Monday, May 13, 2013

Indy 500 - First Practice Notes & Quotes

AJ completed his Rookie Orientation Program in just under an hour to get certified for the big race at the end of the month. After a shakedown of the car by teammate Helio Castroneves, AJ took the required laps and then spent the rest of the day practicing something relatively new to him - driving an oval in an open-wheel car.

While AJ has raced several times in a Sprint Cup car at the famed Brickyard, this was his first time making laps in the style of car that he cut his teeth on coming up through the racing ranks. So how did he do? He topped both of his teammates times and ended up 8th overall in practice times during his first day on track. Here are some quotes from the day:

AJ ALLMENDINGER (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet): (Does previous experience here help?): "No. No. It just tells me that there are four corners around this racetrack and I have an understanding of what they feel like. Obviously, it's two different race cars. Completely different race cars. The line and just the way the track feels, that I kind of knew, but from there it's a completely different technique of how to get in the corners. You can't hit the brake pedal, and you don't want to lift. Trying to get used to that. The first few laps when I was trying to go wide-open, the right foot was quivering. I had to get the left foot to hold it down and say, 'OK, it's time to get used to this.' It was enjoyable."

AJ ALLMENDINGER (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet): "Oh, I'm a rookie. I feel like it out there. I have to admit, the first lap on the racetrack was pretty special going down the back straightaway and thinking about that I was at Indy preparing for the Indy 500, especially being in a Roger Penske race car. For me, it was pretty cool. I was kind of just thinking about that as I was going down the straightaway. Then I realized that corner comes up really quick, so I should start focusing again. All around for me, I thought it was better than expected. I didn't really know what to expect. I was pretty much making myself nervous and stressing myself out thinking about what was going to happen. You know, I really have to thank Helio (Castroneves) a lot, because for him to shake the car down was one thing. But to be there on the headset talking to me before, during and after; that guy's obviously got a wealth of knowledge and experience at this place. For him to take the time out of the day when he could have been working on his own program or just back at the trailer relaxing, it meant a lot to me. I have to thank him a lot for getting me up to speed pretty quick."

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