INDY NOTES: A New Engine Supplier?

Could a new engine supplier be in the works for the Verizon IndyCar Series? (Eric Schwarzkopf Photo)
Could a new engine supplier be in the works for the Verizon IndyCar Series? (Eric Schwarzkopf Photo)
Could a new engine supplier be in the works for the Verizon IndyCar Series? (Eric Schwarzkopf Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS – It was Indianapolis 500 Media Day on Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as recorders were filled with endless interviews and predictions for Sunday’s 100th Indianapolis 500.

Here are a few odds and ends that came from the day.

–  INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles also indicated that “at least one” engine manufacturer not involved in the series will be at this year’s Indianapolis 500 and “you can count that we are going to talk to them about joining the series before they leave.”

Miles refused to name the engine company.

INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations Jay Frye said he keeps an open dialogue with various engine companies and said a search for a third engine supplier remains a priority with the series.

– Dale Coyne Racing announced that Lilly Diabetes of Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Company (LLY) will serve as co-primary sponsor of the No. 18 Diabetes Honda, driven by Conor Daly, in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

As part of the sponsorship, Daly’s No. 18 car will run a special patriotic paint scheme with a series of four stars, one colored in blue to recognize the one in four veterans who live with diabetes, which is two and a half times greater than the general population.

In 2006, at age 14 Daly was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Now 24, Daly continues to manage his diabetes through proper diet, exercise, and medicines. The Noblesville, Ind., native wears a glucose monitoring system to help manage his diabetes and his No. 18 Honda is equipped with a glucose monitoring readout device.

“We are proud to partner with Lilly Diabetes for the Indianapolis 500 to help bring awareness to the number of veterans living with diabetes and help connect fans with Lilly as a resource for proper management of diabetes,” said Team Owner, Dale Coyne. “With the Memorial Day weekend and the sponsors we have on Conor’s car, we couldn’t be more excited about Sunday’s race.”

Lilly, a leader in diabetes care for more than 93 years has been providing solutions and support for people affected by diabetes since 1923 when the company introduced the world’s first commercialized insulin. Many of the company’s programs and solutions are designed around feedback from people who live with the disease every day.

“By working with Dale Coyne Racing and Conor Daly, we hope to get people talking about diabetes with their doctor, as well as their friends and family,” said Michael B. Mason, vice president, U.S., Lilly Diabetes. “As an American institution with roots that go back 140 years, we are excited to sponsor the No. 18 Honda at one of America’s most iconic tracks, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, right here in our backyard. The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is an exciting moment for the entire racing world and an ideal opportunity for us to bring attention to the one in four U.S. veterans currently living with diabetes. We look forward to celebrating this historic moment in motorsports.”

“It’s a pretty exciting time for our race team to have Lilly Diabetes come on board for the Indy 500 this weekend. It’s personal to me and also to so many people living with and managing diabetes,” said Daly. “Being an Indiana native and having a company like Lilly help us bring awareness to the number of veterans living with diabetes is something really special.”

– Team Penske held its Indy 500 Media Luncheon. In past years, this event has been a media dinner most recently held on the 48th floor of the Chase Tower. This year, it was moved to a luncheon because Rick Mears is being honored at Thursday night’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Banquet for the 25th year of his fourth Indy 500 victory in 1991.

Shell/Pennzoil sponsored the event and the focus of the event included a video of Helio Castroneves talking about the heritage of the famed Yellow Submarine paint scheme that he is running in the 100th Indy 500.

“This is certainly a special weekend for all of us especially here at Team Penske to have four great drivers in the race,” team owner Roger Penske said. “It was announced yesterday that this event is sold out. I ran the Super Bowl in Detroit in 2006 and we were trying to get 76,000 seats in the stadium. We will have five times that in the seats here on Sunday. This is an iconic track and to win here is special.

“We can wait to get started on Sunday.”

By the time the luncheon had concluded, the skies opened up and it started to pour even more rain on the facility, But it was off to the Brickyard Plaza Chalets for the first one-hour session of media day with drivers broken into two sessions, half the field from 1-2 p.m. and the other half from 2-3 p.m.

“We learned that in the hot conditions we will need a lot of downforce,” said three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who starts ninth in the 33-car field. “You have to learn how to follow in those extremely hot conditions so we have to find more downforce.

“On Monday people tried to run in the pack but what I noticed is people will try late passing in the corner so that will mean a lot of give-and-take. The spotters are going to have to be on top of their game or we’re going to have a lot of yellows. That could be a big problem.”

Castroneves believes the domed skids allow cars to go deeper into the corners.

“I’m thinking what I need to do to get win No. 4,” Castroneves said. “I’m thinking of what I need to do to be in position at the end of the race to fight it out for the win. I believe the Hondas will be very strong in the race, too.”