling days of qualifying, to Carburetion Day practice and the great race itself, the Indianapolis 500 is like no other. The traditions, the emotions and the unexpected combine to make Indy the transcending event it has become - and Firestone is proud to play a part. We'll be honored come May 24 to crown the 60th Indianapolis 500 champion on Firestone tires, which is more than all other tire manufacturers put together. To reach that life-changing moment, all the Indy drivers this month will compete on a new Firehawk tire specification. The Firestone Racing engineers and chemists have fine-tuned the tire spec that performed so well and without issue the past two years on this demanding racetrack. We anticipate the newest generation Firehawks will continue that trusted tradition by giving all Indy drivers the reliable durability, consistency and top speeds they have come to expect from their Firestone tires."

***

2:27 p.m. - #24 Conway has completed Phase 1.

2:41 p.m. - #2 Matos has completed Phase 3.

2:49 p.m. - #06 Doornbos has completed ROP.

3:04 p.m. - #2 Matos has completed ROP.

3:05 p.m. - #34 Tagliani has completed Phases 1, 2 and 3.     

***

Nelson Philippe will be driving the No. 00 i drive green HVM Racing-prepared car for the Month of May. Philippe said his brother, Richard, won "a lot of races" with the number, "so hopefully it will be a good number for me, too."

That would be a first; no car No. 00 has won the 500 Mile Race or started from the pole. There are now three cars in 2009 starting with 0 - 02 of Graham Rahal and 06 of Robert Doornbos, both driving for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.

NELSON PHILIPPE: "We're raising awareness of the need to reduce our carbon footprint, and 00 stands for zero emissions. I didn't want to be tied to any number, so now I have no numbers."

***

The IPL 500 Festival Parade, scheduled for noon May 23 in downtown Indianapolis, will once again feature a diverse lineup of celebrities. Katie Stam, Mario Lopez, Melora Hardin, Mary Lynn Rajskub, The Ohio Players and artists Donald Lipski and Thomas Kinkade are the first celebrities and VIP's to be scheduled to join in this year's celebration. The celebrities will join Dick Vitale, the 2009 IPL 500 Festival Parade Grand Marshal.

Stam was crowned Miss America in January. Originally from Seymour, Ind., Stam is a senior communication major at the University of Indianapolis. Stam is Indiana's first Miss America in the pageant's 87-year history.

Lopez has appeared in numerous television series, films and on Broadway. He is the host of the daily television show "Extra," which is the second-longest running entertainment magazine on television.     Hardin is best known for her role as Jan Levinson on the NBC television comedy, "The Office."         Rajskub plays computer genius Chloe O'Brian in FOX's drama "24," and helped the show win a 2006 Emmy for Best Drama.

Legendary funk band The Ohio Players will headline the 2009 Regions 500 Festival Snakepit Ball, presented by Cindy & Paul Skjodt on May 23. The group combines the genres of funk, rock, jazz and soul to create a sound call "street funk" - which paved the way for the success of rap and hip-hop.       Lipski is an internationally renowned artist with public art commissions in Grand Central Terminal, New York; the Miami International Airport; libraries in Minneapolis and Denver; and convention centers in Fort Worth, Texas and Washington D.C.

Kinkade has captured the moments of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Centennial Era by creating the impressionist work that will be displayed on the cover of the Centennial Era Gala Program Commemorative Book and will be the basis of the Studio Masterworks celebrating the 100th Anniversary.           More than 300,000 spectators are expected to line the two-mile parade route. The IPL 500 Festival Parade will be televised nationally on Versus from 5-6:30 p.m. EDT.

***

Graham Rahal unveiled the unique helmet that he will be wearing throughout the Month of May and in the Indianapolis 500. The special one-off edition helmet is designed to pay tribute to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the celebration of its Centennial Era as well as the 1986 Indianapolis 500 victory by Graham's father, Bobby. The helmet incorporates the Speedway's Centennial Era logo and an image of Bobby Rahal with the coveted Borg Warner trophy.

