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Daily Trackside Report - Monday, May 19

TODAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local):
6 a.m.    Garages open
Noon-5 p.m.    Indianapolis 500 practice

INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE:
At noon, the ambient temperature was 65 degrees with a relative humidity of 38 percent and winds from the north-northeast at 6 mph. Skies were mostly cloudy. The track temperature was 98 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.
Noon – GREEN. NCAA President Mark Emmert waves the green flag. #8 Briscoe is first on track.
12:23 p.m. – YELLOW. Debris.
***
Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA, was today’s honorary starter for Indianapolis 500 practice. Emmert also rode in the Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Pace Car with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti
MARK EMMERT: “It was fantastic (to wave the green flag). To have cars roaring by that close, it’s pretty amazing. These are remarkable cars and amazing drivers. For me, it was a thrill.” (And you rode with Dario Franchitti in the pace car as well?): “That was the best ever. (Dario) was always my favorite driver. It was a complete surprise that we was driving it. It was wonderful to chat with him, and of course, ride around the track with him. It was a remarkable thing to do.”
***
12:32 p.m. – GREEN.
12:43 p.m. – YELLOW. Track inspection.
12:53 p.m. – GREEN.
1:21 p.m. – YELLOW. Debris.
1:29 p.m. – GREEN.
1:34 p.m. – YELLOW. #26 Busch gets loose entering Turn 2 and makes hard right-side contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2. Small fire does a half spin and comes to rest in the grass at the exit Turn 2. Busch climbs from the car without assistance from the Holmatro Safety Team.
***
Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, INDYCAR Medical Director: Kurt Busch has been checked and released from the infield medical center. He is cleared to drive.
***
KURT BUSCH (No. 26 Suretone Honda): “I was starting to feel comfortable. That’s when I made the mistake of just letting my guard down or settling into that long run type mentality whereas with an Indy car you have to be on edge. You have to keep track of where you are at all times and the adjustments in the car. Maybe I just didn’t keep up with keeping the car underneath me. Trying to get into that rhythm and feel other things around you and I got behind on my adjustments in the car.” (What it feels like to crash before race day): “It’s nice to have it at an opportune time. We still have Carb Day to shake things down and get back in the groove. This created a lot of work for the Andretti guys. I feel bad for that. As a rookie, there’s things you learn and put it up on the edge and get away with and then there’s times when it will bite you. It’s just tough. I thought I was finding a rhythm and settling into that long run type pace and learning the tows and the draft and I didn’t keep track of the adjustments of the car.” (About how working in traffic and the crash): “One hundred percent just working in traffic. Just trying to settle in and not make mistakes and I just made a mistake.”
***
1:52 p.m. – GREEN.
2:49 p.m. – YELLOW. Track inspection.
3 p.m. – GREEN.
***
Should #26 Busch be forced to a backup car as a result of his contact this afternoon, his car will start in its qualified position per Rule 8.4.3.9 of the Verizon IndyCar Series Rulebook.

8.4.3.9. If a Qualified Car is involved in a crash, the Entrant may replace the Qualified Car with another Car and start the Race in the Qualified Car’s position. If a Qualified Car is unable to start the Race for any other reason, INDYCAR shall determine if the Entrant is permitted to replace the Qualified Car with another Car and start the Race in the Qualified Car’s position or if the Entrant is required to start the Race from the rear of the starting field.
***
Long-time Indianapolis 500 fans Cory and Linlee Patterson of Lafayette got married at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.

CORY PATTERSON: “We got married today in one of the Tower Terrace suites. We thought it would just be a little deal, but we came out to pit lane earlier to get some pictures and one thing led to another – from the yard of bricks to the Borg-Warner Trophy to Townsend Bell photo bombing us. Ed Carpenter’s wife saw us earlier when we were headed to the garages for some pictures and she went to get Ed for us to meet. IMS President J. Douglas Boles came over and congratulated us and later stopped in the suite. It’s just been phenomenal today. We had no idea any of that stuff would happen.” (How long they have been fans?): “I’ve been an IndyCar fan for life. We’ve been together for seven years and since we started dating, I got her hooked on it.”

