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Indianapolis 500

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Dragon Racing and Lotus have parted ways.

They will apparently use Chevrolet engines. I think Bourdais will be a real factor. I think Legge will still suck.

http://www.indystar....|IndyStar.com|s

For those following the series as a whole, there's no word whatsoever on how Dreyer & Reinbold, Bryan Herta Autosport, and Dragon are going to race beyond Indy. They don't have engine leases after that, but I think it is suggested that with the Panther alliance, D&RR will continue on.

I also wonder, if Chevrolet only has one extra engine, if one of the Dragon drivers is this "driver parting from his/her team."

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Have to say what a complete mess it all seems. Some teams with no engines, some teams changing engine suppliers, loads of cars having engine related problems during a weekend...

I guess it was bound to be like this after years with the same package, and now everything's so new. I hope they get things sorted eventually.

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The only way to sort it? Do nothing.

IndyCar should have no role whatsoever in these changes. Engine leasing is the dumbest system I've ever heard of. Let them run whatever they want and if Ilmor and HPD want to play favorites amongst their own, who cares? Dig deep and earn it like Penske and Ganassi have. Not happy? Switch.

IndyCar over-regulated themselves into a mess.

But it's the Indy 500. Just get my guys in good cars. :P

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The gloves are off. Dragon suing Lotus for $4,600,000.

Some tidbits:

Remember that contractual dispute pre-season? Dragon alleges that Lotus would not deliver the engine to them unless they paid "substantial" amounts of money. We knew that. However, Lotus was apparently already $1,000,000 in debt to Dragon at the time.

Dragon paid $500,000 to get their engine despite this.

Dragon allege that Lotus damaged the team's reputation by making false claims that the contract dispute was over a lack of payment on Dragon's part.

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How fast will they go at Indy?

A small indication of average speed at the Texas Motor Speedway test:

Dixon first at 212.371, Carpenter in second at 210.078, Kimball and Franchitti above 209, Rahal and Power above 208, Conway alone in the 207 range, Castroneves and Briscoe above 206, and Barrichello making his oval debut tenth out of ten with a 204.772.

215.286 was last year's pole time at Texas. Slowest was just a tick over 211. So these cars are slow. But we knew that.

Using IndyCar's distance of 1.455 miles at Texas, the track record for open wheel: 232.366 mph. However, that was too fast. 2001 CART race. Canceled. Drivers getting vertigo and blacking out due to the G-forces. I'm cool with not breaking track records. We haven't in years. I'm cool with not having pack racing, too.

Good news, at least, is that they're still faster than NASCAR...

...barely.

Rubens Barrichello was only two seconds clear of Brian Vickers' lap record at Texas.

For the record, 1.5 miles is a more accepted measure of TMS. At a buck-and-a-half, 239.553 mph is the CART record, and Scott Dixon did a 218.921. Regardless, Dixon would have qualifed 21st for the 2011 race.

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They've gone from 215 to 212? The drivers must feel like they are crawling.

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How fast will they go at Indy?

A small indication of average speed at the Texas Motor Speedway test:

Dixon first at 212.371, Carpenter in second at 210.078, Kimball and Franchitti above 209, Rahal and Power above 208, Conway alone in the 207 range, Castroneves and Briscoe above 206, and Barrichello making his oval debut tenth out of ten with a 204.772.

215.286 was last year's pole time at Texas. Slowest was just a tick over 211. So these cars are slow. But we knew that.

Using IndyCar's distance of 1.455 miles at Texas, the track record for open wheel: 232.366 mph. However, that was too fast. 2001 CART race. Canceled. Drivers getting vertigo and blacking out due to the G-forces. I'm cool with not breaking track records. We haven't in years. I'm cool with not having pack racing, too.

Good news, at least, is that they're still faster than NASCAR...

...barely.

Rubens Barrichello was only two seconds clear of Brian Vickers' lap record at Texas.

For the record, 1.5 miles is a more accepted measure of TMS. At a buck-and-a-half, 239.553 mph is the CART record, and Scott Dixon did a 218.921. Regardless, Dixon would have qualifed 21st for the 2011 race.

No he wouldn't have....he would have been in one of them there faster cars :P :P

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:lol: The good news is that Dixon and Briscoe believe the cars can't just stick to the track like they used to, and that even qualifying will be a challenge. Both suspect that there will be a lot more setup options, and a lot more changes over the course of a run. If it makes the racing better, I'll survive.

But that's Texas, not Indy, and I really only care about the 500.

Track goes green Thursday for Rookie Orientation. Other drivers who aren't rookies are allowed to have a refresher (I need a refresher on the eligibility rules myself). I'm not sure what speeds you need to set to pass ROP. They haven't said, but it's really interesting this year because:

1) A rookie in a Lotus is only going to be able to break a certain speed and it's not very high.

