Racing news from the Indiana motorsports scene

Day By Day: 2013 Indianapolis 500

Sage Karam qualified for the Firestone Indy Lights Series pole with an average speed of 189.243 mph. [Russ Lake Photo]

Sage Karam qualified for the Firestone Indy Lights Series pole with an average speed of 189.243 mph. [Russ Lake Photo]

The three cars that will start on the front row of next Sunday's Indy 500 posed in their qualifying positions Sunday morning at the Speedway. Ed Carpenter (right), is on the pole, rookie driver Carlos Munoz qualified second and Marco Andretti was third fastest and will start on the outside of the front row. [Russ Lake Photo]

The three cars that will start on the front row of next Sunday’s Indy 500 posed in their qualifying positions Sunday morning at the Speedway. Ed Carpenter (right), is on the pole, rookie driver Carlos Munoz qualified second and Marco Andretti was third fastest and will start on the outside of the front row. [Russ Lake Photo]

Thursday, May 23 – It was the Firestone Indy Lights Series’ turn to be on track today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The track has been closed to on-track activity for the last three days. The original plan for today was for the Indy Lights to practice from 9:00 a.m. to noon and begin qualifying at 1:15 p.m.

However, the Rain Gods had other plans. The start of practice was delayed until 9:21 because of wet track conditions, was flagged at 10:08 a.m. because of rain and called at 10:59 a.m. as the track was still wet and would not be dry by Noon.

194 laps were run in the abbreviated practice session. Rookie driver Sage Karam was fastest at 189.981 mph, while fellow rookie Kyle O’Gara was second quick at 189.940. Carlos Munoz, who is doing double duty, racing in both the Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100 and the Indianapolis 500, posted the third fastest practice time at 189.511 mph.

More rain showers significantly delayed qualifying, which did not start until 4:15 p.m., three hours behind schedule.

Each of the 11 Indy Lights cars then made a two-lap qualifying run, with the average speed of the two laps determining the qualifying position.

At the end of qualifying, Sage Karam was on the pole with an average speed of 189.243 mph. Carlos Munoz will on the outside of the front row with a speed of 189.103 mph. Munoz will also start second in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

Karam, who earned the first Firestone Indy Lights pole of his career, was very pleased with the performance of his Schmidt Peterson c/w Curb Agajanian car and crew.

“I can’t thank the team enough. The team put a good car together for me. The rain threw a little bit of a curve ball. To get the pole is a surprise to me. We’ve really been working hard on the race set-up. Qualifying here isn’t as important as other track, but it’s definitely a confidence booster,” he said.

The Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100 will take the green flag tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. as part of a very busy Carb Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The day will begin with vintage car laps on the track at 8:30 a.m., followed by IndyCar final practice from 11:00 a.m. to Noon, the Freedom 100, and the Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge at 1:30 p.m. The day will wrap up with a concert featuring the band Poison at 3:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 19 – Sunday was the second, and final, day of qualifying for next Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

It was a day of triumph for Katherine Legge and a day of sorrow for Michel Jourdain Jr.

Legge just signed to drive the third Schmidt Peterson Racing entry Saturday morning. She had just 24 laps of practice this morning before making a successful qualifying attempt to become the 33rd qualifier for the race.

Michel Jourdain Jr. had signed with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing to run only the Indianapolis 500. Jourdain practiced every day the track was open. The team tried the set-up of both of his teammates cars on the car and teammate Graham Rahal took the car out to try to set it up, but it all was to no avail. Whatever the team tried, they could not get the car up to speed and Jourdain was the only driver entered who ended up not in the field.

Jourdain was devastated by the situation. “We know, for sure, that there is something wrong with the car, for sure. Something bent, broken, loose, bending. Something is broken in the middle of the car we have not seen. There is something wrong; we don’t know,” he said.
Josef Newgarden was the fastest qualifier of the day with a four-lap average speed of 225.731 mph. He was the only driver to qualify today with a speed that was faster than some of Saturday’s qualifiers, but the second day qualifiers start behind the first day qualifiers, regardless of speed.

The field for the Sunday, May 26 Indianapolis 500 is now complete.

