Tagliani Tops Charts As Indy Practice Continues

| , RacinToday.com Monday, May 16 2011

The weather cleared and Alex Tagliani was fastest at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday. (Photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

Alex Tagliani topped the speed chart with a best lap of 225.878 mph to earn top honors in Monday’s practice for the 100 running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Seven different teams were represented in the top 10 of speeds as 39 drivers recorded 1,379 laps in a stiff, cool breeze.

“It was the not the best conditions that we have seen in Indy, but it was OK,” Tagliani said. “We didn’t run on the first day and Sunday was raining, so today was the first opportunity for us to run. Thanks to the boys; they did a fantastic job preparing an amazing car. It is early in the week, but it is quite nice to show that the Bowers & Wilkins car is strong for an Indy run.

“When we came here last year, we didn’t know what to expect. We came in apprehensive because it’s a very tough place to get it right and very difficult to win. Obviously, we had some speed, and it worked out quite well last year. We build from it. We had a chance in 2010 to develop a good base and in the winter, the guys worked really hard on the car and cleaned it up a bit and always paid attention to details. That’s what this place wants, and it’s nice to start the week with a car that’s quite strong. Hopefully we can build on it. You can never take anything for granted at this place. We have to stay on our toes all week and roll the car out for qualifying and hope for the best.”

The field was separated by a scant 1.2 seconds.

Scott Dixon (225.124) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Graham Rahal (225.071) of Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing, Ryan Briscoe (225.016) of IZOD Team Penske and Oriol Servia (224.903) of Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing filled out the top five.

Dixon, Rahal, Briscoe, Dario Franchitti – the reigning Indy 500 champion of Target Chip Ganassi Racing – Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport, Vitor Meira of A.J. Foyt Racing, and Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves have been in the top 10 both days of practice as teams progress through their test programs.


Owners of more than 250 vintage Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars will have the opportunity to take a ceremonial lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the end of Pole Day/Tom Carnegie Day on Saturday, May 21.

Held in conjunction with the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 and a month-long celebration of great race and passenger cars at IMS, more than 250 Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars will appear May 21-22 at the Racing Capital of the World. This special two-day event, which will be highlighted by the ceremonial pace lap just after 6 p.m. Pole Day, will showcase the largest collection of vintage Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars ever assembled.

Headlining this amazing array of automobiles will be a Stoddard-Dayton, the same type that paced the inaugural Indianapolis 500 won in 1911 by Ray Harroun, who drove the legendary Marmon-Wasp to victory. The 1911 Indianapolis 500 was the first major auto race to use a Pace Car, which is now a tradition at races around the world. At the wheel of the Stoddard-Dayton at the 1911 “500” was Carl G. Fisher, one of the founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Another featured car at the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Reunion will be the Chevrolet Camaro from the 1969 “500” won by Mario Andretti. The 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 Chevrolet Camaro Pace Car is painted to look exactly like its 1969 predecessor.

From 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Pole Day, the Pace Cars will be staged for a “Fans Choice” vote. The cars also will be on display in the infield from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Bump Day/IMS Armed Forces Day on Sunday, May 22. As an added attraction, car clubs featuring muscle cars, exotics and more will provide fans plenty of eye candy.

Team Penske teammates Will Power and Ryan Briscoe talked about the significance of racing in the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 and their prospects to win the PEAK Performance Pole Award this Saturday.

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): “Every year it’s a special feeling. But somehow I think this year with more cars, more good drivers – and I think there will be a bigger crowd – I think this will be something else.” (On what it would mean to win the pole at Indy after capturing pole for the first four races of the season): “Yeah, for me, it would be a really big deal. It’s something that I’d love to do. I sort of had a chance last year, a close chance. After the experience of last year, I know what I need to do. Obviously, the conditions are changing every year, but the car’s exactly the same. I’m definitely keen to giving it everything I can to get the pole, no question.”

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 IZOD Team Penske): “Obviously, I’m grateful to be here and be able to do it with Team Penske. It’s an amazing team, and Roger (Penske) is just so passionate about this race. It gives me, as a driver, a whole lot of confidence going into it with the goal of winning. That’s the one and only goal coming here, to win the race. The 100th anniversary is very special.” (On the importance of going for the pole as a driver at Team Penske): “It certainly felt like in the last three years I’ve been in a great position to fight for the pole. Sometimes it just comes down to timing or whatever. But Helio, our teammate, he’s really good at getting on the pole here. But I feel we have exactly the same equipment. We’ve just got to make sure we put ourselves in the right position to be able to go for it on Saturday.”

Purdue University and HVM Racing announced a strategic partnership Saturday at IMS.

The HVM-Purdue relationship brings to the HVM team advanced engineering technologies in aerodynamics, manufacturing and advanced materials, providing opportunities for Purdue students and faculty to participate in motorsports with HVM.

The Purdue name will be displayed on the No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy HVM Racing car driven this month by 2010 Chase Rookie of the Year Simona de Silvestro. Purdue engineering students also will work as interns on the team, and HVM will collaborate with Purdue students and faculty to optimize the aerodynamic package for the new 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series cars under development by Dallara.

Another key component of the partnership is to develop educational programs for children, young adults and the public that uses the excitement of IZOD IndyCar Series racing as the starting point for the introduction of engineering and science. Of particular interest is to use electric motorsports as a venue to engage students and adults in a discussion on the technologies needed for economic, green and sustainable electric energy in the 21st century.

Electric motorsports are a key component of the HVM-Purdue partnership. Purdue conducted the Collegiate evGrandPrix on Saturday, May 7 during the Emerging Tech Day at IMS. College teams from across the nation and Europe designed, built and raced electric go-karts in the 100-lap event.

Ryan Hunter-Reay hopes to race in his fourth Indianapolis 500 later this month, but he took advantage of the complete rainout of practice Sunday, May 15 to visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum for the first time.

“I can’t believe I hadn’t been there,” said Hunter-Reay, the 2008 Indianapolis 500 Chase Rookie of the Year. “It was amazing. The place is what Indy car racing is all about, and that’s what makes Indy car racing special. To go there as a current Indy car driver made it even more special. To see the cars that were driven by owners of teams I’ve driven for and the ones driven by my heroes and know they all went to Victory Lane here at Indy made for a very special day.”

The one car that that the Andretti Autosport driver wanted to see was Rick Mears’ 1984-winning Pennzoil Z-7 Special. Hunter-Reay’s first go-kart was modeled after Mears’ race car, and seeing the real car for the first time brought back childhood memories for the IZOD IndyCar Series standout.

“The No. 6 Pennzoil car, in smaller form, was my first ride,” he said. “That’s what I got into a lot of trouble in. It was my neighborhood wheels, and I did my first right front wing damage in that car when I hit a stop sign.

“It was really cool to see the actual car. I’ve never seen it before, but to see the evolution of the Indy car was really neat to see. To see where the sport actually started and how the cars have developed over the years, and see what made these cars go faster and faster. Indianapolis has always been a proving ground as much as it is a huge race.”

Hunter-Reay was far from the only driver in the Museum during his visit. 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones and Dreyer & Reinbold’s Justin Wilson were visitors to the exhibit of 67 Indianapolis 500-winning cars.

And while Hunter-Reay told all the well-wishers in the Museum his plan was to have his Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car join the winning cars in the Museum next year, he hopes to get another visit to see the cars on display again.

“I’m going to go back again before I leave this month,” Hunter-Reay said.

| , RacinToday.com Monday, May 16 2011
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