LINLEE PATTERSON: “We’ve been to the ‘500’ together for the past five years and we’ve always had a fantastic time. The experience is always s amazing. We thought if we would get this chance we should take it because it’s once in a lifetime. We always make a Pole Day pilgrimage with our friends … so we got all of our friends together to make it a really special occasion here. One of the bridesmaids came all the way from Hawaii. They’ve all had a fabulous time with us today. We hope to continue this tradition. I know they’ll all be back to watch the race with us next year.”
***
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced today that Dallas Mavericks Owner and star of ABC's "Shark Tank," Mark Cuban will serve as the honorary starter of the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 25. Cuban will wave the green flag to start the field of 33 drivers in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," which begins at noon (ET) and will be televised live on ABC.

MARK CUBAN (Honorary Starter): "Whether it's winning an NBA Championship or the honor of waving the green flag to start the Indianapolis 500, there are certain sporting events that are monumental for any true sports fan," said Cuban.  "I am excited to come back to Indiana, not just to attend, but actually participate in this historic race."

J. DOUGLAS BOLES (Indianapolis Motor Speedway president): "Mark Cuban brings Indiana ties, a passion for sporting events, and a diverse following of fans around the globe to the flag stand at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said. "His successes and personality are well known in the business and entertainment world and we look forward to watching him wave the green flag to start the 98th Indianapolis 500."

Olympians Dallas Robinson and Abe Morlu are members of the Lazier Partners Racing entry for the No. 91 car driven by 1996 Indy 500 winner Buddy Lazier. They came on board through their association with race engineer David Cripps, who worked with the U.S. Bobsled & Luge team for the Sochi Games. Both took rides in the INDYCAR Experience 2-seater today with driver Mario Andretti.

ABE MORLU (tire changer, Lazier Partners Racing): “My bobsledding career was great. I was one of the bigger sprinters at 210 pounds, running the 100 (meters). A German guy saw me and asked me to do a pushing competition with them and we won, actually beating some world champions from the previous year. I actually had about two years off before I got my first offer to go bobsledding in Switzerland. I learned a lot there. I had an injury that set me back for a year. I tried again the year before the games and I did really well – broke a start record in St Moritz – and that is when the U.S. team noticed me. And, it was on from there.” (Did you also once go to the Olympics in track?) “When I was 19 years old I made my first games for Liberia, where I was born. I represented them in the 4x100 (meter relay). It was a great experience. It really opened my eyes. It was one of the best Olympics that country had ever had. I got injured in 2004, which was one of the years that I was really ready to actually perform and do something to hopefully make a final.” (What are your duties for Lazier Partners Racing?) “I thought I was just going to be watching the race. But, lo and behold, I am changing the left rear tire. I’m going to give it my best and try to get him (Buddy Lazier) some quick pit stops and maybe we can catch a couple of teams off with that. We’re going to give it the best we can. We’ll see how the practice runs go. It’s all muscle and memory. If you’re an athlete, they tell you to do something and that is what you do. You just do what they tell you to do. I’m not worried about it, but I want to go out there and give it my best.” (You’ve lived a “fast” life, speaking of fast, how did you like your ride in the Indy Racing Experience?) “That two-seater ride was awesome. I got to take it with Mario Andretti too. You can’t ask for anything better. It was great. Those cars have so much downforce and so much grip. I was trying to check out the line Mario was driving. I play it on a lot of simulators and after getting to see the line from Mario I want to play the game again so I can break my record. I am going to race Pikes Peak next year on a motorcycle – the race to the top. So, this experience really got me ready for it. I was second guessing it, but going that fast in a car with Mario, I thought, ‘Yeah, I’m ready to do this.’”

DALLAS ROBINSON (Fueler, Lazier Partners Racing):  “I ran college track and played some football. I ran a little professional track and then I got heavily recruited into U.S. rugby. I played rugby for two years. During this time, post-college, I was coaching. From there, I took a year off from professional athletics. I decided to retire and just coach. One of my student athletes who was a senior in college decided he wanted to try out for the bobsled team. To make a long story short, I trained him for it. I got a phone call asking if I would be a fourth guy on that team. Reluctantly, I eventually said yes. From there, I got moved from the developmental team up to a World Cup team in a matter of weeks. That was three years before the Olympics. This past year, I went to Sochi, Russia. I raced two-man and four-man in Sochi. I was fortunate to be one of the athletes able to do both. Honestly, myself and my driver, Nick Cunningham, every single race we had finished top-three and we finished 13th in Sochi. It was really disappointing for us. Finishing the first half of the season we were ranked second in the world so it was a disappointing finish but it was a great experience.” (What are your duties for Lazier Partners Racing?) "I'm a fueler. Amongst running errands and working 12-14 hour days, during practice and race time, I am over the wall and I’m fueling. It’s fantastic.” (More Robinson on next page)

