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  • 2005 U.S.G.P. NEWS
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  • 2005 MAY NEWS
  • 2005 1st QUARTER NEWS

  • JULY 2005

  • (5/30) - Jaques Lazier will replace Darren Manning at Ganassi Racing, the team said Friday. Lazier rejoins his brother, Buddy, in the IRL. Buddy is driving the third car of Panther Racing this weekend.

    Jaques Lazier won in 2001 at Chicagoland Speedway. The other returnee is Townsend Bell, who is filling in for the injured Tomas Enge at Panther.

  • (5/27) - Target Chip Ganassi Racing has not been having much luck in the IRL which they've competed in since 2003. Ganassi decided not to re-sign 29 y/o Briton Darren Manning this week after he couldn't get his car qualified last weekend in Milwaukee.

    Manning was a test driver for B.A.R. in Formula One and also raced in CART for Walker. In his 24 IndyCar starts for Ganassi, Manning produced five top-five finishes and 12 top-10 results, including career-best fourth-place finishes in Japan, at Nashville and on the short Pikes Peak oval.

  • (5/20) - It was a family affair atop the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing speed charts July 19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the father-son tandem of Bobby Hamilton and Bobby Hamilton Jr. posted the top laps, respectively.

    A total of 46 drivers -- who will compete for 43 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard starting spots -- participated in two-day tests at the 2.5-mile IMS oval over a three-week period, on July 5-6, 11-12 and 18-19. They completed a total of 5,291 laps, or 13,227.5 miles.

    It was a vital test, as only three drivers in the top 35 of the current NEXTEL Cup point standings -- Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman and Mike Bliss -- didn't turn laps this month at Indy.

    The first and third rounds of testing were conducted under hot, sunny, humid skies -- very typical of early August weather in Indianapolis. But drivers taking part in the second round of tests battled scattered rain and cooler, cloudy weather conditions.

    The drivers indicated that they appreciate the Speedway's new pavement as the grinding has resulted in a bigger groove and the track is smooth without a bump.

  • (5/17) - Danica Patrick started the IRL Nashville race in the front row today and even led a lap. Dario Franchitti won while his three teammates dropped out.
  • (7/15) - Details on refunds for the U.S. Grand Prix being offered by Michelin was announced today. IMS will mail refunds automatically to the people who purchased tickets from them in advance. USGP Account Holders will be mailed a letter next week detailing the ticket refund process.

    For those who purchased tickets at the ticket office on race weekend and did not pre-order their tickets, a refund process will also be available. They will need to download a form from here or call 1 877 950-8747. The form will not be available until August 8th. They will have to mail the form along with their ticket stubs to receive a refund.

    Apparently if you purchased your tickets off eBay or from a ticket reseller you will not be getting a refund.

    It is expected that Michelin will mail out the checks between Sept. 19 and Sept. 26.

  • (7/14) - The FIA was expected to punish the seven Formula One teams which bailed out of the U.S. Grand Prix with heavy fines and maybe even exclusion from the series. Due perhaps to the fact that all the teams have been talking about starting their own series and were threatening further boycots of races if they were fined, the FIA decided to do nothing. Perhaps they just decided it was not the teams fault, but Michelin's.
  • (7/6) - An F2 tornado hit the Atlanta Motor Speedway inflicting much damage.

    Atlanta tornado
    Atlanta tornado

  • (7/03) - Tony Kanaan edged out teammate Dan Wheldon by .012 seconds to win the Kansas IRL race. Danica Patrick was the polesitter and her two teammates qualified right behind her. She finished 9th after some pitstop problems.

    Tony Stewart won his 2nd consecutive Nascar race. This time at Daytona.

  • (7/03) - Even though Michelin is refunding our ticket prices to the U.S. Grand Prix, the seven Michelin-shod F1 teams felt they needed to do something for the U.S. fans. They told Ecclestone that they would race back here in Indy after the regular season is over in a non-points race for FREE! Sounds great, no?

    Tony George told the Star, "There will be no race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this fall!"

    WHY?! Here he is getting handed a F1 race that won't cost him $10 million. It could even bring him revenue, not to mention the city. Unknown of course is if the three Bridgestone teams (Ferrari, Jordan, Minardi) would participate. I doubt if Ferrari would, but the rest might.

