Daily Trackside Report: Indianapolis 500 Day 4

DAY 4 - FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2009

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):

8 a.m.

Garages open

Noon-6 p.m.

IndyCar Series practice

***

INDYCAR SERIES PRACTICE:

At noon, the ambient temperature was 67 degrees with a relative humidity of 78 percent and winds from the southwestat 6 mph. Skies were overcast. The track temperature was 79 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.

Noon - GREEN.

12:21 p.m. - YELLOW. #41 Foyt IV has heavy white wall in Turn 2.

12:22 p.m. - GREEN.

12:28 p.m. - Reports of light moisture in Turn 2.

12:29 p.m. - YELLOW. #06 Doornbos makes heavy contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 with the right side of the car. The car continues down the backstretch, coming to a rest near the entrance of Turn 3. There is moderate damage to the right side of the car. Doornbos climbs from the car without assistance from the Delphi Safety Team.

12:43 p.m. - GREEN.

***

Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, medical director for the Indy Racing League: #06 Doornbos was checked and released at the Clarian Emergency Medical Center. He is cleared to drive.

ROBERT DOORNBOS (No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing): "Going into Turn 1, I felt something really light on the front of the car, and then I brushed the wall. Then I went into the Turn 2 wall. Hopefully, it was just driver error and nothing went wrong on the car and we are able to fix it and come back strong tomorrow."

***

More than 300 Speedway (Ind.) High School students, accompanied by 20 teacher/chaperones, took a field trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a reward for respect, punctuality, responsibility and maintaining good grades during the school year.

Fortunately, it wasn't an arduous journey - just a few blocks.

The group walked from the high school and through a few neighborhoods that constitute the Town of Speedway Historic District. After a sack lunch at a Main Street restaurant, the group headed to the Speedway to watch part of Fast Friday practice.

***

INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY CENTENNIAL ERA FACT OF THE DAY: The Borg-Warner Trophy, one of the most recognizable trophies in all of sports, has been awarded to the winner of every Indianapolis 500 Mile Race since 1936. Crafted out of sterling silver by Spaulding-Gorham of Chicago, it was unveiled at a dinner in New York in February 1936, featuring bas-relief sculptures of every "500" winner up until that time. The new winner has been added every year since, and in 1986 (the trophy's 50th anniversary), the final space became filled. The solution for 1987 was to add a base, but this too became filled, and in 2004, an even larger version replaced it, this one with enough spaces to last through 2034. The only sculptured face not of a winning driver is that of the late Speedway owner Tony Hulman, whose likeness, in gold, was placed on the base in 1987.

***

Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing team members at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will track the voyage of seven astronauts aboard space shuttle Atlantis beginning May 11 and vice versa.

The 11-day mission incorporates five spacewalks to service NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Liftoff is scheduled for 2:01 p.m. (EDT).

The tie-in began two years ago when three STS-125 astronauts - mission commander Scott Altman and mission specialists/spacewalkers Andrew Feustel and Mike Massimino - provided a behind-the-scenes tour of the Johnson Space Center in Houston for NHLR team members. The team hosted the astronauts and their families at the Champ Car race that weekend. NHLR senior engineer Craig Hampson has remained in contact with the crew.

The tour included mission control, the neutral buoyancy facility and the flight simulator.

"We all proved miserable at landing the shuttle with the exception of our chief mechanic, who brought his young son of the video game generation," Hampson said. "He put it right down on the runway no problem."

In practice this week, the Nos. 02 and 06 cars of Graham Rahal and Robert Doornbos are carrying the mission logo at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Wrote Altman in a recent e-mail to Hampson: "Hopefully, we'll be back in time to watch the race and root for your team."

"It's great that they're finally able to go up and that it corresponds with our big month of May," Hampson said. "As a team, we're following it really closely and excited for them. If they had gone up earlier, there was a hope they would be able to come to the race. Hopefully, we'll see them sometime during the year at a race."

Astronauts will install two new instruments, repair two inactive ones and perform the component replacements that will keep the telescope functioning into at least 2014.

"The mission is really complicated," Hampson said, "plus trying to do it with a space suit on and gloves on and in space where every action has an equal and opposite reaction. They had to come up with a lot of unique tools and processes to fix things that were never expected to have to be fixed in space. It's going to be a real challenge."