There will be no on-track activity at the Speedway until Thursday May 23. Thursday the Firestone Indy Lights will take to the track for practice and qualifying for Friday’s Freedom 100 Firestone Indy Lights race.

2013 Indianapolis 500 Line-up
Row 1
1 – #20 Ed Carpenter 228.762 mph C
2 – #26 Carlos Munoz 228.342 mph C
3 – #25 Marco Andretti 228.261 mph C

Row 2
4 – # 6 EJ Viso 228.150 mph C
5 – # 2 AJ Almendinger 228.099 mph C
6 – #12 Will Power 228.087 mph C

Row 3
7 – # 1 Ryan Hunter-Reay 227.904 mph C
8 – # 3 Helio Castroneves 227.762 mph C
9 – #27 James Hinchcliffe 227.070 mph C

Row 4
10 – # 4 JR Hildebrand 227.441 mph C
11 – #98 Alex Tagliani 227.386 mph H
12 – #11 Tony Kanaan 226.949 mph H

Row 5
13 – #22 Oriol Servia 226.814 mph C
14 – #19 Justin Wilson 226.370 mph H
15 – # 7 Sebastien Bourdais 226.196 mph C

Row 6
16 – # 9 Scott Dixon 226.158 mph H
17 – #10 Dario Franchitti 226.069 mph H
18 – #14 Takuma Sato 225.892 mph H

Row 7
19 – #83 Charlie Kimball 225.880 mph H
20 – #16 James Jakes 225.809 mph H
21 – #77 Simon Pagenaud 225.674 mph H

Row 8
22 – #60 Townsend Bell 225.643 mph C
23 – # 8 Ryan Briscoe 225.265 mph H
24 – #78 Simona de Silvestro 225.226 mph C

Row 9
25 – #21 Josef Newgarden 225.731 mph H
26 – #15 Graham Rahal 225.007 mph H
27 – # 6 Sebastian Saavedra 224.929 mph C

Row 10
28 – #55 Tristan Vautier 224.873 mph H
29 – #18 Ana Beatriz 224.184 mph H
30 – #63 Pippa Mann 224.005 mph H

Row 11
31 – #41 Conor Daly 223.582 mph H
32 – #91 Buddy Lazier 223.442 mph C
33 – #81 Katherine Legge 223.176 mph H

All cars have Dallara Chassis and Firestone Tires
C=Chevrolet Engine H= Honda Engine

Saturday, May 18 – It’s Pole Qualifying Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway!

Normally, this report is done in chronological order, but this is not a normal day.

Fast Nine qualifying, which was originally scheduled for 4:30 p.m., did not begin until 6:30 p.m., and due to weather conditions, rather than having a full 1-1/2 hours of time to make as many attempts as possible, each team of the Fast Nine had only one attempt at qualifying.

When all was said and done, Ed Carpenter Racing proved to be the little team that did.

The Fast Nine were the cars of Will Power (#12), Ryan Hunter-Reay (#1), Carlos Munoz (#26), Helio Castroneves (#3), Ed Carpenter (#20), Marco Andretti (#25), AJ Almendinger (#2), EJ Viso (#5), James Hinchcliffe (#27).

The team breakdown was five Andretti Autosport cars (#’s 1, 26, 25, 5 and 27), three Team Penske cars (#’s 12, 3 and 2) and Ed Carpenter Racing (#20).

The nine went out in opposite order or their qualifying speed with the slowest of the nine, James Hinchcliffe, going out first.

Following Hinchcliffe was Viso, who surpassed Hinchcliffe’s time to temporarily claim the pole. Allmendinger was out next and posted a speed between that of Hinchcliffe and Viso

Andretti was next out and took the pole away from Viso.

Ed Carpenter, owner and driver of a single car team, was next out on the track. He quickly got everyone’s attention when his first lap speed was 229.357 mph. His next three laps were progressively slower, but his four-lap average of 228.762 mph was good enough to put him on the pole.

The next four cars to qualify, those of Castroneves, Munoz, Hunter-Reay and Power came close, but were unable to surpass Carpenter.

The Speedway erupted in cheers for Carpenter after qualifying was completed and the hometown boy, car owner/driver had beaten the big teams with the big budgets.

Carpenter was obviously happy with his pole winning run but also wanted to emphasize that the big challenge was still ahead of the Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Team.

