Opening Day Wrap-Up

Track activity picked up considerably around 3:30 this afternoon. All of the Andretti Autosport cars were on the track – including the No.26 of Kurt Busch. EJ Viso turned a few laps in the No.27 assigned to James Hinchcliffe. As I type, there is still no further word on his condition or availability to drive.

With about an hour and a half to go in today’s practice, a big black cloud kept encroaching on the south end of the track. I was sitting in the Paddock stands across the track and a flash of lightening caught my eye. It must have caught the eye of track officials also, because it wasn’t too long before the yellow flag came out. I didn’t think sitting in aluminum stands was such a great idea with a storm approaching so I left the stands, headed for the pedestrian tunnel and headed back to the safety of the media center – and the free cokes. By the time I got here, the threat had passed and the sunshine returned. Shortly thereafter – so did the cars.

Earlier, I mentioned the yellow Pennzoil car of Helio Castroneves. I have to tell you – it’s the best looking car here. It absolutely glistens in the sunshine. With the Penske trademark of polished wheels and that paint scheme – it jumps out at you, much like the old Marlboro cars did. The car looks fast standing still. But that’s no illusion – as I type with forty-five minutes remaining in practice, Helio had turned the third-fastest time of the day at 222.373. Teammates Will Power and Juan Montoya bested Helio’s time with speeds of 223.057 and 222.502. Team Penske was looking good for the first day. I took an iPhone picture of the Pennzoil car as it raced by me at speed. it’s not great, but what do you expect from a phone?


Speaking of striking cars – have you seen the car of Townsend Bell’s? When I saw it yesterday, I tweeted that Townsend Bell had just set a new track record – he is driving the ugliest car to ever run at the Speedway. I stand by that statement. Draw your own conclusions.


I had reported earlier that Pippa Mann would be out later today. Unfortunately, they decided to forego the day due to the threatening weather. Too bad, because it turned out very nice at the end of practice. I’ve seen Pippa several times in her pink Susan G. Komen shirts this weekend. Unfortunately, I have yet to even get a glimpse of her car. Every time I walked by her garage, the doors were shut completely.

With the checkered-flag, the three Penske cars led the way – followed by the second car from Ed Carpenter Racing, driven by JR Hildebrand. Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the Top-Five. Kurt Busch was twelfth quickest at 220.352. Altogether, there were twenty-four cars to run today. Best of all, there were no accidents.

I think that’s going to do it for this weekend. I have a long drive back to Nashville tonight and I have to be at work at the day job at the disgusting hour of 7:30 tomorrow morning.

Please Note:  There will be no post on Monday May 12. At this point – I can’t solidly guarantee a post for Tuesday morning, but I will try. Thanks for following along all weekend. It’s been a blast as always. I’ll be back up here next Friday morning for Fast Friday. This time I’ll have Susan along with me. We’ll be here all next weekend too – and of course race weekend.

George Phillips


4 Responses to “Opening Day Wrap-Up”

  1. Thanks George! It was the next best thing to being there!

  2. Yannick Says:

    Thank you George for the blog entries from this past weekend. If ABC stands for Always Bad Coverage, always good coverage is abbreviated AGC and the G in there stands for your first name, George.

    Regarding the Pennzoil colors in IndyCar, it shows that I was not following this sport in the Mears days. I always associate the Pennzoil colors with Sam Hornish, Jr. and it thus feels wrong to see one of his main opponents back in the day, Helio, wear them now on his car, especially given that Hornish’s team Panther Racing have closed up shop during the offseason this year. I confess I’ve never been a Panther Racing fan but this feels kind of like Penske saying “oh, now that you’re gone, we’re stealing it back, buddy”. But good for Team Penske to have such a popular sponsor. Their 3 cars will have a strong showing this month. Power and Montoya may even have a better race finish than Helio in the end.

    Regarding the looks of the #6 KV car of Townsend Bell, I can understand why you don’t like its looks but I like that it looks different. To me, the color scheme looks like a plastic bag from a perfume shop. That’s pretty unique for IndyCar.

    I’m very much looking forward to your photos of the other one-off color schemes to appear next weekend.

    Also, Jacques Villeneuve is running the 3rd Schmidt car. It is now the #5. I wonder how they came up with that number. But I’m sure Villeneuve decided not to run #99 which has usually been on the 3rd Schmidt car in the Month Of May, as a tribute to Greg Moore, following the party line of ChampCar who retired that number back in the day. I feel he should have run Indy again earlier, maybe as a teammate to Ed Carpenter at Sarah Fisher’s team when they also had the Dollar General colors. That would have been a good fit. Yet, Sam Schmidt Peterson Motorsports is a winning team, and it’s great to see him in a good car.

    Yesterday when I tuned out of the timing & scoring website, it was Ed Carpenter who had given the #21 car a shakedown, not Hildebrand. Good to hear that JR himself ran it yesterday, too. What does it look like?

  3. billytheskink Says:

    Bell’s car is not uglier than Jeff Ward’s Aerosmith-sponsored car from 2001. There are cockroaches prettier than that thing.

  4. Brian McKay Says:

    Thanks for blogging, George.

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