***

2:30 p.m. - YELLOW. #16 Sharp does a quarter-spin to the left exiting Turn 1 then does 1 ½ spins to the right, making heavy contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 with the right side of the car. There is heavy damage to the right side of the car. Sharp climbs from the car without assistance from the Delphi Safety Team.

2:42 p.m. - GREEN.

2:54 p.m. - YELLOW. Track inspection.

3:02 p.m. - GREEN.

3:30 p.m. - YELLOW. Reports of light moisture around the racetrack.

3:38 p.m. - GREEN.

***

Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, medical director for the Indy Racing League: #16 Sharp has been checked and released at the Clarian Emergency Medical Center. He is cleared to drive.

SCOTT SHARP (No. 16 Tequila Patron Panther Racing): (About the accident): "We were on a sticker run. It was the second lap, pretty easy. I rolled down in there, and it just snapped on me. I'm not exactly sure what's up." (About how this affects Pole Day): "I have to go back and figure all of that out with the Panther team. We've been struggling a little bit to gain more speed and didn't really need this to happen right now. We'll see what the plan is and find a way to rebound."

***

Entry list update: The car name for the #99 entry driven by Alex Lloyd has been changed to HER CGR/SSM Racing.

***
Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon will sport new helmet designs this weekend in support of Target House's 10th anniversary. 
Funded by Target and its vendor and celebrity partners, Target House is a unique long-term housing facility, a home away from home, for families with children receiving lifesaving treatment at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. As an extension of St. Jude's promise that no child is ever denied treatment because of a family's inability to pay, Target House provides fully furnished apartments, free of charge. St. Jude is one of the world's premier pediatric cancer research centers and has developed protocols that have helped push overall survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20 percent when the hospital opened in 1962 to more than 70 percent.
Each driver had the opportunity to select a helmet designed by St. Jude patients who reside at Target House. The drivers will showcase their choices this weekend.
Since 1997, Target Chip Ganassi Racing has raised more than $750,000 for St. Jude  and Target House and continues its efforts by donating $5,000 per victory, $1,000 per pole position and $25 for each lap led.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: "I'm excited to be wearing the Target House helmet designed for Pole Day in Indianapolis. It's been a long time certainly, over 10 years, since I haven't worn my traditional colors while driving the car, but what a great cause. Target House is something that I'm very proud to be a part of."
SCOTT DIXON: "I wore a Target House helmet in 2005, which was pretty cool. This year as the defending winner of the Indianapolis 500 it will mean a lot to have the special paint scheme representing the St. Jude patients from Target House. I hope we can make their day a little bit more special by putting the No. 9 Target car up front for the biggest race of the season."

***

3:48 p.m. - Reports of light moisture on the frontstretch.

3:52 p.m. - YELLOW. Reports of rain on the backstretch.

4:23 p.m. - GREEN.

4:26 p.m. - YELLOW. Reports of light moisture on pit lane.

***

Sarah Fisher Racing is benefitting from two students from the Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Casey O'Gara and Caitlin Elizabeth are interns this month and are helping the team at the Speedway to prepare the No. 67 Dollar General entry driven by Fisher.

"We're keeping our eyes open and learning as much as we can from team engineers," O'Gara said. "We're helping them keep everything 'clean' on the cars."

While he talked, O'Gara was working on two different nose pods on the No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing entry.

O'Gara is a nephew of Sarah Fisher Racing team manager Johnny O' Gara.

***

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves received another rousing welcome from the Alley Cats, an enthusiastic band of fans who are located just outside the entrance to Gasoline Alley.

"They're incredible," Castroneves said. "They help keep me strong - they give me chills. Hopefully on Pole Day, I'll give them something to celebrate."

One of the Alley Cats, Shane Wilson of Crawfordsville, Ind., is at the Speedway for the 25th year. He had praise for Castroneves, who occasionally has climbed a short fence to join the group for one-on-one photo opps.

"He (Castroneves) is a jubilant guy and just makes you happy to be around him," Wilson said. "He celebrated with us after his first win - we're always glad to see him."

