After losing a day of practice to rain, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway re-opened for business on Tuesday, with teams and drivers quickly getting down to business of turning laps around the famed 2.5-mile oval.
Dialing in race setups was the objective for most teams on a chilly day not conducive to big speed, with the focus turning to qualification simulations the next few days in preparation for the two-stage run for the pole. With the almost five hours available for the session, a few things began to come into focus – primarily that the competition is exceptionally close.
• Five different teams were represented in the top five on the speed chart.
• The top 21 drivers were separated by 0.5755sec.
• No. 1 (Scott Dixon) and No. 36 (Milka Duno) were separated by 1.197sec.
• Drivers pounded out 1,590 laps (of a total for three days of 3,562).
Last year was the closest field in the history of the 500, at 3.0967sec. That record might not last long.
Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, posted a quick lap of 39.7265sec (226.549mph) on the 2.5-mile oval. Mario Moraes was second quick (225.913mph) in the No. 32 KV Racing Technology entry, and Marco Andretti in the No. 26 Team Venom Energy car for Andretti Autosport was next at 225.751.
The checkered flag flew eight minutes early after the No. 8 PDVSA KV Racing Technology car of E.J. Viso made contact with the SAFER Barrier at the exit of Turn 1. He was transported to Methodist Hospital complaining of back pain.
• Rahal Letterman Racing continues to impress with Graham Rahal at the wheel of the No. 30 Quick Trim/RLR Special. Rahal reeled off his fastest lap of the day just eight trips into his afternoon session, then spent the rest of the afternoon analyzing various changes in preparation for Saturday's Pole Day qualifying.
“The car feels good, It's very consistent and it feels really good in traffic so far,” Graham said after carding a best lap of 40.2912sec (223.429mph). “We did our fast lap early in the day and then we just went to work on trying some changes and tweaking little things to fine-tune the car.”
The team ran 45 laps around the 2.5-mile oval Tuesday, after turning 43 on Sunday.
“I think we showed up and the car was already pretty close to where we wanted to be, so now we are just trying to perfect a few things,” Rahal reported. “We have done a great job in taking our time so far and making sure we are doing things the right way. We are still being pretty conservative on the downforce and the aero settings, probably more than most teams out here. The Firestone Firehawks have held up great for us, which has allowed us to conserve tires for the week as well. You can burn through tires pretty quick here if you're spending a lot of time on track running in the draft. We have done a great job trying to stay ahead of that.”
• Andersen Racing has signed Arie Luyendyk Jr. to be Carmen Jorda's teammate in the Firestone Freedom 100 Firestone Indy Lights race Friday, May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Luyendyk, 28,is the son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk. He has 62 career Firestone Indy Lights starts, with one victory. He started the 2006 Indianapolis 500. His best finish in the Firestone Freedom 100 is third in 2004.
"I am thrilled to be back in a racecar, especially at Indianapolis," Luyendyk said. "I have known Dan and John Andersen of Andersen Racing since my days in USF2000. I have always had a great relationship with them over the years, and now I'll finally have an opportunity to drive one of their cars. Indianapolis means more to me than I can express. I've come back to win, and I'm confident that Andersen Racing will give me a car that can make that a reality."
• Thousands of iRacing.com members worldwide will race in the iRacing.com Indy 500 on Saturday, May 29, the day before "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" at IMS. Part of the iRacing.com World Tour, PC simulation racers will compete in 33-car fields for 200 laps in exact digital duplicates of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval Dallara IZOD IndyCar Series cars. Racers will be matched by skill level, experience and qualifying times.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IZOD IndyCar Series formed an official partnership with iRacing in 2009. IMS is one of more than 40 racetracks in the U.S. and around the world that are represented in the iRacing.com internet-based motorsport simulation service. The service is inexpensive and intended to let motorsport fans and racing games enthusiasts from all around the world practice and, if they wish, compete against friends and other fans in organized races. The tracks and cars in the service are modeled so accurately that a professional racing driver can use them to learn a track he or she has never seen before.
Survey-quality laser-scanning is used to capture data, so the finished track is accurate to within 2 millimeters. Every tiny bump or change in road camber is accurately represented in the virtual version of the track. Scanning of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and photographic documentation took nearly six eight-hour days, while another four months were spent by iRacing.com's production department converting the data into an exact replica of the legendary 101-year-old racetrack.
Indy 500 drivers who are iRacing.com members include Justin Wilson, Will Power, Ryan Briscoe, Vitor Meira, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dan Wheldon, Tomas Scheckter, Danica Patrick, Mike Conway, Raphael Matos, A.J. Foyt IV, Takuma Sato and Simona de Silvestro.
"It's every racer's dream to compete in the Indy 500. There is just no other race like it," said Kevin Bobbett, director of marketing for iRacing.com. "The World Tour lets every one of our more than 20,000 members compete in any or all of 15 of auto racing's signature events, but it's hard to think of another race that exceeds the historic significance or pure thrill of the Indy 500. iRacers won't have to just wonder what it's like to funnel into the first turn of the Indy 500 coping with the turbulence of 32 other cars in close proximity – they'll know first-hand.
"We have a special promotion that includes the Dallara-Honda Indy car and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, along with the regular rookie package of cars and tracks, plus a three-month membership. Anyone interested in getting in on the fun can check it out at http://www.iracing.com/indy-500-2010/."