2) They have no idea what kind of times they can really do at Indy.

3) They aren't going to let anyone fail ROP. They never do but especially not this year with just 33 entries. They'll give them unlimited boost if they have to.

Drivers who are expected to be participating:

6. Katherine Legge (contingent on an engine happening)

7. Sébastien Bourdais (refresher contingent on engine happening, last raced in 2005)

8. Rubens Barrichello

19. James Jakes (passed last year, but didn't race, and is therefore a rookie)

30. Michel Jourdain, Jr. (refresher, last raced in 1996)

39. Bryan Clauson

41. Wade Cunningham

64. Jean Alesi (contingent on reality not happening)

67. Josef Newgarden

77. Simon Pagenaud

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All practice sessions not aired on NBC Sports Network will be streamed live on the IndyCar/IMS websites. This includes Thursday's rookie orientation I believe. Official streaming has been, in the past, a bit of an adventure.

Qualifying sessions and the race will not be streamed (officially...obviously there will be illegal streams showing up, there always are) as they will air in the United States on the NBC Sports Network (qualifying) and ABC (the race). I believe all international TV broadcasts are on various ESPN derivatives as Disney holds exclusive rights to the 500. I only know the U.S. (ABC) and Canada (TSN) off the top of my head. I don't think qualifying is aired internationally.

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Martina McBride will perform the national anthem. This is a good choice. The reasoning was that she'd sing it the way it's supposed to be sung. I'm glad the people at IMS get it. I hate hearing artists put themselves above the song and mutilating it.

The Jean Alesi thing is really happening. He probably doesn't have to worry about qualifying, since I don't see them getting over 33 cars. Truthfully, we're at 30. No one has ever confirmed Bryan Herta Autosport as having an engine, and Dragon Racing officials are still in conversation with Chevrolet about getting engines for their cars (they may only secure one).

Roger Penske has said he has not been involved in getting a Chevrolet engine for Dragon, though Penske owns Ilmor, who make the engines, so...we'll see. Penske called Bourdais a "helluva driver" and hopes to see him at Indy. If they don't get to 33, Penske said he'd do the Speedway a favor and field a fourth car. I wonder if he'd put Bourdais in it. I wonder if he'd replace Briscoe with Bourdais for 2013...

Honda are going for fuel efficiency at Indy. Smart play. It's going to be a real battle I think between the two.

Lotus are expected to pull the plug after the 500. I wouldn't be surprised. Hell, even if they did it before! But I also don't see how Bryan Herta Autosport, Dragon, and HVM would get engines after the 500. Dreyer & Reinbold had to form a "strategic alliance" with Panther to secure an engine, after all. If Lotus leave, we will lose those teams, and those drivers, and all those jobs. Though I guess the more immediate issue is getting those teams engines for the 500 itself.

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If the very likely happens in Lotus leaving, then I would imagine the others would pick up either a Honda or Chev engine. As at May 1st, there are only so many engines and contracts available. As at June 1st, I think you'll find some engines are "found" and contracts inked.

The true field size is 26 cars, so 13 engines a piece is possible. Indy is the anomaly with the eleven rows of three.

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Honda said they will only carry one extra lease after Indy, which is supposed to be for the RLL second car but may go to Bryan Herta.

Chevrolet have no plans to extend past Dreyer & Reinbold.

Plans can change, but both have said any new engine leases after Indy would be substantially more expensive. The #7 car has no sponsorship at all (don't be fooled by the logos on it), other than TEAM money. Katherine Legge's car still has that shady business on the side. But the agreement for both Dragon and HVM was that they either get free engines or use Lotus' money to pay Lotus for engines. So Lotus was the big sponsor...and then never gave anyone any money. The point is: I don't think HVM could afford any engine leases if they opened up, and I don't really know if Dragon can get someone to carry two cars for them with the money they have.

But I really only care about the 500 so please, please, please get all these cars a one-off engine. I will not settle for having Tagliani and Bourdais sidelined.

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Rookie orientation:

Ten laps above 200 mph.

Fifteen laps above 205 mph.

Fifteen laps above 210 mph.

The first two stages must be completed tomorrow.

Good luck getting the Lotus above 210. I hope Alesi doesn't pass, truly, just to see how they would handle this. They're not going to tell the thirty-third car "no, please go home."

These times are a straight 5 mph drop from last year. With engines tuned way, way, waaaaaay up for qualifying last year, Tagliani scored at 227.472. If you take 5 off that, surprisingly enough, you get 222.472. If you go for a percentage (5 as a percentage of the 215), 222.183 mph would be the pole time. Depending on engine tuning, they may or may not hit that. I think 222 is very optimistic based on absolutely nothing but gut feeling.