***

International karting competitor Michele Bumgarner of The Philippines was in Gasoline Alley with high hopes of landing a ride in the Firestone Indy Lights race, the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 22 at the Speedway. Bumgarner is making her second visit to the Speedway. She was here as a spectator in 2007.

Bumgarner, 19, is a nine-year veteran of karting. She has raced throughout Asia, Italy and France in the Open Masters class. She was born in Manila and moved to nearby Avon, Ind., in October 2008.

MICHELLE BUMGARNER: "The whole Danica Patrick thing is opening up doors. She gives me hope that someday I will race here."

***

Five-time Indianapolis 500 starter Bruno Junqueira is in the garage area meeting with teams in hopes of landing a ride for the race. Junqueira won the pole for the race in 2002 and recorded fifth-place finishes in 2001 and 2004. Last year, he finished 20th.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: "This year is a little bit different. I should be in a car trying to get the pole like I did in previous years, but this year I'm trying to get a car to race. I'm talking to pretty much every single team in the paddock. I hope I can get something for the second week. My experience here; I think I can win starting from the back." (About feedback he's getting from the teams): "People want to get their drivers qualified in the first week then they're going to think about doing a second car." (How many teams have you received positive signs from that may be thinking about a second-week program?): "Maybe three teams. Let's wait and see."

***

DePauw University head football coach Matt Walker served as the honorary starter today. He took a Pace Car ride around the oval with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford before waving the green flag to open practice.

MATT WALKER: "It was unbelievable. It's hard to put into words because of the appreciation I have for the history and tradition of this place, and it's hard to put into words what it was like to get to meet Johnny Rutherford, go around the track with him, and get to see the cars right there that close. It's something I'll never forget." (You're part of a great tradition with the Monon Bell football game, so you get to be part of a couple of great sporting events each year.): "It's something I'm really into, and I feel I get to be part of the two greatest traditions in sports. I'm a little biased with the one I'm involved with in football, but very unique. Such a long history and such a deep passion for the people involved in it. To get to be a part of the Monon Bell and the Indianapolis 500, it's a dream come true for me."

***

Roger McCluskey Jr., son of 18-time Indianapolis 500 starter Roger McCluskey, is working this month with KV Racing Technology.

ROGER McCLUSKEY JR.: I started spotting a year ago for Oriol Servia and KV Racing. Oriol moved on, but I stayed with KV and I'm working with Mario Moraes." (What translates from your background in midget racing and Indy-car racing): "More than you think, actually. A line is a line, no matter what racetrack you are at and whether you turn right or left. This place has Mario a little bound up right now, but we will be OK." (About his memories of IMS): "I have a picture of me when I was 4, and there are a group of guys sitting around and I'm pushing a little race car, and I remember that. That's 41 years ago. This is my playground. It used to be me and Billy Vukovich and Little Al (Unser Jr.), and in the summer we romped around this place. I helped team manager David Brzozowski, get him involved in Indy car racing when he got his first job in 1986. He also helped me get my midget program together. In fact, he taught me how to start a race car because I didn't have a clue. So now I go to all the races except the road courses, but I also do all the graphics for the car, the transporter and the pit equipment. I'm really busy, but I'm loving it."

***
Andy Vertrees, former general manager at Kentucky Speedway and Iowa Speedway, visited the track today.

ANDY VERTREES: "I'm helping start Blue Grass Motorsports Park, a road course just 5 miles up the road from Kentucky Speedway. We're going to run full-blown races - you never know who you hear will be there. I owned Kentucky Motor Speedway. I bought it in 1979 and here were all these kids Mike Waltrip, Jeremy Mayfield, even Jeremy's mom raced there, the Greed boys, just a big melting pot, and nobody told these guys they couldn't go anywhere, and they all made it big and I'm proud of them. Then I built Louisville Speedway, and then went to Kentucky Speedway and was there for 8 1/2 years, and went to Iowa Speedway, help built Lake Erie and even helped re-do the dirt track in Lawrenceburg (Ind.). We are here for the fumes and really enjoy it. I have some great pictures of Iowa Speedway, the first (IndyCar Series) race when the fog was coming off the wings. It was cool. It is going to prove to be a great track for the Indy cars. I just love it here, and I remember once (Indy Racing League executive) John Lewis took me to the front straightaway and we got to go in the moat and watch the cars go by, and it was a great thrill."