    If George accepted it, perhaps he'd be under pressure to offer free tickets. If so, then he'd be able to only rely on souvenir and food sales. Perhaps he could wrangle the television rights, since it would be a non-championship race. Perhaps F1 mgt would give him that. If this happened, then everyone involved would have paid the public back something for the June 19 fiasco. It wouldn't be until mid-October. That wouldn't interfere with anything at the Speedway. I say if George refuses outright to discuss it, then he must be making decisions emotionally and not logically.

    IMS is still waiting on Michelin to see how they will refund the tickets from this year's U.S. Grand Prix.

  • (7/02) - Kasey Kahne, top-level NASCAR racer with Evernham Motorsports, hinted Tuesday that he hopes to make a try at the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. Kahne, former USAC midget champion, helped run his family sprint-car team out of Indianapolis, that team now located in North Carolina. He continues to run occasional USAC and Outlaws races.

    Asked if he had a chance to watch this year's Indy 500 while cooped with NASCAR at Charlotte, he said, "I watched pretty much all of it. I had a few meet-and-greets to do during it, but I was able to watch most of the 500. It's such an exciting race. It's exciting to watch every part of it.

    "I enjoyed it when I used to go and watch, and now I watch it on TV. I would hope to get an opportunity to race in that race in the near future."

    How that could happen is not clear. Owner Evernham is DaimlerChrysler's factory manager in NASCAR, but DC has no direct involvement with the Indy Racing League. Kasey Kahne Motorsports, which recently expanded its facilities, produces USAC-type cars, and Kahne and Evernham have an alliance in this area, which includes development of young driver Erin Crocker.

    In addition, the new start time for the 500 (1 p.m. ET) makes it impossible for drivers to compete in both the 500 and the Charlotte race later in the day.

    Several NASCAR regulars have indicated at least a passing interest in running the 500, with Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon having done so. Dale Earnhardt Jr. also has mused that he'd like to give the big race a shot.

  • JUNE 2005

  • (6/29) - Bad news for the IRL as Toyota says sayonara. The engine manufacturer will pull out after 2006. With Chevrolet dropping out, that will leave only Honda for 2007 unless competition arrives.

    Toyota began competing in Indycar just two years ago, in 2003. That first year they found much success against Chevrolet, winning the manufacturer's championship as well as the Indy 500 in their first attempt! But then Honda came along and have been pushing Toyota around ever since. Toyota has been pushing its way into the Nascar Truck series. Perhaps they're gearing up for a run at the Nextel Cup stock car series.

  • (6/26) - Helio Castroneves won on the IRL's shortest track last night (Richmond VA). Danica stayed in for most of the race until another car crashed her out. The Champcar race at Cleveland was a crashfest today and Paul Tracy won for the second time this year.
  • (6/14) - Several Nascar drivers have noted that the IRL does not handicap its drivers based on weight. These guys obviously feel threatened by Danica Patrick and its starting to show. Ever hear A.J. Foyt complain that Mario had a weight advantage? Anyway here are the stats on IRL and Nascar drivers:

    The 40 main Nextel Cup drivers average 174.2 pounds, from Jason Leffler (130) to Mike Wallace (220).

    The 25 IRL drivers average 148.4, from Danica Patrick (100) to Sam Hornish Jr. and Ed Carpenter (165).

  • (6/12) - Wow! Tomas Scheckter not only finished the IRL race in Texas, but he led the whole thing from pole and won it!! I would not be surprised if this is the first race he's finished in three years. (This was actually his second win.)

    Panther Tomas OCC

    The boys from Orange County Choppers joined in on the pace lap!

    Gene Simmons from KISS was at the race and announced the drivers.

  • (6/11) - BAR's Jenson Button won the pole position for this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher is also on the front row, for the 2nd time this year. Renault continues to be strong, filling the second row of the grid.
  • (6/10) - Danica Patrick will get off to an even better start in Texas than she did at Indianapolis. The IRL rookie driver will start ahead of Dan Wheldon, the Indianapolis 500 champion she has overshadowed since her sensational showing last month. Panther Racing has two cars on the front row - Tomas Enge and Tomas Scheckter, both of which were taken out in the Indy 500 by Danica.

