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Carb Day Notes: Kanaan Heads Into Weekend As A Contender

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 28 2016
A terrific Carb Day prompted Chip Ganassi Racing's Tony Kanaan to issue a warning on Friday: Don't count us out on Sunday. (Photos courtesy of INDYCAR)

A terrific Carb Day prompted Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan to issue a warning on Friday: Don’t count us out on Sunday. (Photos courtesy of INDYCAR)

INDIANAPOLIS – Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is for sending messages, so let the words of 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan sink-in and serve as a warning heading into Sunday’s historic 100th edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

bugindynotes“You know, anybody count us out (for victory on Sunday), it’s a big mistake,” Kanaan said after topping the speed chart at the close of Friday’s final practice around the 2.5-mile IMS oval. The session was played-out before a crowd estimated at 100,000, largest since the split between the Indy Racing League and Championship Auto Racing Teams after the 1995 race.

“It will be more exciting for the fans,” the popular Brazilian said. “I’m amazed how many people are here today. It’s really…I thought all of my 15 years I had seen it all here, and clearly I didn’t. So I can’t wait until Sunday.”

Kanaan, who will start 18th in the 33-car field in his No. 10 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing, cranked out a hot lap at 226.280 mph on the 28th of his 42 laps.

“I’m happy with my car,” said Kanaan, who will make his 15th Indy 500 start Sunday. “Obviously, I have to pass 17 people before I get really happy with my car. After the struggle in qualifying, we

Drivers competing in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 assembled for the traditional class photo on Friday.

Drivers competing in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 assembled for the traditional class photo on Friday.

really focused _ me and (Scott) Dixon _ on the race. And you can see both of us at the top there.”

Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport was second-fast at 224.772 mph in the No. 26 Honda, just ahead of Dixon at 224.606 mph in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. Dixon, the four-time/reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion, won the Indy 500 in 2008.

Munoz, who will start his fourth Indy 500 from the middle of the second row, said Carb Day practice confirmed the strength of his car. “Today was just a check to see the car was running good,” said Munoz, who finished second to Kanaan as an Indy 500 rookie in 2013. “Everything was running good. The conditions will be different on Sunday. Every practice and qualifying I’ve been on the top of the charts, but that doesn’t matter.”

Series point-leader Simon Pagenaud _ winner of three consecutive races _ was 22nd at 222.581 mph in the No. 22 Team Penske Chevy.

Juan Pablo Montoya, the two-time/reigning Indianapolis 500 champion, was 13th at 223.571 mph in the No. 2 Team Penske Chevy. Teammate Helio Castroneves, a three-time Indy 500 winner, was 10th at 223.959 mph in the No. 3 Team Penske Chevy. Will Power, runnerup to Montoya in last year’s race, posted the fourth-fastest speed at 224.384 mph in the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet. Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport was fifth at 224.327 mph in the No. 28 Honda.

Pole-sitter James Hinchcliffe turned 48 laps and was 12th-fastest at 223.925 mph in the No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. More than 1,300 laps were completed during the extended 70-minute session, with Pagenaud and Charlie Kimball, driver of the No. 42 Chevy fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing, each logging 52.

Kanaan will be looking to add to his Indy 500 laps-led total of 295 after recording a pair of26th-

Tony Kanaan is out to give thew Borg Warner Trophy another hug. He won the 500 in 2013.

Tony Kanaan is out to give thew Borg Warner Trophy another hug. He won the 500 in 2013.

place finishes at IMS. Kanaan led 34 laps en route to victory in 2013, his final season with KV Racing Technology.

“The pressures of the race, it’s like I said, it’s been an unbelievable experience,” Kanaan said. “I’m so humbled to be able to be part of this. I mean, I’ve always wanted to be in this race since I was a little kid. I’ve never really came to this place until I actually raced in 2002, so I really haven’t experienced what people had told me when this place is sold-out, how does it feel when you go out, you know, go into the tunnel and you experience the crowd. Because it’s definitely more crowded. I’ve been here, like I said, for 15 years and I’ve never, never seen anything like this.