***

Howdy Holmes, who made six Indianapolis 500 starts between 1979-88, visited the track today.

HOWDY HOLMES: "It is great to be back. It is a pleasure to be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I always try to come back for Fast Friday, some on Saturday and then I come back for the race and bring some customers or employees and sit in Turn 1. But that is a bit of being a host. This is for me, and I enjoy talking with people I haven't seen in a while." (Do you still get the urge?): "Urge to go to the bathroom, urge to drive? At my age, there are lots of urges, but you really can't do much about them. No. I started thinking about leaving in 1983, but I didn't leave until 1988. I put together a business plan to leave because really, how can you leave something like this? You are doing something you love. So I had to make absolutely certain that my head and heart were separate from one another, and I am glad that I did because there is no unfinished business and the cars change, and my day has come and gone. But I still enjoy the tradition that is all around here, and the tradition, it is just wonderful."

***

1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti spent a few minutes today talking about the IMS Centennial Era and his affection for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

MARIO ANDRETTI: (About the Centennial Era of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): "Well, it's a wonderful celebration for all of us who have been touched by this great place. Obviously, it's a reason to look back and see why this place is so important because of that rich tradition. One hundred years; it's been around since pretty much the beginning of our sport. We're just blessed to be here." (About his feelings each time he walks into the Speedway): "It's got that special feeling. You can see that fans and drivers alike share a lot of that. That's why we love being here, and we always look forward to an exciting May, and this is shaping up to be another one." (Besides your 1969 Indy 500 victory, what are your favorite memories of the Speedway?): "My memories of just leading this race, and I had plenty of opportunities. I only show one win, but I'm one of the top two all-time lap leaders, so I've had a good time here. I've been close to winning it and dominating this thing many times, so my memories are all positive. The fact that I know I did my job and some of the failures were beyond my control; that's what gives you peace, I suppose. Even with just one victory in so many tries, I've still had a lot of positive moments here."

***

4:48 p.m. - GREEN.

***

Four-time Indianapolis 500 starter Jeff Simmons was in Gasoline Alley today, checking on prospects for a ride in the 2009 Indianapolis 500. Simmons started the race in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008.

JEFF SIMMONS: "Yeah, I'm looking for a ride. It's a tough year. There are quite a few guys and good drivers that are doing the same thing I'm doing. Hopefully something will come along. It's hard to say. I've had things come along at the very last minute or almost the last day. I'm trying to enjoy the day and watch the guys run. Hopefully I'll put something together to continue my streak of 500s. I've got a few leads, but I would say they're kind of long shots at this point. Anything is better than nothing right now. I would love to be in a car. If it doesn't work out this year, then I'll just get a head start on next year."

***

Bill Simpson has a long history in racing, developing safety products for drivers, from helmets and racing suits to gloves and shoes. His contributions to the sport are numerous and his company, Impact Racing, has a storefront in Gasoline Alley, located in the garage area. Impact Racing meets the needs of many drivers and team crew members during the month, as well as the interests of the casual fan. 

BILL SIMPSON: "Well, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to me, is the queen mother of motorsports. There is not a more revered facility, in my opinion, in the whole world. When you come here, it's a pretty big thrill. It's pretty flattering (to have drivers wearing our products). We do make a good product, and it's all made in America; actually, in Speedway, Ind."

***

5:39 p.m. - Tony Kanaan is turning laps in the No. 26 car normally driven by teammate Marco Andretti.

6 p.m. - CHECKERED.

FASTEST TIMES/SPEEDS OF SESSION:

Pos.

Car

Name

Time

Speed

1.

6

Ryan Briscoe

39.8263

225.981

2.

3

Helio Castroneves

39.9223

225.438

3.

10

Dario Franchitti

40.0029

224.984

4.

9

Scott Dixon

40.0317

224.822

5.

7

Danica Patrick

40.0436

224.755

***

Ryan Briscoe collected $10,000 from F.E. Harding Asphalt Companies for recording the fastest lap on Fast Friday.

