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Daily Trackside Report - Thursday, July 24

Welcome to the 2014 Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The event consists of the Brickyard Grand Prix for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the Brickyard Sports Car Challenge for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge on Friday, July 25, the Lilly Diabetes 250 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series on Saturday, July 26, and the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on Sunday, July 27.

Notes, quotes, trivia and historical information and other items will appear on these pages through Sunday, July 27. Our Media Center staff is here to assist you and answer your questions during this event.

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TODAY’S ON-TRACK SCHEDULE (all times local):
9-10:30 a.m. Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Practice
10:45-12:15 a.m. TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Practice (All Classes)
12:30-1:30 p.m. Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Practice
1:45-2:45 p.m. TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Practice (All Classes)
3:00-3:15 p.m. Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge - ST Qualifying
3:30-3:45 p.m. Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge – GS Qualifying
4:00-4:15 p.m. TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – GTD Qualifying
4:20-4:35 p.m. TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – GTLM Qualifying
4:45-5 p.m. TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – PC Qualifying  
5:05-5:20 p.m. TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – P Qualifying

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Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard information is available on the Web this week on the official Indianapolis Motor Speedway site, www.ims.com, the official NASCAR site, www.nascar.com, and the official TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge site, www.imsa.com. Included will be practice and qualifying results, performance histories, Daily Trackside Reports, driver quotes, race lineups and results.

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Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson could become just the second five-time winner of a major race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a victory Sunday in the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com.

Michael Schumacher became the first five-time winner when he captured the 2006 United States Grand Prix. Schumacher won the USGP in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Gordon and Johnson are tied with four-time Indianapolis 500 winners A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears on the IMS win list. Gordon won the Brickyard 400 in 1994, 1998, 2001 and 2004. Johnson won in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012.

Foyt won the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, 1964, 1967 and 1977; Unser won the “500” in 1970, 1971, 1978 and 1987; Mears won the “500” in 1979, 1984, 1988 and 1991.

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There are 191 race cars at IMS this weekend for four races. An entry breakdown:
Sprint Cup: 46
Nationwide: 41
TUDOR United SportsCar Championship: 49 (11 Prototype, 10 Prototype Challenge, 10 GT Le Mans, 18 GT Daytona)
Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge: 55 (23 GS, 32 ST)

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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course has been reconfigured for this year’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. The new course is 2.435 miles with 14 turns, compared to last year’s 2.534 miles with 13 turns.

Last year marked the first time in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history that activity was held on the oval and road course on the same day. That will happen again on Friday when NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup teams practice, followed by the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race and the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s Brickyard Grand Prix.

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Seven drivers from this year’s Indianapolis 500 are participating in the Kroger Super Weekend at The Brickyard.

Juan Pablo Montoya, the 2000 Indianapolis 500 champion, and Kurt Busch are entered in the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com, while Townsend Bell, James Davison, Jack Hawksworth, Sage Karam and Martin Plowman are entered in the Brickyard Grand Prix.

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Ten drivers will attempt to race in the Lilly Diabetes 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race and the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com: Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch, Landon Cassill, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, David Ragan and Josh Wise.

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Darrell Wallace Jr. won the Mudsummer Classic NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Wednesday night at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. It was his second win of the season and third in his career.

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A ribbon-cutting ceremony, held on July 1, marked the opening of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Solar Farm located adjacent to the backstretch of the famed IMS 2.5-mile oval. The facility, billed as the largest solar power farm at any sporting venue in the world, is built on 68 acres and features 39,314 solar panels that can power the equivalent of 2,700 homes. The initiative dovetails with the NASCAR Green, which boasts the three largest green programs in sports: renewable energy, recycling and clean air. With its debut, the Indy facility joins similar solar farms at Pocono Raceway and Sonoma Raceway, which also host the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Actor Chris Pratt – star of the soon-to-be-released movie “Guardians of the Galaxy” – will serve as honorary pace car driver in a 2014 red and silver Chevrolet SS pace car for the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com on Sunday, July 27.

Chevrolet has a long history of pacing races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and has served as the pace car for every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race held at the famed track (1994-present).

CHRIS PRATT: “It’s a dream come true to drive the pace car for the John Wayne Walding 400. I am really excited to be part of NASCAR for the day.”

JIM CAMPBELL, Chevrolet U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports: “This year marks the 20th anniversary of NASCAR racing at the Brickyard, and it is truly special that Chevrolet has been there from the beginning racing and pacing. It will be great to have Chris Pratt lead the field of 43 competitors to the green flag in the Chevrolet SS pace car.”

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A Chevrolet will pace every race during the Kroger Super Weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In addition to leading the field with the Chevrolet SS in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, Chevrolets will pace with the Camaro ZL1 in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, Corvette convertible in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Brickyard Grand Prix and Camaro 1LE in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lilly Diabetes 250.