“So I’m enjoying it. I hope with this it’s the big jump that we needed to bring the 500 back to where it belongs. And you know, we can gain new fans this year, the word is out there so they can come back for many years to come. So that’s my view of this 100th (edition). And for me, first of all, I’ve never thought I was going to be competing on the 100th Indy 500. That didn’t even cross my mind. We don’t count 500s, right? So to me it’s a different experience. I hope we can put a good show for the people that are paying to come here because they deserve it. They make it a very unforgettable moment for me for sure.”

The lone incident of the session saw Pippa Mann spin and crash in Turn 4, backing her No. 63 Dale Coyne Racing Honda into the SAFER Barrier. Mann’s day finished after 26 laps.

“I’m absolutely fine,” said Mann, who will start her fifth Indy 500 on Sunday. “I just really feel sorry for the crew. I was trying to find some clean air in pack running there, got a little too low on the inside. Dropped the ball and gave them some work to do overnight. The good news is the damage wasn’t too bad. Hopefully it’s the right rear corner, rear attenuator, rear wing and that’s all we have to fix.”

All 33 cars now will sit idle until Sunday’s race. Coverage on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network begins at 11 a.m. (ET).

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Dean Stoneman edged Ed Jones by 0.0024-seconds to win the Freedom 100 in the closest finish in IMS oval history during the premier event on the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires schedule.

Starting fifth, Stoneman pushed his way into second place by Lap 9 in the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Dallara IL-15. He passed pole-sitter Jones for the lead on the next lap and, while Stoneman led 30 of the final 31 laps at the start/finish line, the pair swapped the point numerous times throughout the race.

Jones took the lead on the final restart, a one-lap shootout following a caution to retrieve the stopped car of Heamin Choi. Stoneman and Jones raced side-by-side heading into Turns 3 and 4 on the final lap, setting up a drag race down the frontstretch to the checkered flag. The margin of victory was a few inches.

“It was an amazing race,” said Stoneman, who collected his second straight Indy Lights win after capturing the second race of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis doubleheader on the IMS road-course on May 14. “On that last lap it was pretty close. I knew in the race I was consistent and knew where to position my car to finish the race in the lead.”

Jones conceded he should have taken the outside line for the chase to the checkers. “I probably chose the wrong lane, it was my fault,” Jones said. “I feel like if I had gone outside maybe I would have held momentum and been able to hold him off. Unfortunately, I made the wrong call. That’s what cost us.”

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Team Penske and Helio Castroneves won the TAG Heuer Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge, earning a $50,000 prize Friday afternoon. “Spiderman” celebrated his eighth win in the contest by climbing

Team Penske's Helio Castroneves celebrates victory in the pit crew competition.

Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves celebrates victory in the pit crew competition.

the fence in front of the Tower Terrance grandstand.

Castroneves beat Mikhail Aleshin of Schmidt Peterson with Team Pelfrey in the final round. Castroneves scored the 17th win for Team Penske in the annual competition for Indy 500 pit crews , an event that started in 1977. Winner of the competition has gone on to victory in the Indianapolis 500 six times, most recently with Castroneves in 2009.

“I went for it. I was able to stop really deep,” said Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Team Penske Chevy. “I was able to slide in just perfect. The Pennzoil boys, the Team Penske boys, really…they are the fastest. All the credit to those guys. Very happy to be part of this organization.”

Castroneves’ crew was composed of members from the cars of his team and teammate Simon Pagenaud’s No. 22 entry. “This team has been outstanding in the pit stop competition,” team-owner Roger Penske said. “They work every day at the shop. We took our best guys and put them together on the two cars. This gives us momentum for Sunday.”

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Three-time Indy 500 champion Johnny Rutherford, longtime driver of the Verizon IndyCar Series pace car, was honored prior to Carb Day practice by drivers and crew members on a ceremonial lap along pit road.

Rutherford, 78, is turning over pace car duties following Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 to Sarah Fisher. “Lone Star J.R.” also received a special award from Firestone Racing commemorating “54 great years at Indy _ 500 winner, driver coach and Pace Car driver” and a banner signed by all 33 drivers in the 100th running.