***

INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, third): "I think today was overall a pretty solid day. We worked on the mechanical side of the car this morning and dialed that in, so we have a good direction of where we needed to be aero-wise. We tried a couple things, and at the end of the day the Target car was in a place we liked. On to qualifying tomorrow."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fourth): "Yeah, I think tomorrow will be a whole other unique set of conditions for us, really. The weather here in Indianapolis has been quite unpredictable, but we think we have a strong shot at the pole for tomorrow. The Penske cars have been pretty fast, as well, though. Dario has been strong, as well, so we're optimistic about getting solidly into the race."

 DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, eighth): "We worked hard on the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car. It was one of those days where you perhaps didn't accomplish as much as you had liked because of the intermittent interruptions with rain. I think at this point you've got what you've got. It depends on what you're looking for tomorrow. Obviously, I would like to be pretty aggressive. At the same token, you have to remember the race is the thing that counts. Certainly, the Team Penske cars look incredibly strong. But I feel we're definitely a contender. We just have to get everything absolutely right. We'll see the development stuff that we have in store for tonight and how that performs tomorrow. It's great to be at the Speedway, and I'm certainly enjoying it. It would nice to be on the front row. I'd love the pole. I've never been on the pole here. I've sat on the front row a lot. By the same token, I think if you're on the pole or on the front row people remember you for a couple of weeks. I'd much rather win the race."

ALEX LLOYD (No. 99 HER CGR/SSM Racing, 10th): "We planned on doing short runs today, because we're trying to prepare for qualifying. We did a lot of small runs and kept trimming out the downforce, getting the car ready for qualifying, and we improved the car a lot balance-wise overnight. I think we're in the window where we're pretty happy. We're pleased with the speed of the car, and I think we can go a little bit quicker if we take off a little more downforce. Obviously, the aim is to try and get qualified tomorrow, and I think we've got a car that's capable of doing that. I'm happy with the balance now, but the wind could pick up tomorrow and change everything in terms of setup. Going into tomorrow though, I'm pretty happy and confident."

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 US Air Force Luczo Dragon Racing): "Today was a very productive day for us. We made a lot of changes to the car, and most were very positive. We found a pretty good sweet spot for our qualifying downforce levels. We tried to run by ourselves as much as possible so that we could get the best simulation for qualifying tomorrow. Now we have a pretty good idea of where we need to be with the setup of the car. We are much closer now to getting a shot at the top 11."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team): "I think the McDonald's team got quite a bit done today. The car felt pretty good there at the end. We kept working on it at the end, and it got a little bit better, but we still need to improve it. I think we still need to trim it out a little bit more to get up there with the big guys. Something is amiss to me compared to yesterday, and I'm not exactly sure what it is, but something in the car feels like there is more drag. We need to figure out what that is, improve on it and go forward for tomorrow. It's a good thing we finished the day without any incidents on our side, because we only had one spare car between Robert (Doornbos) and me, and they are putting an engine in it after he crashed. That was definitely going through my head. I need to qualify for the Indy 500 tomorrow, and if something were to happen we might not have been able to."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 41 ABC Supply/Foyt-Greer Racing): "Obviously a little bit silly there on my second or third lap, I brushed the wall coming out of (Turn) 1 on an older set of tires, but luckily enough not too much damage - got back out there and we got the balance good. We're still not real aggressive on our downforce situation. I wish we were a little bit faster with where we are with the rear wing, but I think it's decent. We'll go out tomorrow for practice. If we have the speed to contend for the top 11, we'll give it a shot, but I think if we don't feel it's reasonable, we might as well wait until Sunday instead of taking a chance."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "We worked on similar things as we did yesterday and what the other cars learned, as well. We kind of lost a little bit of speed today, but I think we know where that was, so we have a few more changes we would like to make. Hopefully, we'll be good for tomorrow in qualifying. We just need to free the car up basically in the corners and gain speed down the straight. Just some small changes will add up to a lot around here."

 PAUL TRACY (No. 15 GEICO/KV Racing Technology): "Today was OK for the GEICO KV Racing Technology team. We began trimming the car out, but we're still not completely there. We spent today running laps working on the qualifying setup. I don't think we were as fast as we need to be for qualifying, but we are not totally trimmed out yet. We were just outside the top 12 on our own today without drafting, so I think we can still reach our goal of qualifying on the first day on Pole Day."