“This is a good start,” he said, “but I want to make sure we keep the team focused. The guys made the right call today and I’m really proud of them, but I don’t want to forget why we’re really here.”

Carpenter’s pole was the climax of the day, but it was a qualifying day and important to everyone so we will now go back to the beginning of the day. . .

Despite foggy conditions the morning practice session started on schedule at 8:00 a.m.

By 8:10, Buddy Lazier had completed the second phase of his refresher test, which was interrupted by yesterday’s rain.

The session was interrupted by a light rain from 9:32 until 9:52, and then was flagged one minute early when the rain began to fall at 9:59 a.m.

The Team Penske cars of Will Power and AJ Almendinger were the two fastest cars in the morning practice session with speeds of 229.808mph and 229.086 mph.

Rain fell until about 11:00a.m., which was when qualifying was supposed to start.

The original schedule was for the first segment of qualifying to qualify 24 cars was to run from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The second segment for the day, in which the fastest nine would participate in a shootout for the pole, was scheduled to be from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.

However, because of the rain, the schedule was modified to continue first segment qualifying for the first 24 positions until 6:00 p.m. with the fast nine qualifying delayed until 6:30 p.m., at which time each of the top nine cars each got one attempt to capture the pole.

Track drying took about two and one-half hour with the first qualifier going out at 1:28 p.m.

The 24th position in the field was filled at 3:24 p.m. and “bumping” began. At that point, the slowest speeding the field belonged to Buddy Lazier with a speed of 223.073 mph.

After that point, 12 more cars made successful qualifying attempts to “bump” their way into the field and, when top 24 qualifying ended at 6:00 p.m., the slowest car of the 24 positions filled today was that of Simona de Silvestro with a speed of 225.226 mph.

Sunday, 12 cars will attempt to qualify for the final 11 positions in the field. The morning practice session will be from 9-10 a.m. and the qualifying session will run from noon to 6:00 p.m.

Friday, May 17 – A severe thunderstorm with torrential rain came over the Speedway about 3:00 p.m., cutting short the Fast Friday activities, but not before 32 cars took to the track for practice. The only driver not on the track was Conor Daly, whose AJ Foyt Racing machine was not yet ready to go back on the track after Daly’s crash yesterday.

Soon after the heavy rains came, the track was officially closed for the day, with three Andretti Motorsport cars at the top of the speed chart.

EJ Viso was quickest of the day with a practice-high speed of 229.537 mph, over four mph higher than the previous high in practice. Higher speeds than had been recorded prior to today were expected, as the allowed turbocharger boost was increased by ten kiloPascals (kPa) for today’s practice and for qualifying on Saturday and Sunday.

Viso’s teammates, Marco Andretti and rookie Carlos Munoz, were second and third on the chart with speeds of 228.754 mph and 228.520 mph, respectively.

Team Penske driver, Helio Castroneves, was fourth quick with a speed of 228.401, while Panther Racing’s JR Hildebrand posted a speed of 227.549 mph to round out the top five.

Prior to the start of practice this morning, Buddy Lazier took to the track to begin his refresher test, which consists of two phases; 15 laps at 205-209 mph and 15 laps at 210 mph-plus.

Lazier completed the first portion of the test at 9:30 this morning, and had completed nine of the required laps of phase two when the rain came this afternoon.

Tomorrow is Pole Qualifying day. There will be a two-hour practice session from 8-10 a.m. The first qualifying session, in which 24 cars will qualify for positions in the Indianapolis 500, runs from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Each car will have three attempt to qualify in that time period.

Following a half-hour break, the fastest nine qualifiers will have their times erased and will run for the pole, but are guaranteed to start no worse than ninth. Each team will have a minimum of one attempt to qualify in that time, but teams can make more than one attempt if time permits.

If there is rain during the day, the “fast nine” run will be eliminated and the top nine will start according to their original qualifying time.

Thursday, May 16 – Practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway had been incident free until 2:19 p.m. today. Through yesterday there had been 5,235 incident-free laps and there was over an hour of green flag practice time today until Conor Daly brought out the yellow for an accident in Turn 1.