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Streaming isn't happening but at least they have live timing.

Josef Newgarden is done with phases one and two (I guess you have to actually run between 200-205, and then between 205-210, and then over 210. Newgarden opened at 213 and was told by officials to slow it down). James Jakes has finished phase one; Jakes actually passed orientation last year.

Fastest so far: Newgarden at 213.673 mph. Jakes has done a 211.792. Barrichello 205.614. Cunningham 205.584. Pagenaud 201.161. Jourdain and Clauson are yet to go out.

Note that Katherine Legge and Sébastien Bourdais are not running. Dragon does not have an engine. Legge must pass orientation to run the Indy 500. Bourdais does not have to pass; he was just taking a refresher.

Jean Alesi has not made an appearance yet, either.

I'm not saying they won't get 33, but this is really messy.

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Jourdain did nine laps. No better than 197.950. That's getting into NASCAR territory.

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Jean Alesi is in the pits and ready to go. Fan Force United has made it. I think it's important to point out that the FFU ride really may have belonged to Shane Hmiel. Back when the team was called Alliance, they signed Hmiel to run in the Firestone Indy Lights Series, and Hmiel made it clear he really wanted to run the Indy 500 someday. Had it all worked out, Hmiel may have run Indy Lights with the team for a while, and gotten to debut here this year. Obviously, we'll never get to know, but it's something that hasn't been said a lot. Should've been Shane.

On a related note, if you're on Twitter, follow Shane Hmiel. I have no idea why he dislikes Juan Pablo Montoya so much, but his comments about JPM and NASCAR in general are hilarious.

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Newgarden and Jakes are pacing the field at 216.573 and 216.099 respectively. Not horrible. Still would like to see a bit more speed. Barrichello's in third turning his best laps of the day at 212.301. He's consistently in the 212s so I figure he's going to pass all three phases now. Cunningham's the only other driver to turn a lap over 210.

Alesi has yet to do a run; everyone else has. I can't wait to see a Lotus lap around the circuit.

Unofficially:

Newgarden: completed all three phases

Jakes: completed all three phases

Barrichello: through phases one and two

Cunningham: through phases one and two

Pagenaud: through phases one and two

Jourdain: I'm not sure how the refresher works...but he's on track again now so I guess he has unfinished business.

Clauson: nothing completed

Alesi: nothing completed

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Last year's top speed at orientation? 221.533 mph. So I guess IndyCar was right that times would be down 5 mph across the board.

Interesting note: James Jakes only broke 214 last year in rookie orientation. He's actually faster this year.

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Jean Alesi's fastest lap? 165.831. laugh.pngbiggrin.pnglaugh.png

NASCAR pole time is usually around 182. Lotus, Lotus, Lotus.

Meanwhile, Bryan Clauson got through phase one.

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So just who are the rookies?

Josef Newgarden comes from NASCAR country, but stock cars were never in his future. A talented kart racer, Newgarden moved to Skip Barber, where he was selected to represent his nation as part of the Team USA scholarship. He won the Formula Ford Festival in the Kent class, and then won two of the three Formula Palmer Audi races at Donington. He was second in the 2009 British Formula Ford championship with nine race victories, before an unsuccessful stint in GP3 led him back to America, where he won last year's Indy Lights title with Sam Schmidt. Articulate and personable, Newgarden is highly regarded as the next great talent of the IZOD IndyCar Series, ready to fill a decades-old void left by the retiring of drivers like Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, or Al Unser, Jr. After turning down an opportunity to return to Europe and pursue F1, Newgarden joined the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team, a small team built on family values by a pioneering businesswoman who just so happens to have won an IndyCar pole and score a few top three finishes. Dollar General is on board for this race, and with the team struggling for funding, a strong result for Newgarden could solidify the rest of their season. Rotondo Weirich is also on board; the modular housing company owns RW Motorsports, a USAC team that fields cars for Bobby Santos, Mario Clouser, and Newgarden's teammate, Bryan Clauson. They've also partnered with Shane Hmiel to field the RW56 team.

James Jakes, Rubens Barrichello, and Jean Alesi are all European racing washouts (I'm not saying that Newgarden isn't, but I actually know who he is). :P

Simon Pagenaud was almost one of the lost generation. So many young drivers have ended up in sports car racing, and not without reason. A driver who can't bring funding to an open-wheel team can usually rely on a pro-am co-driver to fund the ride, and get paid to be the number one on the team. Two drivers per seat makes finding a ride much easier on the sports car side. Pagenaud certainly impressed there, ALMS champion that he is, but he always belonged in IndyCar, having won the Atlantic Championship and placed solidly in the Panoz DP01 days of Champ Car. With last year's pole team (and a heavy influence on the winning team), Pagenaud looks to beat the 100:1 betting odds on him. He may not have oval experience, but he has great talent, and he's a racer's racer. In the last twelve months, he's been in an IndyCar, a few different LMP cars, a V8 Supercar, the last generation Dallara, and a Pacific Formula F. He'll drive it all, and do damn well.