DALLAS ROBINSON (Continued): “I’ve always said if I could choose any two careers, aside from being a soldier – I am active duty in the Kentucky National Guard – anything else I would rather be would be a bull rider, which I am too big for, or a race car driver. I love motorsports. David Cripps was our lead engineer in bobsled racing. He came back to IndyCar racing. I had built a close relationship with David. He knew my passion for motorsports and he gave me a call and asked if I wanted to come up to the Indy 500. I’m thinking I am going to watch my first Indy race live, and he said I was going to help. I thought they would give me a shirt and I would stand there. No, no, no. I am working full days with the entire crew – a bunch of great guys. It’s been fantastic.” (You came close to being a race car driver this morning riding in the Indy Racing Experience with Mario, how was that?) “I am getting closer to my goals. The two-seater with Andretti was wild. I am very used to feeling vertical g’s pushing me down. In a bobsled you get five vertical g’s. But the lateral G’s  in an IndyCar are something else. Vertical g’s push you down, with lateral g’s you are coming out through the side. You feel as though the back of the car, at any second, is going to come out. It’s amazing how tight they can handle. It was an amazing experience. I kept trying to lift my head up to look over Mario. That worked until we hit about 180 (mph) I was thinking I needed to put my head down. I thought, at any second, the back was going to come out. I’m going to be looking at Mario from the side at some point. It was pretty amazing.”
***
NASCAR driver Parker Kligerman is spending time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kligerman, 23, began his racing career in open-wheel cars and is looking at evaluating running in the Verizon IndyCar Series in the future. He is also the standby driver for Stewart-Haas Racing for Kurt Busch, should Busch be unable to race in the Coca-Cola 600.

PARKER KLIGERMAN: “I’ve been to the 500 as a fan in 2007, and in 2008, I lived out here for the summer when I was racing midgets (cars). I lived a block away from the Speedway, so I’ve been here before and have always been interested in the 500 as a fan. But to be here and be a little more behind the scenes is great. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports have been nice enough to show me around a little bit. I’ve been hanging out with Simon Pagenaud and it’s been fun. It’s cool to see the speed. Yesterday I went up to the spotter’s stand in Turn 1 and saw the guys get a little loose and see how the cars react, and that was awesome. I’m enjoying it.” (Has driving in the Indy 500 been on your radar as you’ve raced?): “I actually started racing in open-wheel cars. I did Formula Renault my first ever season and Skip Barber. I wanted to go over to Europe, but just couldn’t afford it. Stock car (racing) was a place you could go as a young kid and get an opportunity. I was able to take that opportunity and get to the top of that sport. I have a love for open-wheel cars and it’s something that me and my manager Bob Perona have talked about. I’ve been given a bit of a vacation right now, so I’m taking the opportunity as a race fan and a racer to see what’s out there and what the possibilities are.” (Does seeing AJ Allmendinger, Juan Montoya and Kurt Busch have success help you make that decision?): “AJ and I are good friends and we’ve talked about it a lot. His year last year, where he took a step back from full-time stockcars is the example of how to do it. Go out and drive as many different cars as you can and do as well as you can and enjoy racing. I think he really enjoyed that. I was talking to Roger (Penske) yesterday and we were talking about that same situation. He saw me and said, ‘What are you doing here?’ and I said, ‘Just looking around.’ And he said, ‘Well AJ did it last year.’ We laughed about it. It’s almost harkens back to the days when guys drove everything. I think guys are looking to do more of that because we get bored doing the same thing week in and week out.”

INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE: (Cont.)
4:16 p.m. – YELLOW. Track inspection.
4:26 p.m. – GREEN.
5 p.m. – CHECKERED.