Daly wiggled coming out of Turn 1 and hit the SAFER barrier with the right side of the car, which then did a quarter-spin to the left, moved upward and almost turned over before sliding sideways down the short chute between Turns 1 and 2 and stopping at the entrance to Turn 2. Daly climbed out of the car uninjured.

After being released from the infield care center, the second-generation rookie driver commented on the accident. “I felt comfortable the whole time. I was just trying to experience a little bit more with the car and the rear was leaning hard on the outside tire and it just kind of folded over on itself. I just lost it,” Daly said.

The “Andretti Armada” as the public address announcers at the Speedway have dubbed them, again dominated practice as Andretti Autosport drivers posted four of the six fastest speeds of the day.

Rookie Carlos Munoz was quickest with a speed of 225.163 mph. Munoz was followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was second quick at 225.006 mph. Marco Andretti rounded out the top three at 224.882 mph.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon was fourth quick at 224.468 mph with Helio Castroneves fifth at 224.457 mph.

EJ Viso had the fourth Andretti Autosport car in the top six, as he was sixth quick at 224.221 mph.

Off the track, the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown trophy was unveiled in a morning press conference. The IndyCar Triple Crown, sponsored by Fuzzy’s Vodka, will consist of the Indianapolis 500, a 400-mile race at Pocono and a 500-mile season finale at Auto Club Speedway.

An IndyCar Triple Crown was held from 1971 to 1989 and was only won once. Al Unser claimed the Triple Crown in 1978, winning races at Indianapolis, Pocono and Ontario Motor Speedway.

If anyone achieves this year’s Triple Crown they will receive a $1 million bonus and the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown Trophy. If any driver wins two of the three races, they will receive a $250,000 bonus.

33 cars were on the track today as 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier made his first appearance on the track. He made three slow laps and will attempt his refresher test tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow is “Fast Friday” at the track. The cars will be allowed an additional amount of turbocharger boost for practice tomorrow and qualifying on Saturday and Sunday, so speeds are expected to rise accordingly.

Wednesday, May 15 – Target Chip Ganassi Racing has not been at the top of the speed charts until today when Dario Franchitti had the fastest speed of the day at 224.236 mph.

Ryan Briscoe, who is only competing at Indianapolis for Chip Ganassi Racing, was fifth fastest with a speed of 222.803 mph.

Townsend Bell, who is also only driving at Indy, was second quickest on the speed chart at 223.716 mph in his Panther Racing machine.

Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves posted the third fastest time at 223.699 mph, while Ryan Hunter-Reay in his Andretti Autosport mount posted the fourth quickest speed at 223.093 mph.

The practice days remain incident-free, but the yellow was out for 11 minutes in the afternoon for an unusual occurrence as the decals peeled off of Sebastian Saavedra’s car requiring the Holmatro Safety team to entirely clean the frontstretch of the debris.

On a day in which the air temperature reached 90 degrees, thirty-two drivers completed 2,165 laps on the track today and a total of 5,235 incident-free laps so far this month.

Tuesday, May 14 – It was another busy day of practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and another day that was dominated by Andretti Autosport drivers.

James Hinchcliffe posted the fastest speed of the day at 224.210 mph. The twist was that he set the speed in his teammate Marco Andretti’s car, while Andretti was driving Hinchcliffe’s mount.

Later in the day, Andretti, back driving his own car, set the third quickest speed of the day at 223.570 mph.

Sandwiched between the two was the driver of the #4 National Guard-sponsored machine, JR Hildebrand, with a speed of 223.652 mph. Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves was fourth quick at 223.556 mph and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top five at 223.332 mph.

The warm temperatures at the Speedway today brought out a number of cars practicing pit stops and race runs, thinking the temperatures will be similar on race day.

The driver of car #77, Simon Pagenaud, talked about getting ready for the race. “It was an OK day. The weather was kind enough to be similar to what it’s going to be on Race Day, so we got to try a lot of things that should relate to the race. It was an interesting day.”

Practice continued to be incident-free on a very busy day in which 2,226 laps were completed by 34 car/driver combinations.

Monday, May 13 – The pace picked up today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as 29 car/driver combinations were on the track and turned 1,733 incident-free laps.