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The TUDOR SportsCar Championship is making its first visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and its Daytona Prototype and GT teams previously competed at the Brickyard in 2012 and 2013, this will be the first visit for former American Le Mans Series P2, Prototype Challenge and factory-supported GT teams.

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Verizon IndyCar Series regular Jack Hawksworth is making his third appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. He finished seventh on the IMS road course in the Indianapolis Grand Prix and 20th in the Indianapolis 500. The Englishman is back on the road course, driving the No. 08 AutomaxUSA.com Chevrolet in the PC class of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

JACK HAWKSWORTH: “This is a great track; I really enjoy this track. The car feels pretty good; I’m excited about our prospects. We’re going through the Christmas tree, checking everything out. The road course is exactly the same as it was in May. The Indy car was a lot faster, you have a bit more downforce, better braking, faster on the straights. The prototype has a lot of grip and you can feel the power. It’s a good formula to drive.

The 1995 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, Christian Fittipaldi, is driving the No. 5 Action Express Racing Chevrolet in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. He finished 14th in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Indianapolis Grand Prix last year.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI: “It’s definitely great to be back (at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) with all of the history that there is here. It’s always good to run strong here. The (road courses) changes are all positive. The track has a ton more grip than what it had last year. It’s back to a normal grip. It’s back to how these cars feel normally every weekend. Last year, it was a little bit awkward when we were here because it seemed like we were on ice the whole time. We were sliding all over the place. I think they did an awesome job on the track in general. All of the changes they did, in my opinion, are very positive. The car felt good. I think there are a couple of areas that we can do better here and there. In general, if felt good. We’re happy. We have what we have and we need to make the best with what we have. I feel very confident for the race.”

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Sage Karam, who finished ninth as a 19-year-old rookie in the 2014 Indianapolis 500, is teaming with Scott Pruett in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Telcel Riley DP in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Karam is substituting for the injured Memo Rojas.

SAGE KARAM: “It’s always great to be racing around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway taking in its historic value and how many people have raced here. This is my first time actually racing on the road course. I practiced on the old road course, so I was getting my first laps on the new one today. It’s going pretty well. I’m still learning the sports car but also I’m learning the track, so it’s a double whammy there. But the car’s not bad. I think we still have some work to do. But we’re running those leaders down; every minute, every lap we get a little bit closer. I think it’s going to be a fun race.” (What’s different for you driving this car compared to an Indy car?): “With sports cars, there are so many people out there and so much stuff going on. You’ve got slower cars, faster cars; you always have to be on your A-game looking around and be really dialed-in. With the Indy car on the oval here, it’s just all about being smooth and consistent. In the Indy 500, starting all the way in the back I had to be in attack mode the whole time. I was always attacking and trying to make up positions. With this, it’s trying to be a bit more patient and make your moves work. It takes a little bit longer I think to make some passes on some of the leaders.” (On his plans for the rest of the racing season.): “I don’t really know right now. My season’s kind of been all over the place this year. For the most part of it, just be a development driver. I actually didn’t know I was going to be racing in this until two days ago. That just shows it could happen so fast and you never know. Hopefully, I can get back into an Indy car at some point this year.”

Verizon IndyCar Series driver Martin Plowman is driving in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship for BAR1 Motorsports in the No. 88 of the PC class. Plowman finished 23rd in the 2014 Indianapolis 500.

MARTIN PLOWMAN: “This is my third race now with BAR1 Motorsports and I am definitely jelling with the team. I love the atmosphere here in Indianapolis. It’s always good to be back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s not the month of May, but anytime you are out on the track here, it is a good day. I love the diversity. It’s always strange when you are going down the front stretch the wrong way, but it is just great to be racing here. We rolled off the truck and the car was very good. We were close on the setup already. We definitely did our homework. It helped that I had raced here before to try and give the engineers some kind of understanding of what to expect. We made some adjustments from our base setup and so far it has been good.”

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Fourteen-time Indianapolis 500 starter Scott Sharp is back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to compete in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The 2001 Indy 500 polesitter drives the No. 1 Patron HPD ARX-03b Prototype for Extreme Speed Motorsports. This will be Sharp’s first race on the IMS road course.