    "She's usually more trouble when she's ahead of me by the looks of Indy," Scheckter said jokingly after earning his third Texas pole. "She should be fine...I've got no problem racing with her."

    This is Scheckter's 3rd pole at Texas - in a row!

    Patrick had a qualifying lap of 212.661 mph on the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked Texas track, where she had never driven before two practice sessions earlier in the day.

    Patrick will take the green flag ahead of both her Rahal Letterman teammates. Vitor Meira qualified fifth and Buddy Rice was seventh.

  • (6/10) - 23-year-old Danica Patrick, who is 5-foot-2 and weighs just 100 pounds, is definitely a hot commodity.

    Instead of Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon, Sports Illustrated made Patrick the first Indy driver on the magazine's cover in 20 years.

    "If I owned Sports Illustrated, you've got 33 drivers in the Indianapolis 500, and one's female and hot, why wouldn't you put her on the front page?" Wheldon said. "You'd be stupid not to."

    Two-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves wore one of Patrick's T-shirts at an autograph session this week in Texas, where some fans waited in line more than 10 hours for her signature.

    And Patrick's image is being painted on an 800-squre-foot mural over the marquee outside of Texas Motor Speedway, and hanging more than 50 feet above the ground along busy Interstate 35.

    "The biggest thing for me is the self-satisfaction of winning the race," Wheldon said. "I don't care about who gets the most attention. I've achieved something that's very special to me."

  • (6/10) - Dan Wheldon now has the chance to become the first IRL driver to win four straight races. The victory at Indianapolis was his third straight, matching Kenny Brack's record set seven years ago.

    With 12 of 17 races still left, Wheldon is already going for his fifth win of the season. That would match the series record set by Sam Hornish Jr. when he won his second straight IRL title in 2002.

    The starting position isn't a concern. Wheldon rolled off the grid 16th at Indianapolis and his best start was second at Phoenix, the only race he didn't win this season.

  • (6/10) - When going through the wreckage of Enge's car at the Indy 500, Panther team members found the broken wing from Danica Patrick's car. They got permission from Rahal Letterman and put the busted wing up for auction to benefit charity. Bidding on eBay started Monday at $500, and was morethan $33,000 by Thursday night.
  • (06/07) - The roof on F1 champion and millionaire Michael Schumacher's tax paradise might soon cave in. A petition before Switzerland's parliament - named 'The Schumi Initiative' - aims to close a loophole allowing wealthy foreigners to negotiate low rates of tax.

    Schumacher, 36, moved near Lake Geneva in 1996 to dodge Germany's 42% income tax. He now pays about 4% ($2m) of his $50m income to the Swiss government. High profile millionaires and Swiss residents like Jackie Stewart, Boris Becker, David Bowie, Celine Dion and Roger Moore also would be affected.

  • 2005 United States Grand Prix News

  • (6/28) - Michelin Tire Company claimed in a statement today that they will reimburse people who attended the U.S. Grand Prix as well as provide 20,000 tickets for next year's race. IMS will be administering the refund and the free tickets, but so far, no plan has been put into place how they are going to do it. The official press release from Michelin follows:


    Michelin wishes to make a sincere gesture towards people present at Formula One Grand Prix in Indianapolis by offering to refund tickets.

    INDIANAPOLIS (June 28, 2005) – One week after the Indianapolis Grand Prix, Michelin wishes to make a sincere gesture of goodwill towards the people present at the GP, a group whose passion for F1 is encouraging in the development of this sport in the United States.

    Therefore, on our own initiative and in total solidarity with our partners, we have made two decisions: Michelin has decided to contribute to the costs incurred by the spectators present at the circuit on Sunday, June 19, 2005, by offering to refund their tickets. This is an important decision, since Michelin is not at all legally bound to do this.

    Michelin deeply regrets that the public was deprived of an exciting race and therefore wishes to be the first, among the different groups involved in the Indianapolis race, to make a strong gesture towards the spectators.

