Commentary

Carb Day cut short by rain; Indy Lights race moved to Saturday

Rain visited Indianapolis Motor Speedway again, meaning Carb Day adjustments for Sunday's Indy 500 were limited to all of 11 minutes, writes John Schwarb.

Updated: May 23, 2008, 7:21 PM ET
By John Schwarb | Special to ESPN.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Eleven minutes on the track will have to suffice for final preparations for the 92nd Indianapolis 500.

[+] EnlargeIndianapolis Motor Speedway
AP Photo/Tom StrattmanRain on Friday meant little track time for crews and drivers such as Will Power to make any last-minute adjustments.

That was all the time afforded to the 33 drivers and teams after rain cut short the one hour of practice allotted on Friday's Carb Day. As happened too many other days this month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, rain washed out a busy schedule.

The annual pit stop competition was canceled, and the Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100 race was moved to Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET.

A Carb Day concert with Stone Temple Pilots went on as scheduled, delighting thousands of soaked fans. That was a better show than what they saw on the 2.5-mile oval, with only 189 laps completed before the rain.

"We did an [engine] installation lap, and that was it," said Newman/Haas/Lanigan rookie Justin Wilson, who will start 16th. "We left the pits to try and do our first run, and as soon as I got to the end of pit lane, it was yellow, so we didn't do anything today. It's a shame, but I'm sure everything will be fine."

The full-month 500 teams received new Honda engines, and Carb Day was a chance to break them in and work through checklists.

Not much else could be done in the limited time, though pole sitter Scott Dixon and his No. 2-qualifying Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Dan Wheldon, still managed to post hot laps in excess of 223 mph, the only drivers to do so.

"My theory around here is that if you don't know it by Carb Day, you're never going to have it," said Wheldon, the 2005 winner. "You can certainly fine-tune it in the race with all the pit stops you have. The balance seemed nice today. Let's just hope it's like that Sunday."

Sunday's race (ABC, noon ET) could prove interesting with mostly sunny skies and forecast temperatures of near 80 degrees. It could be one of the hotter days of the month, conditions teams hadn't experienced in the time they were on the track.

"That's going to be a vastly different setup; they're going to rely more on their historical data, their knowledge," said Brian Barnhart, Indy Racing League president of competition. "If the temperature here on Sunday at a 1 o'clock start is in the low 80s, this place is going to get hot and slick and they're going to need a lot of downforce, a lot more than they would have to run in today's conditions."

Indy Lights drivers will have to wait one more night before their 40-lap event. The most inconvenienced driver will be Jeff Simmons, who is doubling up with the Freedom 100 and the Indy 500. He'll miss the annual 500 Festival Parade in downtown Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon because of the rescheduled race.

The parade, which features the rest of the drivers and is one of the month's biggest traditions, doesn't appear to be in danger of bad weather.

John Schwarb is a motorsports contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at johnschwarb@yahoo.com.

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