MARIO MORAES (No. 5 KV Racing Technology/Votorantim): "Today we worked on the KV Racing Technology-Votorantim car for qualifying. We were able to do some good runs, the car felt stable, and I think we found some speed for qualifying. Tomorrow we will make a few extra changes, and hopefully we will qualify in the top 11."

ROBERT DOORNBOS (No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing): "The guys worked hard to put an engine in the spare car and get back out for a few installation laps at the end. I'm looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow morning and experiencing my first Pole Day for the Indy 500."

JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Window World): "We are going to make some more changes, and we will come out early tomorrow and run. It will be tough tomorrow. One lap is different than four laps. We need to keep the consistency and keep the same speed from the first lap. We will make some more changes to get some more drag and get a better balance, because you will need both to make the top 11."

DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 44 Hewlett Packard): "Today was definitely a learning day for us. We didn't gain the speed that we wanted even though we went a little bit faster. The good thing is we learned what not to do for qualifying. We tried a deal with the gearbox and some gearing that didn't work, and we now know what not to do, so we were changing it back when it started raining. I think we will be OK. It's still a long shot for us to be in the top 11, but we still have a slight chance."

MILKA DUNO (No. 23 CITGO/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "We hoped to go a bit faster today, so I'm a little disappointed. We made a lot of changes in hopes of making the car respond. Tonight we will look over the data and try again for tomorrow."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co. AJ Foyt Racing): "It's been good. We went quite far on taking downforce, drag, out of the car just because it's a very good day to do that - there's no wind, it's cool. You really want to take advantage of that, the consistency. Once the wind starts and it gets gusty, there's not as much consistency as you have today. Today is an important day. Everything has been good today. We have to go a little faster, have to find speed somewhere. We're looking for it, and when we find it, it's going to show on the board. The main thing is that the car is solid. We might not be the fastest car out there, but it's very, very solid. It's really grippy and definitely a good race car."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, fastest): "It's hard to tell on the test days, because there's lot of traffic on the circuit. We just have to wait until qualifying when you are the only car on the track. I'm feeling good, though. I think the car is running very solid. We've done some non-drafting laps, and the car's been fast. Tomorrow is another day, and everyone is going to be going for it. Hopefully, there won't be any surprises and we can stay at the top." (What do you think the pole speed will be?): "I'm not sure. It depends on conditions. Around this track, with just some humidity or wind change you can lose or gain 2 mph. We've gotten in the high 225's. That will be a good target for tomorrow." (About winning the pole): "You get a point this year, which is awesome. It's a big one here at Indianapolis. I was on the front row last year, and I feel like my car is better than last year, so we're definitely going for it."

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 34 Conquest Racing): "The team did a great job today. I'm very happy with the progress we made throughout the day, and we finished with a good lap. We improved the car tremendously on the grip level so we could run a different aero package. The car is really consistent. My engineers Brandon (Fry) and Mike (Colliver) did a great job. It wasn't just a good preparation for qualifying, but a lot of what we did will also serve us for the race."

 HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, second): "It was a great day today. Team Penske is looking really strong, but tomorrow is what counts. It's all about getting those four consistent laps together - the four most important laps in motorsports. Hopefully we'll get a good starting position and we can begin to work on our race car."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola, fifth): "It turned out to be a day we could use again just like yesterday. Thank goodness, because yesterday afternoon we weren't bad, we just weren't perfectly happy with the balance, and we didn't feel like we were getting the most out of the car, so we just kept our cool last night and didn't make big changes. We really just went back to basics and back to what we started with when we were happy. The problem with Indy is that sometimes there's time and you can confuse yourself just by thinking, 'I've got to make changes because we have another run; let's make a change.' But really it's just a matter of staying cool and keeping up with the conditions a little bit. We got a couple good laps in, and I think that we're faster than we were yesterday. Penske is pretty fast, though. Ganassi is always going to pose a problem, but Penske looks quickest right now." (About who she thinks will win the pole): "I would be surprised if one of the Penske's wasn't on the pole. They seem to really be quick right now. But anything can happen around here. You can be one small change or two or three small changes away from having a really great car or a really bad car or at least a car that's not in the ballpark for the front spot. Anything can happen."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, sixth): "I'm pleased with Team Venom Energy's performance today and glad the rain held off. It would have been nice to take home the Fast Friday check, but we got the track time we needed, and I think we have a good set up for qualifying. Tomorrow is going to be stressful, for sure, but I think the No. 26 car will be a pole contender."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream, ninth): "The Formula Dream car had a good day. My goal was to reach 225 mph today. I got to 224 mph, which is close, so that's OK. During the last hour, we tried a new setup but didn't get much speed from the change, so we have a better idea of what to do for tomorrow. The morning practice session tomorrow should be helpful, and the No. 27 car will be ready for qualifying."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven): "It was a long day for Team 7-Eleven. We have a problem with the car, and we are trying to figure out exactly what that is. The entire team put in a lot of effort. I have to thank my crew for all the setup changes and the No. 26 crew for allowing me to take their car out. The day before qualifying that can be a huge risk. It just shows that we stick together as a team and we work together as a team. Hopefully we can figure it out overnight, but if not, then I'll just do my best tomorrow."