Speeds picked up as well, as the top speed of the day, 225.100 mph, was turned in by Andretti Autosport driver Marco Andretti. Just a tick behind Andretti was three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves at 225.075 mph.

Ryan Hunter-Reay posted the third quickest speed of the day at 224.386 mph. He was followed by Will Power at 223.784 mph, while JR Hildebrand rounded out the top five at 223.624 mph.

Prior to the start of the regular practice period, rookie driver Conor Daly passed the Rookie Orientation Program (ROP) and was cleared to practice anytime the track is open for practice.

While Daly easily passed his ROP, he endured some trials and tribulations, in getting ready to take the test.

Daly flew in from Spain where he was racing over the weekend, however, his luggage did not arrive with him. Fortunately, he had carried his ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing driving suit with him on the flight and had a helmet waiting for him at the track. The problem arose when he did not have a mandatory HANS device with him. He tweeted his fellow drivers looking for one of the head and neck restraint systems. Marco Andretti saved the day as he loaned his HANS device to Daly for the ROP.

In addition to Daly passing the ROP, Pippa Mann, driving for Dale Coyne Racing, passed her refresher, which is comprised of the last two phases of the ROP. Mann was required to take the refresher as she was not in the 2012 Indy 500.

In other news from the Speedway, it was announced today that Derrick Walker will become President of Operations and Competition of INDYCAR, effective May 27. In his position he will be responsible for all technical and competition aspects of the operations of INDYCAR.

Practice for the May 26 Indy 500 resumes at noon tomorrow.

Sunday, May 12 – Despite it being a cold and windy day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 730 incident-free practice laps were turned today.

When the track closed at 6:00 p.m. local time, rookie driver Carlos Munoz had posted the fastest lap of the day at a speed of 223.023 mph.

Andretti Autosport drivers posted four of the day’s five fastest speeds as Munoz’s teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay (222.825 mph), E.J. Viso (222.523 mph) and Marco Andretti (222.485 mph) trailed him is the speed chart.

Another rookie driver, team Penske’s AJ Almendinger edged out the fifth Andretti Autosport driver, James Hinchcliffe, for the fifth fastest speed of the day at 221.279 mph.

Early indications are that this year’s Indianapolis 500 field will be highly competitive as the times of the top 17 drivers were separated by less than one second.

General practice will resume tomorrow afternoon but there will be on-track activity in the morning as Conor Daly, who was racing in Europe this weekend, will do his Rookie Orientation Program (ROP). In addition, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, Buddy Lazier, who last raced at the Speedway in 2008, and Pippa Mann, who did not compete last year, will be required to pass a refresher test which consists of the second two phases of the ROP: 15 laps at 205-209 mph and 15 laps at 210-plus mph.

Saturday, May 11 – The Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened for practice today for the May 26, 2013 Indianapolis 500. The day began with a two-hour practice session for race veterans prior to the three rookies at the track taking to the track from 2:00 to 4:00 pm for the Rookie Orientation Program (ROP).

The rookie program consists of three phases. In the first phase, drivers must complete 10 laps at 200-205 mph. The second phase consists of 15 laps at 205-209 mph and in the third phase drivers must complete 15 laps at 210-plus mph.

The three rookie drivers at the Speedway today, Carlos Munoz, Tristan Vautier and AJ Almendinger completed all three phases of the test in less than two hours.

The fourth rookie entered for the 2013 Indianapolis 500, Conor Daly, is racing in Europe this weekend and is expected to begin his ROP on Monday.

NASCAR driver Kurt Busch completed the ROP on Thursday in an Andretti Autosport car, but is not expected to compete in this year’s “500.”

Following the completion of the ROP a driver is able to practice any time the track is open for practice.

The track re-opened for general practice after the completion of the ROP and a half-hour rain delay.

When practice closed at 6:00 p.m., 15 cars had been on the track and turned a total of 480 laps.

Ed Carpenter turned the fastest lap of the day at 220.970 mph while Josef Newgarden had the second-quickest lap at 220.920 mph. Rookie Carlos Minoz was third fastest at 220.720, followed by Charlie Kimball at 220.633 mpg, while Alex Tagliani rounded out the top five with a speed of 220.248 mph.

Practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway resumes tomorrow from noon to 6:00 p.m.

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