Wade Cunningham has won the Freedom 100 support race three times, but missed out on last year's 500, opting instead to do three races for Sam Schmidt Motorsports with his funding. Cunningham's long been rumored to have personality issues, not blending in well with teams, and being hard to work with. If that's true, his new team owner A.J. Foyt will set him straight (probably with a hammer). Foyt's been to victory lane at Indy a few times himself, four as a driver and once as an owner. That year, Kenny Bräck was his driver, another young, perhaps un-Foyt-like driver, winning as Robby Gordon ran out of fuel on the race's final lap. Bräck and Foyt remain good friends today, and Cunningham would certainly like to be on Super Tex's good side.

And that brings us to Bryan Clauson. He caught the attention of Chip Ganassi once, but not for IndyCar racing. For NASCAR. Clauson can win in any kind of sprint car or midget you put him in. Dirt, pavement, doesn't matter. He'll get the job done, and he'll do it with class and professionalism. Young, American, talented. Perfect candidate for the stock car ranks. Driving for Ganassi at the age of 18, he won an ARCA race at Gateway, and scored a top five result at Kentucky the following year in the Nationwide division. But his sponsor saw a different opportunity, one with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s JR Motorsports team, before moving on to Roush-Fenway Racing and Carl Edwards. Why take a chance on high-risk, low-reward prospects when you get the exposure of being linked to one of the sport's most popular stars? Clauson was left back on the dirt tracks in the Midwest, not a bad place to be, but the NASCAR era was over. If Randy Bernard leaves any kind of legacy on IndyCar, it's hopefully Clauson: Bernard decided it was time to reconnect IndyCar to its birthplace, and offered an Indy Lights scholarship to the USAC national champion (over races from all three USAC classes). That driver was Clauson, and last season, he raced the ovals for Sam Schmidt. Now the scholarship has taken him to the 500, and team owner Sarah Fisher, a sprint car racer herself, wants to run Clauson for the rest of the ovals, too. He's backed by CURB Records, who have always had a huge presence in auto racing, and the aforementioned RW. A sprint car driver at Indy. A kid not giving up and getting his second chance. All is right in the world.

Can rookies make an impact at the 500? Yeah, but usually with the wall. Hildebrand crashed while leading in the final corner last year. Both Tony Kanaan and Tomas Scheckter crashed out of the race lead as rookies in a wild 2002 race; Scheckter led the most laps that year and again in 2003. I'm not sure if anyone has ever led the most laps in his/her first two Indy 500s. Kanaan led 23 that day; Scheckter was just 28 laps from the finish when his race ended. Another 2002 rookie? Laurent Rédon. His lap 199 wreck brought out the caution that led to the controversial victory of Hélio Castroneves over Paul Tracy.

Hélio Castroneves himself won the race as a rookie in 2001, and again in 2002. Juan Montoya (pre-Pablo era for him) took it in his inaugural (and only) race in 2000. Prior to those two, Graham Hill was the last rookie winner in 1966, preceded by George Souders, Frank Lockhart, René Thomas, and Jules Goux. Ray Harroun won the first race, so he was technically a rookie, but so was everyone else. Louis Meyer's 1928 win can be counted; however, he raced in 1927 as a relief driver (back then, it was common for a pair of drivers to run the 500-mile race. Ray Harroun himself had a reliever).

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Barrichello has passed orientation.

Jourdain has completed his refresher.

Pagenaud and Cunningham have one phase left. Clauson is in the 213s so I think he has one left, as well. Scratch that, Clauson on the board at 214.975 mph. Kid's flying. Never been in an IndyCar before, and barely has an Indy Lights races under his belt! Make that 216.291, second fastest of the day behidn his teammate. This guy's good!

Pagenaud cracks 214.

Alesi hit 175.402. Back to the pits. He would have won the pole for the NASCAR Brickyard 400 in 1994. Barely.

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Clauson to the top of the boards, 217.046 mph. Do you believe it?! This guy's for real. Let's do this for all the guys in USAC, all the kids in grassroots racing. Make a huge impression and let the team owners know it's time to take a look at all these real oval racers out there. Wow!

James Jakes heads out now; he's done but may as well make use of the track time.

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Pagenaud is clear of phase three. He's passed. Clauson probably had a tow from Pagenaud on that 217+; he's back at 215.858 in single-car runs but that is still mighty, mighty quick for today. I assume Clauson's through in a couple laps.

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