“(It was) a total surprise to me,” said Rutherford, of Fort Worth, Texas. “I thought we were just going to go out and to do a radio check with the pace car. We did accomplish that, but when I pulled her out and saw all the crews and all the people (on pit road), it was fantastic. I was in total shock.

“When I retired (as an Indy car driver), I had the opportunity to start driving the pace car. It meant a lot to me because I can stay up-close and personal and I get to lead the field. This year’s race will be something; it will be a dandy.”

Rutherford qualified for 24 Indy 500s between 1963 and 1988. Rutherford won in 1974 in the No. 3 McLaren/Offenhauser, and in 1976 in the No. 2 Hy-Gain McLaren/Offenhauser _ the latter from pole position. Ironically, he finished 33rd and last in the 1977 race as defending champion after the gearbox broke in his No. 2 1st National City Travelers Checks McLaren/Cosworth.

Rutherford’s final Indy 500 victory in 1980 also was launched from P1, this time driving the famed No. 4 Pennzoil “Yellow Submarine” Chaparral/Cosworth fielded by fellow-Texan Jim Hall. Rutherford won the U.S. Auto Club and Championship Auto Racing Teams driving titles that season.

Rutherford is a charter member of the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame at Texas Motor Speedway in his hometown. The winning driver of the annual June Verizon IndyCar Series summertime night race at TMS receives the Foyt-Rutherford Trophy, named for J.R. and fellow-Texas legend A.J. Foyt Jr.

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T.E. McHale and Dan Layton, longtime representatives for Honda’s racing programs including the Verizon IndyCar Series, are co-recipients of the 2016 Jim Chapman Award for excellence in

The Honda team of Dan Layton, left, and T.E. McHale, right, was named winner of the 2016 Chapman Award.

The Honda PR team of Dan Layton, left, and T.E. McHale, right, was named winner of the 2016 Jim Chapman Award.

motorsports public relations. McHale and Layton were presented plaques Friday morning in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s media center, where a new permanent trophy was unveiled and will remain.

The Chapman Award honors the legendary PR executive and innovator who worked with baseball immortal Babe Ruth and was named Indy car racing’s “most influential man” of the 1980s.

McHale has been American Honda’s motorsports communications manager since 2003. He also reported on motorsports for the Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal from 1978-95 and worked on the public relations staff for CART through 2001.

Layton is in his 22nd year representing Honda in Indy car racing. He also has handled public relations duties in sports car racing and Formula Atlantics, among other series.

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Tim Whiting, Dale Coyne Racing chief mechanic on the No. 63 Honda driven by Pippa Mann, was named recipient of the Clint Brawner Mechanical Excellence Award. The honor goes annually to the Indianapolis 500 chief mechanic who exemplifies the excellence, ingenuity and perseverance similar to that of the legendary Clint Brawner. Sponsored by Firestone Racing, the award includes a $5,000 prize and the winner’s name inscribed on a trophy that permanently resides in the IMS Museum. … Kody Swanson of Kingsburg, Calif., became a three-time winner of the Hoosier Hundred U.S. Auto Club Silver Crown race at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, claiming Thursday’s race for the third consecutive year. Bryan Clauson, who will compete in the Indianapolis 500 for Dale Coyne/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing, finished fourth. … The Tatuus USF-17 chassis that will debut in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda competition was unveiled Friday at IMS. It will be the series chassis for at least five years, following testing and development this summer. … Seventy-five years after surviving one of the most terrifying attacks on American citizens, eight survivors of the Japanese bombing on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii will be honored during pre-race ceremonies for the 100th Indianapolis 500. The survivors _ all from Indiana _ and their families will walk the red carpet behind the Panasonic Pagoda at 9 a.m. Following Verizon IndyCar Series driver introductions, the group will be honored at11:45 a.m. during a ceremony and video commemorating the surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941 that drew the United States into World War II. 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 28 2016
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