    Michelin also offers to buy 20,000 tickets for the 2006 U.S. Grand Prix to be given to spectators who were present at the Indianapolis race in 2005. We are offering this to further promote Formula 1 interest in the United States.

    We would also like to take this opportunity to underline the fact that it is unacceptable that our partner teams have been accused by the FIA of having boycotted the Indianapolis Grand Prix. The reality is that together, Michelin and its partners, have done everything possible to assure that the race could take place in total safety.

    We are extremely disappointed that the proposals made with all our teams were not accepted. These proposals, including a chicane, were technically viable and totally met all safety requirements. On Sunday morning, June 19, the sporting authority had all the means necessary to preserve the interest of the race.

    And yet, the sporting authority rejected the proposed solutions. Why? In our view this is totally incomprehensible and reflects a lack of respect for the spectators.

    It is the spirit of respect for the spectators that brought us, with our partners, to propose solutions to allow the race to take place in total safety. It is this same spirit that leads us today to make this gesture.

  • Readers Comments

  • (6/26) - The seven Michelin-shod Formula One teams which ruined the U.S. Grand Prix are being called to appear at a meeting with the FIA this Wednesday. After these teams demonstrated their blatant disregard for their fans, I suppose it shouldn't come as a big surprise that they have announced that they will boycott more grand prix if the FIA deals with them harshly over the U.S. incident.

    Beneath it all, though, there are deeper and darker political issues. The manufacturers, who want to break away and form their own grand prix world championship, have been handed more ammunition. Only Ferrari have signed up to carry on with Mosley, Ecclestone and the FIA when the Concorde Agreement runs out at the end of the 2007 season.

    The split is growing deeper and Ecclestone, old Mr Snapfinger himself, was powerless to do anything about events last Sunday. Instead it was Mosley snapping his fingers and suggesting that Michelin should compensate the U.S. fans.

    The sport has been accused of behaving arrogantly, declining to promote itself aggressively in the U.S., refusing to make its drivers accessible to media and fans.

    "I've got to think these guys just don't get it," said Jim Liberatore, the outgoing president of Speed Channel.

    Even track officials at Indianapolis have complained. In 2000, Mari Hulman George, the chairman of the board and mother of Speedway president Tony George, tried to enter her private suite for the U.S. Grand Prix and was told she lacked the proper credentials.

    "I own this place," she reportedly said. To which a Formula One security guard replied: "Not today you don't."

    Bernie Ecclestone, the billionaire who owns the rights to the circuit and serves as its controlling figure, did not help matters last week when he mused about Indy car driver Danica Patrick, the rookie sensation who placed fourth in the recent Indianapolis 500.

    "She did a good job, didn't she? Super. Didn't think she'd be able to make it like that," Ecclestone told a gathering of reporters. He added: "You know, I've got one of these wonderful ideas that women should all be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances."

    While that comment might not have endeared him to American fans, the Formula One chief seems to appreciate the potential for marketing his sport in the U.S. and was distraught by what happened Sunday.

    "I'm furious with the stupidity," he told the London Times, adding later: "We were just starting to build a great image in the USA on television and with the fans, and that just went out the window."

  • (6/20) - The cost of wrecking the US Grand Prix could be more than $270 million. Conservative estimates yesterday were pointing towards enormous losses, not only for the seven teams that withdrew from the race at the last minute but for the entire sport, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the city of Indianapolis, which has to bear the ignominy of staging the biggest farce in sport for decades.

    Leading carmakers, such as BMW, Mercedes, and Toyota, who try to sell cars in the United States through the halo effect of competing in Formula One, will find the travesty that they took part in on Sunday will tarnish their images in the world’s biggest marketplace for years to come.

    This is how some of the bill could break down:

    $16 million — For the 120,000 spectators who want their money back. If refunds get offered.

    $25 million — The sum that the Speedway is believed to have paid for the annual franchise. Such is the shock at what happened, the management seems unlikely to renew its contract with Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Management company for a race in 2006.

    $10 million — The amount the Speedway is estimated to spend on transporting an average of 50 staff and tons of equipment to North America, shared with Canada.

    $220 million — The loss of revenue for the city of Indianapolis if future races are cancelled. Thousands of tourists who spend on hotel bills and fill restaurants for almost a week give the city its biggest income from a single event.

