Okay, I’m sorry I’m late throwing this on the site, but I just got back from trying to get old people addicted to energy drinks. All part of the day’s work.
After practice and some media stuff, I got back to my bus this evening to find there was a huge delivery from my Monster Energy sponsors – I reckon there were about 40 cases of drink there. So tonight we’ve been doing the rounds all around the track, giving Monster drinks to all the yellow-shirts who work here. Can’t help but notice a lot of them seem to be in their 60s and 70s, so we’re trying to see if we can get them pumped up. Some of them have got to sit in the cold and rain all night, freezing their butts off, watching over the track, so we’ve got them tanked up on Monster to keep them awake.
I suppose tomorrow I need to go and promote my other personal sponsors. Maybe we can go and give the yellow-shirts some wheels from CEC and some Whipple superchargers so they all go home and pimp their Oldsmobiles.
Anyway, just wanted you to know why I’m late. Today started off perfectly, because I woke with my lovely wife Patty next to me, which was much needed, because I’d been without her for a week. That kind of a wake-up call helps to make living in a bus in Indianapolis worthwhile.
When we went to the gym in the morning, it was dense fog and I thought things looked a bit shaky as far as when we’d be able to get on track. But the track dried up, and I guess we got out there about 11am, and took our first stage of downforce off. There were a lot of cars on track – Andretti Green, Penske and so on were doing some drafting, so the times were jumping up pretty quick. Our priority was trying to find some clear running and working on a qualifying setup.
The atmosphere was heavy and thick and the track was very, very green because it rained like crazy
at about 3 a.m. (yeah, before you ask, the bus stayed watertight, but I’m too busy to take a bow, ladies and gentlemen). So the track had all its rubber washed off and when we took our first stage of downforce off, and made a few other adjustments, we kind of missed our aero percentage – that means the downforce ratio between front and rear – by about 1.5 percent. We had it set a little bit too far forward for the track and atmospheric conditions…
Can you see what’s coming? Yeah, that’s right: a huge tail-out slide coming off of Turn 1 on my first flyer. Not a great start. That could have been an interesting way to promote GEICO car insurance, huh?
So we back-pedaled on our setup a bit, and went back to getting it on the safe side of fast. It probably meant we weren’t as quick as we wanted to be, but I just wanted to get my legs back under me and not have the car swinging out sideways on corner exits. After that settling down, we started trimming out some more, and doing some runs completely alone.
The conclusion? The KV Racing No. 15 car isn’t the fastest one, but we’re not bad, either. I wrote the other night about our goal being to qualify on Saturday – in other words, be a top 11 car. I think we’re right on the cusp. Look at the time sheets today and you can see the animals are kinda marching in two by two – two Penskes, two Ganassis, two AGR, and so on. To be blunt, it’s shaken out to being how much money each team is spending.
Then the drizzle came on and off, but we got out one more time and we had a pretty strong run with another stage of downforce off. We’ve got one more level to go – low-drag bits and some of your usual tricks for qualifying (no, I can’t reveal them). Our gut feeling is that we can run a 223mph lap alone which we reckon will put us in that top 11 on the first day.
We didn’t go out for the last hour today for a couple of reasons. By then, it was dead calm, no wind, the air was thick and it was overcast, and we don’t think it’s anything like what we’re gonna see tomorrow. The forecast is high winds, 17mph at 9am, 25mph-plus in the afternoon. We haven’t had any wind to deal with this week, so we decided to save a couple of sets of tires to do some mock qualifying runs tomorrow in morning practice with more representative winds and track conditions.
Our draw for our qualifying run puts us near the end of the day, and I think my teammate Mario [Moraes] is pretty near the start of the day, so who that works out for, I don’t know.
Anyway, finishing up early left me a bit of extra time to do some media work. I did a long interview with Jack Arute from Versus TV, all about the 2002 Indy 500. Anyone who knows me even a little bit is aware that it’s one of my favorite and also least favorite subjects. You’ll be shocked to learn that Penske and Helio Castroneves’ stance on it is that it’s all in the past, they’re through with talking about it, and they don’t wish to comment on anything about it. Me? Well, I’ve got to admit I’m playing the ’02 card quite highly – check out the next issue of RACER
magazine, for example – and the TV guys today wanted to talk about it in-depth, too. Well, I only did what I was asked, so enjoy the show, guys.
Then it was dinner with my other KV Racing teammate, Townsend Bell, who is the master planner of trying to find sponsorship dollars, and then Kevin K called from a different restaurant where he and Jimmy were eating, so I dropped in there too.
Tomorrow, the IRL have divided the first practice session in half, according to when your draw is, so the No. 15 GEICO car’s in the second half. Then everyone’s on track together for another hour-long session, and then it’s qualifying. It’s going to be interesting, because up to now, I’ve been starting each day with the car setup the same as how I left it the previous evening. Tomorrow’s different: we’re going in on a fact-finding mission.
But hey, KV Racing’s pretty sharp and so am I. We know what we’re doing.P.T.[Subscribe to RACER before May 26 in order to start your subscription with the July issue, which includes an exclusive, no-holds-barred Paul Tracy interview. - Ed.]Click here for P.T.’s blog for Tuesday through Thursday