Alex Zanardi already has plans for the Reynard 96I/Honda Indy car he was presented on the Yard of Bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by Target Chip Ganassi Racing owner Chip Ganassi, who was celebrating his 55th birthday, and team members.
“I can see myself already playing pool with my friends in Italy and putting my sights on the car and having them ask me about this and that,” he said, “and me telling the story a thousand times and adding something to it each time, which is my way.”
Driving at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the final race of the 1996 season, Zanardi made a risky overtaking move at the “Corkscrew” on race leader Bryan Herta and on the final lap and went on to win. The maneuver -- known to many racing fans as "The Pass" – it was banned for future years.
“(The presentation) was a very special moment and special because it happened at Indy after such a long time since I joined this environment,” said Zanardi, who won CART titles in 1997 and ‘98. “I can’t more than three steps before I get recognized and stopped by somebody and welcomed and cheered by fan. It’s fantastic. I just came here to enjoy a great race Sunday.
“On top of everything, it’s been magical for the reaction I’m receiving. What can I say other than thank you to everyone. The car is a beauty.”
In recent years, Zanardi has attracted widespread praise for his return to competition – driving and handcycling -- in the aftermath of a 2001 crash that resulted in the amputation of his legs. In September 2012, he earned a gold medal in the handcycle division of the Paralympic Games in London.
“The car does not have an engine so what I can do is sit in it and struggle with my fantasies of the days driving,” Zanardi said. “When you accomplish something that is very special, it will stay forever.”
Castroneves' team wins Pit Stop Competition
The final heat of annual Indy 500 Pit Stop Competition featured a pair of three-time Indianapolis 500 champions.
Helio Castroneves and Team Penske beat Dario Franchitti and Target Chip Ganassi Racing (14.475 seconds to 14.854 seconds) in the final round. It's the 14th victory for Team Penske and sixth victory for Castroneves in the Pit Stop Challenge, both event records for a team and driver.
Team Penske earned $50,000. Target Chip Ganassi Racing earned $15,000 for its runner-up finish.
"We do have the best guys in the business," Castroneves said. "What impressed me most, it's overcoming those unexpected scenarios, and that's why they won today because I should have stopped on the mark, and I didn't. But I guess they got used to it now. So now there is no excuse in the race."
Teams changed four tires and performed a simulated fuel hookup during each round of the competition, which started with 12 teams.
Presenting sponsor named for Iowa event
Officials of Iowa Speedway and Monsanto’s DEKALB brand of seed corn announced that the DEKALB brand will be the presenting sponsor of the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by the DEKALB brand.
The 250-lap IZOD IndyCar Series race will be contested on the tri-oval June 23 in Newton.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to work closely with the Iowa Corn Growers Association and Iowa Speedway, as well as feature the DEKALB brand’s commitment to powerful innovation and performance,” stated Jason Hoag, DEKALB Brand Lead. “The DEKALB brand has partnered with American farmers for over 100 years and we look forward to working with our industry partners, dealers and farmers to bring forth innovation that is ahead of pace, allowing tomorrow’s ideas to be products of today.”
Dennis LaCava, chief mechanic for the No. 91 Lazier Partners Racing car for Buddy Lazier, was presented the Clint Brawner Mechanical Excellence Award sponsored by Firestone Racing. .. Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing announced a long-term sponsorship agreement with Genie Products LLC, the owners of POWERQUBE. The sleek (5.5 inches x 2.75 inches) POWERQUBE is a solution to the bulky power strip. ... Katherine Legge will honor millions of Girl Scouts by wearing the Girl Scout logo on her helmet in the Indy 500. Legge was a Girl Guide, part of a sister organization to Girl Scouts, while growing up in the United Kingdom.