FASTEST TIMES/SPEEDS OF PRACTICE:
Pos.    Car     Name    Time    Speed
1.    67    Josef Newgarden    39.6292    227.105
2.    2    Juan Pablo Montoya    39.7295    226.532
3.    9    Scott Dixon    39.7469    226.433
4.    7    Mikhail Aleshin*    39.7577    226.371
5.    10    Tony Kanaan    39.7639    226.336
* - Rookie
***
Thirty-four drivers have been on the track to date and turned 2,329 laps today and 10,959 laps this month. Townsend Bell turned 148 laps today, most of any driver. There were six cautions for a total of 1 hour, 4 minutes and 37 seconds today.

INDIANAPOLIS 500 POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

PIPPA MANN (No. 63 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “It’s been a tough day for the Susan G. Komen / Dale Coyne Racing team. We picked up a handling issue early on which we were working through, and then just as we thought we were starting to get on top of it, I was caught out in the debris field from Kurt Busch's accident. I'm completely fine, and I managed to avoid all the biggest pieces, but the Susan G. Komen car did collect some of the smaller stuff. One of those smaller pieces got beneath our underwing, and tore a chunk out of the bottom of the car.  When we discovered the extent of the damage from debris, we were done for the day.  On a more positive note, we ran through a bunch of practice pit stops, all of which went pretty well, and we got another 37 laps on the board, gaining me experience, and continuing to grow our lap count total for RaceWithPippa.com. We also still have Carb Day so the team will get the Susan G. Komen car all fixed up, pretty and ready to run again so we can continue our race preparation in earnest. It's tough to lose this much valuable track time today, but that's just the name of the game sometimes.”

MARTIN PLOWMAN (No. 41 ABC Suppy/A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “I think we had a very good day. Obviously today we're gearing for the race and I was able to mix it up in some big packs of cars. I was able to drive along with some of the big boys out there - the Penske's and Ganassi's - and I think we have a car that can hang with them. We've definitely improved the car in dirty air. By itself, the car is very balanced and I think we've got a better idea of where we need to improve for Carb Day.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “Today we had a great opportunity to experiment for the race set up after qualifying. We needed to review quite a lot of areas of where we could improve. We tried many items and were able to rule out some things which was good. We had planned to run more but we didn’t get the opportunity due to Honda asking us to stop so they could investigate an issue that arose today. It’s a shame that we weren’t able to get back out to run more in traffic but we will to do so on Carb Day.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “Today we basically switched back from qualifying mode to race mode.  We ran the Target can in race trim all day, doing long runs and checking on things like setup and fuel mileage.  One more practice to go on Friday then you have what you have for the race.  I think we’ve made some pretty good gains this week with the cars and am now I’m 100 percent focused on the job we have to do on Sunday.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “We have a solid car.  It’s a fast race car and the Target team has done a great job these last few days.  We worked today on some race setup stuff, as well as some aero changes that I think will help us for the race.”

SAGE KARAM (No. 22 Comfort Revolution/Brantley Gilbert Chevrolet): “Things went really well today. Obviously yesterday we just missed something in the setup, and today we made some changes for that and the car was a hell of a lot better. We were really fast today. I was able to run with traffic, run up on guys, and make a lot of passes. Today was a really encouraging day for me and for the team as well because it shows we can get to the front and we can pass anybody. Because of that I’m really looking forward to next Sunday, I think we still have a good shot at this thing.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): “After this qualifying format we had this weekend, it was just so stressful and tiring, mentally fatiguing this weekend. I think everyone felt that way. Everyone I talked to, including guys like Simon Pagenaud were just stressed to the max from these two days so that’s a good thing. You should have that at Indy. You should have that stress factor that you have to get through. So it was a little hard getting there today and having to go back out, but we really needed it. I mean, honestly we needed it on our team because we had so much rain last week that it was helpful to have a day where we’re able to work on the car before Friday on Carb Day because you’re quite limited. You have an hour on Carb Day. So whatever you’re doing pretty much needs to be done you don’t have time to really work on it on Carb Day. It’s more about preparing yourself for the race environment. Everyone’s going to be out there running like it’s the race and you kind of get yourself set up for that. So you’re not really working on the car, whereas today we were able to work on the car, refine what we needed to because of the weather we had last week and not getting everything done so for us it was very helpful. And I’m sure it was the same for everyone up and down the field.” (About Kurt Busch incident) “It looked like he got loose in (Turn) 2 and to me it looked like he over corrected like you would more in a NASCAR, obviously because you can slide those a little more. To me, what I saw it looked like he almost did too much as well and he was chasing it up the wall like he would on a stock car and the thing almost even snapped straight and he almost went straight in but then just ended up hitting it on the side.”