The colors chosen and mixed for this helmet give the helmet a vintage look with a modern twist by using different tints of gray, silver, beige, white and red. Just like every one of Graham's Artrotondo.com painted helmets, this helmet was painted using environmentally friendly paints that contain no toxic contents. The Centennial logos and the image of Bobby Rahal were entirely free hand drawn and colored by motorsport artist Art Rotondo before being placed on the helmet.
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team): "The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a race car driver's cathedral, and the Indy 500 is the biggest race of the year. I wanted to do something cool to honor the history of the Speedway and my dad's win in 1986. I think we really hit on it with this helmet design."

***

Firestone Indy Lights driver Richard Philippe was working with a new team at Indianapolis. The French rookie drove Team PBIR's No. 37 entry in hopes of gaining seat time in advance of the Firestone Freedom 100.

RICHARD PHILIPPE: "I got some good mileage in a (Firestone Indy) Lights car on a oval. At Kansas, I got about 20 miles between crashes. It's nice to be here at this track. It's so famous, and I'm happy to be able to drive around here."

***

Another rookie on the move, Ali Jackson, who moved from Guthrie Meyer Racing to RLR Andersen Racing following the Kansas race, missed most of the Open Test as his team worked on preparing the No. 6 car for the test. The car, which was acquired from HVM Racing, still carried the charcoal-and-green livery of its previous owner. Jackson recorded 26 laps.

***

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS QUOTES:

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 27 AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing, fastest): "We are working hard on our race setup. I think we were able to pick up the pace very early, and throughout the day we made small changes on last year's setup. From there we worked as a team, and we did an awesome job. I can't wait to come back for the race."

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports, second): "It's nice being back.  It's good validation to be in a good car, then put up a good result. I had a great car that enabled me to go quick straight away. It was a bit difficult for everyone with tire wear in this first test because there was no rubber down. Obviously, we still have a little bit of work to do because the AGR car is still a little bit quicker, but we've got a couple of weeks before the race where we can sit down and analyze where we can come up with a stronger package and come out race weekend and contend for the win."

MARTIN PLOWMAN (No. 15 Panther Racing, third): "It always nice to see your name at the top of the time sheets, but this is only an Open Test. It's important to come away with a good feeling for the car and the track. I think we achieved that today. I learned a lot. There's still some work for me as I learn the line, but the car is fast. We did some qualifying simulations at the end of the day, and we were very happy. I'm confident that the 15 car will be competitive."

J.R. HILDEBRAND (No. 26 Andretti Green Racing/AFS Racing, fourth): "We were really quick early in the day. We had some trouble with our setup pad, so we didn't run much in the afternoon, but I think we were one of the first or second quickest cars running on our own, so that sets us up for qualifying. We never ran low fuel or put in much tow time. I'm just looking forward to the race. I had a great race weekend last year, and it's such a cool opportunity to race at the Speedway. Any track time you can get is fun."

ANDREW PRENDEVILLE (No. 2 Team Moore Racing, fifth): "It's a beautiful day, which we didn't get last year. The track is in good condition, so everyone has gone quick. I'm very happy. Our car is good. It's good in traffic. We've had quick cars everywhere we've been. We've just had issues that set us back. We just need a trouble-free weekend. I'm sure we'll be there on Race Day."

***

In addition to unveiling the new King Tut livery of its No. 34 Dallara, Conquest Racing announced the return of Northlands and its premier event, the Rexall Edmonton Indy, as title sponsor for the 2009 Indianapolis 500. The team also revealed the signing of AmazingMail and LifeLock for the 2009 Indianapolis 500.
The Rexall Edmonton Indy takes place July 24-26 at City Centre Airport in Edmonton.
ERIC BACHELART (Owner, Conquest Racing): "We're very excited to be announcing new and returning sponsors to the team. We couldn't be happier to continue our partnership with Northlands and the Rexall Edmonton Indy, and we're thrilled to be welcoming new partners AmazingMail and LifeLock. We're thankful for everyone's support this month, and we look forward to making them proud over the next few weeks."