    Incalculable — The huge knock-on from disgruntled sponsors who will probably want compensation for not seeing their cars on the track. BAR Honda were faced with paying back about $11 million to sponsors when they were banned from the Monaco Grand Prix this year and the consequences of the US race could be as great for the leading teams among the seven who refused to take part on Sunday. It is not known what the total will be, but the blue-chip companies represented included the Royal Bank of Scotland, which sponsors BMW-Williams, and British American Tobacco, backer of BAR Honda.

    Between them, sponsors invited thousands of corporate guests, many of whom were given a police escort to the Speedway on Sunday morning. After witnessing a single lap, they were left to find their own way home as the motorcycle police were diverted to help to marshall angry crowds demanding their money back.

    (besides angering everyone)

    Pos Driver Team Time
    1 Michael Schumacher Ferrari 29:43.181
    2 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1.522
    3 Tiago Monteiro Jordan -1 lap
    4 Narain Karthikeyan Jordan -1 lap
    5 Christijan Albers Minardi -2
    6 Patrick Friesacher Minardi -2

  • (6/20) - Bernie Ecclestone, perhaps shaken that IRL driver Danica Patrick so non-chalantly passed on driving a Formula One car in Indianapolis because she already had plans, told the press that "Women should be all dressed in white like all other domestic appliances." He then told Danica that over the phone. She seemed to dismiss the small man's words. I guess it doesn't matter to her if he's trying to be funny or rude since she races in the IRL.

    First it was Nascar boys, and now even billionaire egomaniacs feel threatened by Danica! While she probably out weighs him, I'd like to see him get in a car and try racing her.

  • (6/19) - Formula One today presented the saddest show in motorsports history! After luring hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world to gather in Indianapolis Indiana for the U.S.G.P., all seven Michelin-shod teams decide to drop out after the warm-up lap because their tires were not in good enough shape to race. F1 recently came up with a rule that race teams cannot change their tires during the entire race weekend. The FIA says they ok'd Michelin to use another tire, but that they said those were no good either.

    The tires were there, ready to be used!

    This mass forfeiture left the Ferraris to compete with the two slowest teams in Formula One, Jordan and Minardi, all of which run on Bridgestone tires. The rest of the teams never showed up and the two Ferrari cars basically just raced each other. It was so stupid it was an insult to the intelligence of everyone involved! There was one exciting moment however when Schumacher came out of the pits and almost collided with his teammate, forcing Rubens into the grass.

    Lack of compromise shows not only that the FIA and F1 could care less about the American market. Pride and greed prevented any compromise. Their williness to waste perhaps millions of hours of the spectators time and money reminds me of the mindset of terrorists and Enron executives.

    I want a refund, but from F1, not IMS. If I were Tony George, I might have shown less restraint and stopped the race after the first lap and tried to force the FIA to allow new tires for everyone. George took the safe and legal way out and let F1 run their show. After spending so many millions of his own money to bring F1 to Indianapolis, no one has been hurt more than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Tony George.

    Read other fan's feelings on the subject at Speak Out and Grandprix.com

  • (6/18) - Marco Andretti won the inaugural Liberty Challenge at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was his second win in three starts this season. It looks like he'll take after his father and grandfather and race in Indycar and Formula One one day.
  • (6/18) - Kimi is on the front row, but Jarno Trulli gets the pole position in the Toyota!
  • (6/18) - Kimi Raikonnen was fastest during morning practice with a lap of 1:10:643, faster than anyone yesterday.
  • (6/17) - Juan Pablo Montoya was on David Letterman tonight and said that the difference between NASCAR and F1 was like a pickup truck and a Ferrari.
  • (6/17) - The weather appears it is going to be perfect for the U.S. Grand Prix weekend. For the first time there are 3 support races.

    Formula One had two practice sessions today. The biggest crash of the day was when Ralf Schumacher spun and hit the wall in Turn 13. This time he hit the Safer Barrier, that was extended this year because of his crash in this area last year. He says he feels fine but the FIA is forcing him to sit out from racing this weekend. Ricardo Zonta will fill in for him.

