Thursday, May 15, 2008

Back on Track at Indy: Practice May 15th

On a cold and blustery May day, the cars returned to the Speedway in earnest today, running over 2600 laps in the first full day of practice since Pole Day. With yesterday another virtual washout, I didn't miss much and I couldn't get out today until around 4 and man was it dark! The wind was brisk out of the east-northeast, and in Turn 3 today, it was right in your face. When I got there, the Andretti Green teammates were running race day setups in pairs, and were later joined by the Target boys. Scheckter ran a bunch of laps while I was there, and even Marty Roth ran some good laps above 219 around 5:45. Even today was cut short by "moisture in the air" around 5:55. You could see it coming though as the weather radar on the track's big video screens showed a clear "donut" in the rainy weather system that surrounded Indianapolis. But as so often happens in May at Indianapolis, it didn't rain at the Speedway until everyone got some serious work done.

Jeff Simmons was out in Foyt's 41 car. Will Power had fast time of the non-qualified cars at over 222 with John Andretti in Roth's second car next, along with three more who have yet to qualify also over 222. Alex Lloyd was back out in the 16 car, with a new paint job and sponsor too. My focus was on getting shots of cars I had not seen yet, so I hardly shot anything today in the two hours I was out there. Tomorrow should be a different story however, as it should be a nice day and I expect to get out for most of the afternoon.

Weather forecasts for the weekend are iffy and if the current pattern holds, I'm sure we will see some rain. Of course that just makes filling the field all the more interesting (or nerve wracking, depending on which side of the catch fence you are on) and I expect it will take at least 219.5 to make the race. Temperatures are not supposed to crest 70 all weekend and cooler track temps often mean faster speeds, unless the wind is up, so you never know who's got what until they actually head out for their 4-lap runs. Spots 12-33 are up for grabs Saturday and then Bump Day is Sunday, so it looks like about 5 teams are likely going home disappointed Sunday night.

An example of how dark it was today can be seen in the above pic, which shows Jaime Camara bottoming out with sparks flying. I enjoyed listening to the PA system identify Jaime as Bernoldi this afternoon, but this is clearly Jaime as Bernoldi's helmet is blue. No one bothered to tell the track announcers that they had apparently swapped cars for the day! Oh well. When you see as many laps through the lens as I do, it's hard to miss which driver is which, especially when the cars are painted the same - the helmet style is the only way to tell them apart.

Here's a couple others from today. Enjoy! See you tomorrow from the Brickyard.

Indy 500 Practice May 15, 2008

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