E.J. VISO (No. 13 PDVSA HVM Racing): "We made a step forward compared to yesterday, but tomorrow is going to be tough. We need to find some speed. The car is handling well, but we're still not very fast, and that's one of my biggest concerns."

NELSON PHILIPPE (No. 00 i drive green HVM Racing): "It was great to be back on track again today. Unfortunately, it was a pretty short day for us. We had a few issues, so we had to come back to the garage, so we lost a lot of track time, and then the rain came out, which was a bit of a bummer. I need all the time I can get on the track. But hopefully I will get some more tomorrow."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Menards/Vision Racing): "A little nervous about what it's going to take to make the top 11. It was kind of a strange day today with people running early, because they thought it would rain and a lot of drafting going on. I don't really have a good sense of what speed it's going to take to make the field tomorrow. I'm questioning if we have enough speed right now to make it in the top 11 but still optimistic that we'll find a way in. We got a little more speed out of the car today than what we had yesterday, and we ran most of the day, which was good. Expectations for qualifying are to try to get the car qualified. I'm sure speeds will be up for everyone, but I am anxious to see what it will take."

 RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 21 Vision Racing): "We went about our planned test list and made the car a little bit better, and we are now at a team-matched setup. Everything seems to be headed in the right direction, and the car is handling well. We're just struggling with overall speed and not sure why. It's easier to look forward to qualifying when you have a really fast car, so I'm not certain what my expectations are. My realistic goal is to qualify in the teens. While I know that the race is a different story, speed is always something you want, and a good qualifying position doesn't hurt, but we are 70 percent concentrated on the race right now."

***

Seven-time Indianapolis 500 starter Tomas Scheckter was in Gasoline Alley today. Scheckter never qualified lower than 12th in his seven starts (2002-08) and finished as high as fourth in 2003.

TOMAS SCHECKTER: "Indianapolis is home for my heart, and just coming here in the Month of May and not being in a car and watching the cars go around; it's been extremely tough. But I've had some good runs here, and I'm definitely pushing hard to get back in a car. We're just looking at everything at the moment and just seeing what's out there." (About what he's hearing from prospective teams): "To be honest, we were very close to getting something done for the whole year; it was 95 percent done. But we've just been put in a situation where we're looking at a second-week program. There's a couple options. We almost had something done, and it didn't happen. I'm holding my thumbs and looking for something." (About unfinished business in the Indy 500): "We've led a lot of laps here; been Chase Rookie of the Year. I think I've led the second or third most laps of all the drivers that are here now, so I love the place. I had a good showing here last year - ran top three the whole race. I just definitely want to get back and put a car in Victory Lane."

***

A total of 39 cars are currently at the Speedway and 31 have passed technical inspection. Thirty-one drivers have been on the track to date and turned 1,301 laps today and 3,902 laps this month. Raphael Matos turned 73 laps today and has turned 285 laps this month, most of any driver. There were seven cautions today for a total of 1 hour, 34 minutes.

***

SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):

6 a.m.

Garages open

9-10 a.m.

IndyCar Series practice (two groups)

10-11 a.m.

IndyCar Series practice

Noon-6 p.m.

PEAK Performance Pole Qualifying presented by AutoZone

***END DAY 4***



 



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