    2000 Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya ran the fastest today in both sessions. He lapped the 13-turn, 2.605-mile road circuit in 1 minute, 11.118 seconds, 131.860 mph during the second session -- the top lap of the day.

    An IPS car flipped when it hit the gravel trap. Marco Andretti won the pole position for Saturday's IPS race.

  • (6/16) - Danica Patrick was at the Speedway today for the F1 Pit Walkabout. She also took a ride in the Mercedes F1 safety car. While people waited patiently in line to get autographs from Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher got mobbed after his question and answer session today.

  • (6/14) - BAR Honda has offered Indycar driver Danica Patrick an "exhibition drive" at the U.S.G.P. this weekend. Apparently Danica doesn't need any further exhibition. She reportedly is attending a movie premiere in California this weekend.
  • Leaders of Drivers Championship as of June 13, 2005

    Pos Driver Nationality Team Points
    1. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault 59
    2. Kimi Raikonnen Finland Renault 37
    3. Jarno Truli Italy Toyota 27
    4. Nick Heidfeld Germany Williams 25
    5. Michael Schumacher German Ferarri 24
    6. Mark Webber Australia Williams 22
    7. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Ferarri 21
    8. Ralf Schumacher German Toyota 20

  • (6/14) .................... FORMULA ONE TEAM PREVIEW ......................

    None of Jordon Grand Prix Tteam's drivers have ever raced on the Indianapolis roadcourse. Narain Karthikeyan, Tiago Monteiro and test driver Robert Doornbos.

    The BMW WilliamsF1 Team has new engines for Indy. Indy is normally a two-stop race, but that may change if their new Michelin tires work well. The BMW Motorsports director said, "The U.S. is the biggest export market for BMW. In terms of sales volume, it currently lies in second place behind the German home market. There is a keen interest in the sporty M models here, nowhere else sells as many of the BMW M cars as in the United States."

    The engine technical director for Toyota says, "The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the toughest circuits on the calendar for the engine department... the 1km banked straight which links the final corner of the preceding lap and the first corner of the next means that we are running the engine at max power for almost 24 seconds without a break." Expect to find driver Jarno Trulli, who is in third place in the standings, to be hanging out at the Slippery Noodle Inn listening to blues in the evenings.

    In regard to the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis, points leader Fernando Alonso said, "Without a doubt, it would be one of the best possible races to win a Grand Prix. In terms of the circuit itself, it is a bit complex and there are some very contrasting sections: very high speed straights, and very, very slow corners. You have to be really careful when you are selecting the set-up." The Renault F1 Team has released their test driver to compete in the 24 Hours of LeMans and will be substituting Heikki Kovalainen at Indy.

    At BAR Honda, driver Takuma Sato said, "I have great memories from Indianapolis in 2004 as I got my first podium at the race last year. I am very much looking forward to getting back to Indy next weekend and I think we will be competitive." Briton Jenson Button said, "The Brickyard is a very slow circuit. I prefer fast flowing circuits...the crowd are always very supportive." 2003 Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran is now the sporting director at BAR.

    Willy Rampf, technical director for Team Sauber Petronas, relates, "The surface is quite abrasive... that can affect tire wear. The infield is very tight - the drivers get into first gear there three times a lap." Jacques Villeneuve, 1995 Indy 500 Winner, enjoys returning to Indy, "Because the atmosphere outside of the paddock is always great. It feels a bit like a home Grand Prix because the number of Canadian fans that come and the many supporters that I still have around the USA after my time in IndyCar there and winning the Indy 500. Obviously, the track brings some good memories, so I am always happy to race there." Felipe Massa didn't get past the first turn last year in his first visit to the Indy Speedway. He said, "I like Indianapolis. You are conscious of being somewhere special, with a big history, racing in front of knowledgeable fans who really love their motor racing."

    Red Bull Racing has been searching for an American driver for several years. American Scott Speed was their test driver last week in Canada where he drove faster than either regular drivers (Coulthard and Klein) in Friday practice before crashing. He'll be back this Friday driving at Indy. "At the moment, it's all about getting used to the car's set-up, as it's so different to anything else I've driven," said Speed.


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