***

3:53 p.m. - YELLOW. Track inspection.

4:02 p.m. - GREEN.

4:16 p.m. - #24 Conway has completed Phase 3.

4:31 p.m. - #34 Tagliani has completed ROP.

4:44 p.m. - #24 Conway has completed ROP.

4:52 p.m. - #00 Philippe has completed Phase 2.

5:06 p.m. - #00 Philippe has completed Phase 3.

5:08 p.m. - #98 Barrett has completed Phase 2.

5:10 p.m. - CHECKERED.

 

FASTEST TIMES/SPEEDS OF SESSION:

Pos.

Car

Name

Time

Speed

1.

15

Paul Tracy

40.3426

223.089

2.

16

Scott Sharp

40.5628

221.878

3.

06

Robert Doornbos

40.5889

221.735

4.

2

Raphael Matos

41.1686

218.613

5.

34

Alex Tagliani

41.2215

218.333

***

INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

PAUL TRACY (No. 15 GEICO/KV Racing Technology): "We took advantage of today, with the refresher course. There's rain in the forecast the next couple days possibly - the weather can change here at any time, so I'm pretty happy with where we're at right now." (About fan reaction): "They either love me or hate me. I have a polarizing effect on people. But there was a lot of fan support today, a lot of well-wishes, a couple birds, but in general it was 98 percent to the good, so I was happy about that." (About motivation to come back): "I just want to race. It's all I've ever done. I've been racing since I was 6 years old, and I didn't want my career to just come to an abrupt stop after racing Indy cars for 16 or 17 years. When the merge happened, my team owner decided to stop, and when the music stopped, it kind of left me without any seats to sit in. It's been very frustrating thinking after all this time my career's just going to end like that. That's not the way I wanted it to end. I realize I'm not going to race another 10 years, but I'd like to run a couple more years. I feel I'm competitive. I feel I've got the drive. And hopefully something will open up. I know I'm not going to run forever, but I want to have a couple more years and have a shot at it and have something for my fans to remember."

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 US Air Force Luczo Dragon Racing): "Today was a great day. The car was very consistent. The team made many aerodynamic changes to the car, which gave us an idea of how the car would run in different situations. The Luczo Dragon team worked very hard, and I was able to build up my confidence a lot. This is very important to set the tone for the rest of the month. I am very positive about going into the second day of practice tomorrow."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 16 Tequila Patron Panther Racing): "It feels great. There was obviously a lot of anticipation and a lot of excitement surrounding the whole opportunity with Patron and Panther Racing. To get out here and finally start doing it today, it was great. It feels so good to be back. By lap one, it felt like I was back in the old shoe again. It really felt good."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "The first run was a bit daunting. It's a big place here and a lot of high speed. Once I did the first run, I came back to the garages and sat down and thought about it. I felt a lot more comfortable and relaxed in the second run, which is the way that you have to be in these cars, just relaxed and feel what's going on. Overall, I'm really happy with the runs we had today. We learned a lot with the car and made some good setup changes, so I think we are looking great for tomorrow."

ROBERT DOORNBOS (No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing): "I seem to learn fast on the ovals and the team is doing a good job, so I don't see a reason why we shouldn't be in the top 11 (on Pole Day)." (About IMS): "I think this place is great. I sleep at the track, I eat at the track, I drive at the track, do everything at the track. It's going to be an intense month. It's different that when I was here in Formula One in 2005 and 2006. You just fly in for the weekend and fly out. Just from this morning I began to feel some of the history of the track, and the speed down the straight - I just love it. It wasn't intimidating at all as long as you respect the track. If you get to thinking you can be the fastest on the first day, you'll find yourself in the wall. You respect the place, and you build up to it. We got some good speed today. There isn't a big oval feeling to the track. It's more like two long straightaways and four fast corners which are very much alike."

***

WEDNESDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):

7 a.m.

Garages open

9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Rookie Orientation Program

2-6 p.m.

IndyCar Series practice

***END DAY 1***


Related Stories



Indianapolis 500 Talkback Post Comment