SCOTT SHARP: “Yeah, it’s great to be back, it really is. For me, personally, I have so many fond memories. There’s been a lot of time I’ve spent here over my career. For me, it’s always special when you’ve been away and drive under the tunnel and you pop up inside the track. It’s a feeling you get like no other.” (On how the new course suits his style): “It’s going really well. This is the first time I’ve been here. I never ran on the old road course to compare it to. But it seems to be much racier and much more passing opportunities than the old track. We couldn’t start off much better. We came and tested and not everybody did, so we had a little bit of an advantage. We typically are pretty quick in practice and sometimes pretty quick in qualifying. Our Achilles heel this year has been that there are so many different classes racing at once, we suffer in traffic. We’re down on torque to the Daytona Prototypes. We have to slow down for traffic, they can really launch off the corner and just blow by the traffic. And we’re sort of drag racing the traffic down into the next corner, and we lose a lot of time. But so far it’s going well, and we’re going to make the best of it.” (Is that the distinct difference with sports car racing compared to other series: fine-tuning your car to not only be the best in class but also to be able to race and cope with the challenges of other classes of cars on track?): “You got it, no question; you’re really balancing a car that’s knife-edge quick with a car that’s very pliable with whatever happens in front of you, because stuff happens constantly. You have four different classes out here, 55 cars. There’s all kinds of stuff happening right in front of you: crashes, cars colliding, people just stopping suddenly. You have to make a lot of evasive actions. When you have a very edgy, fast car sometimes it doesn’t do so well in those quick moves. You really have to blend it.”

CONTINENTAL TIRE SPORTSCAR CHALLENGE QUALIFYING:
At 3 p.m., the ambient temperature was 74 degrees with a relative humidity of 46 degrees and north winds at 8 mph. Skies were partly cloudy.
3 p.m. – GREEN. ST qualifying begins.
3:15 p.m. – CHECKERED. End of session. #04 Adam Isman wins pole in ST class for Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge with best lap of 1:39.318.
3:30 p.m. – GREEN. GS qualifying begins.
3:45 p.m. – CHECKERED. End of session. #9 Matt Bell wins pole in GS class for Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge with best lap of 1:34.221.

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TUDOR UNITED SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING:
At 4 p.m., the ambient temperature was 74 degrees with a relative humidity of 46 degrees and north winds at 10 mph. Skies were partly cloudy.
4 p.m. – GREEN. GTD qualifying begins.
4:15 p.m. – CHECKERED. End of session. #94 Dane Cameron wins pole in GTD class for Brickyard Grand Prix with best lap of 1:26.058.
4:20 p.m. – GREEN. GTLM qualifying begins.
4:35 p.m. – CHECKERED. End of session. #62 Giancarlo Fisichella wins pole in GTLM class for Brickyard Grand Prix with best lap of 1:22.378.
4:45 p.m. – GREEN. PC qualifying begins.
5 p.m. – CHECKERED. End of session. #54 Colin Braun wins pole in PC class for Brickyard Grand Prix with best lap of 1:19.849.
5:05 p.m. – GREEN. P qualifying begins.
5:20 p.m. – CHECKERED. End of session. #1 Ryan Dalziel wins pole in P class for Brickyard Grand Prix with best lap of 1:17.603.

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CONTINENTAL TIRE SPORTS CAR CHALLENGE QUALIFYING QUOTES:

ADAM ISMAN (No. 04 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche Cayman, ST polewinner): “We definitely have more momentum, we missed the pole by a fraction of a second at Kansas and at Mosport, so it’s nice to get a pole here. This is my first time here; this is an incredible facility. Just all the history – you can feel it. We get to be here on the same day (Friday) with NASCAR on the track.” (On qualifying run): “The track felt really good. We were quickest in practice but only by a little bit. We made a couple of changes after the last practice. The changes we made definitely helped and will help us in the race. We weren’t off at all; we were quickest. We felt like the car had a little bit of understeer so we dialed that out.  I can’t say enough about my team, Autometrics Motorsports; they worked really hard and gave me an awesome, awesome car for qualifying.” (On winning the pole at Indy): “That’s awesome!”    

MATT BELL (No. 46 Stevenson Automotive Group Camaro Z28, GS polewinner): “It's been awhile (on the pole). A couple years ago I used to get poles all the time, so a slump like that is frustrating. But this one wasn't as much my doing as it was Team Chevy. They built an awesome new Z28. It's very well-suited here. Stevenson Automotive Group set this thing up flawlessly and they have a great strategy behind us for the race. It was just kind of ‘run by the numbers’ really. I just went out and did what the car could do, I wasn't really pushing unduly, and I waited for the tires to come up. When the tires started to fall off, we pitted and hoped that that would be good enough for pole.” (On 2013 track vs. 2014): “I was here last year but this was the first time on the new configuration. With the new configuration, it’s a whole new race track now. There are very few parts of this track that are in common with the old track, and it’s very well-suited to the Z28.

CODY ELSWORTH (No. 50 BERG Racing Porsche Cayman, ST No. 2 qualifier): “I was a little disappointed. I thought we could grab the pole there. We knew the car was strong, we knew we had a good shot. Knock on wood, the car has been flawless all weekend, so we'll see if we can keep that going the rest of the weekend. The key is keeping the car clean through both stints, not get yourself in any trouble and just ride the race out.” (On Indy): “This is my first time here. I think it's a great track. When you come down the front straight, you look at that tower, you cross those bricks. It's very historical. It's cool to be able to be here.”