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Wynn Institute for Vision Research Chevrolet): “I really enjoy being here at Indy, and today was really good for us because we finally got to do some good laps. We did a lot of race set-up stuff. We’re starting to work through the process with the team, engineers and David Cripps. Together, we were able to get a decent race car. We certainly haven’t been focusing on speed; rather, we’re working on the balance of the car. Overall, we’re happy with the day, and we certainly feel like we have and can gain much more. It’s always frustrating when you feel like you’re leaving some on the table, and I know we have left a lot on the table. So a day like today is meaningful and will allow us to have a little more fun on race day.”

ABC will conduct a media conference call at noon (ET) Tuesday, May 20 with members of the team for its broadcast of the 97th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 26. This is ABC’s 50th  year at “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

Guests will include Allen Bestwick, lap-by-lap announcer; Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever, analysts; and Rich Feinberg, ESPN vice president, motorsports, production.

Accredited media can call 888-430-8691to participate. Media are requested to call by 11:55 a.m. (ET). Contact Andy Hall at andy.hall@espn.com to confirm participation.

INDIANAPOLIS 500 POST-PRACTICE QUOTES: (Cont.)

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “For me, what I really tried earlier, was running behind as many cars as possible to get the worst situation possible. I think our Verizon car is pretty good and we’ll see what it does. I don’t think anybody is happy. It’s really neutral by ourselves. It likes snaps and moves around a lot. And then you get in the back of the pack and it doesn’t turn. So, what do you do?”

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “Overall I would say today was a good day for NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing.  We definitely have our work cut out for us with our qualifying position being in the back, but we used today to work on some different strategies that will help to get us closer to the front.  I had a bit of a setback when my front wing was damaged from debris from Kurt Busch hitting the wall, but the crew worked really hard to make sure I got back out there to at least finish the session with some more laps.  We didn’t get near as many laps in as some guys did today, but I think we got some really good data we can use to better the car even more for Sunday.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Ganassi Racing Chevrolet):  “It was a little different running the Monday after qualifying, usually this is when we’re doing media, but I think it was really good for the team.  We did a lot of really effective full-tank running and I think we have a really good race car in the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet.  Now we’ll just tune it up and tweak it a little for Carb Day and look over a few more test items on our list.  I’m excited we were able to put the new Chevrolet engine in and I’m really looking forward to Race Day.”  

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Preferred Freezer/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “I feel good about everything right.  It was good to get in 95 laps today, almost a half race distance.  I think we thought it was going to close on how much downforce we could take off the car.  But we worked hard today in finding the right mechanical setup.  We ran around quite a bit in traffic and that was very useful.  Ed didn’t get in as many laps as we did, so hopefully he can take some things from our runs that will be valuable to the No. 20.  We will be ready to hit the track as soon as it goes green on Carb Day.  In the past, I haven’t really run too hard on Carb Day.  Let’s get some pit stop practice and a few laps.  Especially with the limited run time we have had this week, I think we’ll run a good amount of laps.  In the last few years, it has been a giant pack of cars the entire race and Carb Day might be the only time you get a realistic feel for what the race will be like.  So I will be pushing to run quite a number of laps on Friday.  The team has done a fantastic job so far with our qualifying runs.  But it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t have good race cars.  Ed and the team learned that last year.  So we’ll continue to work on our setups.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “It wasn’t a good day for us after a great day Sunday.  I just glad that the little problems we had today didn’t come up Sunday.  We were chasing some electrical issues most of the day.  But we got them sorted later this afternoon.  The car felt good early in the session.  Just wish we would have run more laps.  I’m very glad that JR ran 95 laps and his car was good.  I got one race run in and it very really good.  So I am happy with that.  Disappointing because I wanted to do a lot more work but I feel good about the race car now.  My engineer Matt Barnes said maybe this stuff happened today and now we don’t have to touch car because it is good right now.”
***
The final on-track practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series is at 11 a.m. on Coors Light Carb Day on May 25.
 

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Daily Trackside Report - Monday, May 19
 
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