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TUDOR UNITED SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING QUOTES:

COLIN BRAUN (No. 54 CORE Autosport Chevrolet, PC polewinner): “I am really happy with the run. It was a really good lap. It’s cool to be on the pole here at Indy, for sure. I didn’t drive the old road course, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I thought it had good grip. I really enjoyed it. It was fun. I was pretty happy with the whole thing. It was a pretty straightforward session for us. I think the race will be exciting. Obviously, that’s the important one. The pole is nice but I am really looking forward to the race.”

JOHANNES VAN OVERBEEK (No. 2 Extreme Speed Motorsports Honda, Prototype No. 2 qualifier): “(Teammate and fast qualifier) Ryan (Dalziel) is a past winner here and he knows his way around here. The two Patron cars were 1-2 today on National Tequila Day. It was the best qualifying result for the team. It puts us in a good starting place for the race.” (On qualifying second): “I think we had him once out there, but the car just fell off more than I was expecting, lost a lot of grip in the rear. After that happened, we were just kind of hanging on. The race is another thing; we always do well in the race.”

GIANCARLO FISICHELLA (No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari, GTLM polewinner): “It’s certainly nice to be back here in Indianapolis. I got great memories here. I scored a podium with Formula One. It’s a great circuit. I’m really happy to be here and proud about the qualifying session. We’re on pole. (more on next page)

The shape of the circuit is different than a few years ago, but I like it. Our car performed (well) here. I feel comfortable and confident in the car. I did a perfect lap. I’m really proud of it.” (On what he thinks of the reconfigured track): “It looks nice. It’s difficult to say because driving with a Formula One car and driving with a GT (Le Mans) car is different. But I prefer the circuit the way it is now.”

RYAN DALZIEL (No. 1, Extreme Speed Motorsports Honda, Prototype polewinner): “We were really good in the first practice, but we didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t expect the track to be this hot this time of night or for the times to be done so early in the session, usually for us we keep plugging away. Had we reversed and gone back out we would have pushed even harder on those early laps. It was a good day – it’s National Tequila Day. We could not have asked for anything better. As a team we’ve had a rough couple of events. It seems like a long time from the successes of Sebring and Laguna Seca. We needed a good result today, and we need a better result tomorrow (Friday). We expected this to be the worst event of the year for us this year, fully prepared to get slaughtered pretty good, have a good reliable race and pick up some points. The resurfacing of the track and using the IndyCar layout obviously has helped. Today was a good result. It’s a long drive (race) and that’s a concern for us. If we can get to Turn 1, first or second, by the time we are on the front straight we could have a good gap. We’ll see how the race plays out.”

DANE CAMERON (No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW, GTD polewinner): “It’s very special to get my first pole here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I’ve dreamed of a chance to race here, let alone to have some success. To get my first pole position here is really special, and I’m really hoping to get a win tomorrow to cap it off.  The new (course) layout is great; it’s a lot of fun. There are some big curbs to jump over and that type of thing is always good for me. I always enjoy it. The grip is higher than it has been the last couple of years. I think the changes to the circuit really favor the strengths of our BMW Z4. We lack the top speed, so we were nervous coming here. We were pleasantly surprised with the updates to the track, and they seem to lend themselves to how our car drives. Now the hard work starts tomorrow. There are definitely a few more passing opportunities than in the past, and I know that was the goal.”

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 09 RSR Racing PC Chevrolet, No. 2 qualifier): “It was a good run. I had four or five laps 1 minute, 20 (seconds) flat, I couldn’t go below the 20. It was a very close qualifying. The team did a good job to improve the car from practice. The car wasn’t good. But the car was decent in qualifying, and I’m happy to start on the front row. This is the first time I’ve been here on the road course. I’ve always been on the oval for the Indy 500. It’s a very nice track, very nice pavement – very smooth. I like the track.”

FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local):
8 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Public Gates Open
8:30-10 a.m. NASCAR Nationwide Series Practice
10:30-11:25 a.m. NASCAR Nationwide Series Practice
11:35 a.m.-1 p.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup Practice
2:35-5:05 p.m. Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Race (Timed, 150 Minutes)
5:45-8:30 p.m. Brickyard Grand Prix (TUDOR United SportsCar Championship) Race (Timed, 165 Minutes)

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Daily Trackside Report - Thursday, July 24
 
Daily Trackside Report - Thursday, July 24
Welcome to the 2014 Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The event consists of the Brickyard Grand Prix for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the Brickyard Sports Car Challenge for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge on Friday, July 25, the Lilly Diabetes 250 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series on Saturday, July 26, and the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on Sunday, July 27.
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